Pumped and ready to crochet an Ever-Change Sweater for yourself or a loved one? Our MAL starts Dec 10th which gives everyone time to source yarn, glorious yarn!! Whoo hoo!!! …And today is about prep work!
I know it’s tempting to simply choose a size of the Ever-Change Sweater that seems to be your best bet, then start drooling over the range of Woolly Whirl, Whirl and Whirlette from your favourite Scheepjes retailer. But this misses out on the opportunity to really get a grip on what you are creating, figure out if you want to make changes to optimise fit (and after appreciating these aspects) to make sure you will have enough yarn!
This blog post goes step-by-step through understanding how the garment is constructed, planning your size and colours so you can go yarn shopping, and that dreaded activity, ….swatching for gauge!
If you missed the MAL announcement and pattern launch, check out yesterday’s blog post for these details, a breakdown of what’s provided in the document downloads and a fashion show from some of my test group!
You can download the Ever-Change Sweater pattern now from my Peppergoose Pattern Stores on Ravelry and Etsy (at a discounted price until Dec 24th)! Join Pepper-Gaggle on Facebook to participate in all the MAL discussions, share your pics and seek pattern support during the event! The pattern is in English (UK & US), but keep in mind my blog and other support resources use UK crochet terminology.
So first, let’s look at the big picture…
The basic run-down on construction for the Ever-Change Sweater is we are working top-down from back Neckline, shaping the V-neck, Sleeves and Bodice as we go until we split Sleeves from the Bodice, continue with the Lower Bodice and Hemline Ribbing, then add Sleeves top-down, work the slip stitch embroidery on the Sleeves, sew them closed, then work the Cuff Ribbing. (Those who are not going to work the embroidery can just work the Sleeves in the round to save sewing up later). The final step is to work the Neckline edging.
We will be using fdc, ch, ss, dc, htr & tr sts for the entire project, it’s just that some are worked as post stitches or spike sts and there will be shaping required with increases and decreases. I show you how to work the increases and all main techniques in a video accessed through links in the pattern PDF. (There are several photo tutorials and video links throughout the document.)
Second, a word about sizes…
The Ever-Change Sweater has been graded according to the CYC women’s sizes measurements chart (XS-5XL). With raglan sweater design the relationship of shoulder width and armhole depth to bust/chest circumference is critical for good fit. The CYC men’s sizes measurements charts describe significantly different proportions of shoulder width and armhole depth relative to chest circumference, so this design is unlikely to suit body measurements that fall inside the CYC men’s sizes chart.
Third, let’s dive in!!!
Read pattern pages 2 & 3 (shown as screenshots from UK version below).
These guide you how to check 3 key body measurements, select your size, decide how many extra cm we are looking for in the Bodice and or Sleeve for the size we have chosen, and check for any significant customisations that will affect the amount of yarn you will need (such as enlarged Bodice/Sleeves or added length for your chosen base size).
Of particular note in these 2 pages:
Trying to reduce Sleeves in isolation from the Bodice/Bust is not advised. (The Sleeves are, however, easy to make bigger).
The Sleeve width on the schematic is at its maximum point where it meets the Bodice, and tapers down the length of the Sleeve making it relatively close fitted.
Sleeve ease is affected by Sleeve construction (sewn after embroidery produces a narrower Sleeve than closed as you go because fabric isn’t taken up in the seam).
Adjustments affect st counts in increments of 4 sts in Sleeves and 8 sts in Bodice/Bust (contributing 1.8cm or 3.6cm of Sleeve and Bodice/Bust respectively).
Minor adjustments of (+)1.8-3.6cm for Sleeves and/or (+/-)3.6-7.8cm for Bust/Bodice are relatively easy and are explained in the Instructions where they are applied in the V-point to U/arm rounds and in the sts that bridge the U/arm. Examples are found in Appendix B.
Major adjustments greater than those above require changes at numerous levels of the garment (beginning fdc, rows above the V-point, rounds between V-point to U/arm rounds and in U/arm bridge) and juggle competing Sleeve and Bust flow-on effects in a way that doesn’t disturb the flow of the feature Raglan Line and comply with the mathematical restrictions of the offset and alternating stitch pattern. This is far more difficult and is explained in Appendix B.
Appendix B contains examples of using your body measurements to choose which size to make and plan minor adjustments, so if you have any doubts, it’s good to read this section for clarity. It also includes principles and examples of making intermediate and major (very advanced) adjustments for those who are feeling adventurous.
Yardage for pattern as written is on page 3 of Pattern PDF, and yardage for the other Colour Planning Variations is in Appendix A (and further down this post).
Watch the Ever-Change Construction and Colour Planning Video below and then read Appendix A.
It was in yesterday’s blog post too, but let’s watch it again. The written instructions describe how to make the sweater combining gradient colour (Woolly Whirl/Whirl) for the Bodice and solid colour (Woolly Whirlette/Whirlette) for the Lower Sleeves - other versions are “Colour Planning Variations 1 & 2” which are described in Appendix A, and discussed in the video below. Screenshots from Appendix A showing yardage for these are below the video.
This video and Appendix A together will help you understand the colour management of gradient and/or solid colour yarns during the project. This understanding may influence your yarn and colour choices. If in doubt, the simplest approach for your (first - haha) sweater is by making it with a solid colour (all Woolly Whirlette or all Whirlette) without any embroidery.
Bear in mind the yardage provided below is for the length of garment as shown in Schematic - you will need extra yarn if you want to make your sweater longer (see the red text in the middle of page 3 above).
Now you are ready to select your colours and order yarn!! …including the extra yarn that you didn’t know you needed until you read, measured, compared, and decided you wanted to make it 8cm longer and with wider Sleeves… (for example).
Swatch (and block) for gauge (Swatching Instructions & Gauge advice is on Pattern page 4). If you already have some appropriate Woolly Whirl/Whirl/Woolly Whirlette/Whirlette leftovers in your stash, then you can get a start on now!
The crochet stitches I used for the main sweater fabric has triggered some intrigue on my socials and all is revealed in the Swatching Instructions. I have done a lot of research - online, and through a huge number of stitch charts and stitch encyclopaedias - and I could not find this combination of stitches and their interlocked structure anywhere! This got me thinking… is it new? And by the best of my knowledge, I think it is! So, I will tentatively pop a Peppergoose flag in it and call this fabric a new discovery!
I call it “canvas stitch” because it creates a woven-look, knit-like fabric, and the regular spaced holes are in both vertical and diagonal alignment for embellishment with (in this design) slip stitch! It kind of reminds me of aida cloth – but prettier!!
Both the vertical and horizontal stretch is similar, creating a stable fabric that shouldn’t keep “growing” over time. It could be used vertically like in the Ever-Change Sweater’s top-down construction, or horizontally in a side-to-side garment, and would also suit making cosy blankets! ...And it’s very meditative to work.
Let's look at some Canvas Stitch swatches...
Pre-blocked swatches: Here are two swatches of canvas stitch with Woolly Whirlette on top, Whirlette on the bottom; both with a 3mm hook. During blocking the Woolly version becomes a bit narrower and longer to match the size of the Whirlette swatch. The same thing will happen to your garment.
ASSESSING YOUR GAUGE:
If you have fewer stitches or rows per 10cm than desired gauge, then your stitches are larger than they should be, and it means
…the whole garment will come out larger than intended and you will use more yarn (try again in a smaller hook).
If you have more stitches or rows per 10cm than desired gauge, then your stitches are smaller than they should be, and it means
…the whole garment will come out smaller than intended and you will use less yarn (try again in a bigger hook).
If your gauge is off, how much bigger/smaller will the garment be?
Here is an example: desired stitch gauge (blocked) is 22 sts/10cm. If your gauge is 19 sts/10 cm then the width of each stitch is 10/19 = 0.526cm compared to desired stitch width of 10/22 = 0.455cm.
Therefore 0.526cm/0.455cm = 1.16, meaning the garments will come out 16% larger around the circumference than indicated in the Schematic/Measurements chart. A 2XL would therefore come out to be 1.16 x 125.6cm = 145.7cm (which is now almost a 4XL - at least in terms of stitch gauge. Your row gauge will also be out but it’s not necessarily by the same percentage).
This example is a bit dramatic to highlight the importance of achieving gauge - but if you were only 1 stitch out at 21 sts/10cm, then 10/21 = 0.476cm width per st. Therefore 0.476cm/0.455cm = 1.05, meaning the garment circumferences would be 5% larger than intended. 1.05 x 125.6cm = 131.9cm which is probably close enough in the grand scheme of things.
If you are having trouble with your stitch gauge/row gauge and want help to figure out how to fix it, you might find my Stitch Anatomy blogs useful and you can find them here. (There is also a link in the pattern to find these blogs). You might need to swatch a few times with a few different hook sizes, but this is fine - more fabric to practise the slip stitch embroidery with later!
Wondering how to block? You can find that here.
Before you get super stressed out about perfect measurements…. Ultimately, your garment ends up within 2-ish, hey even 3 or 4cm of the measurements shown on the schematic (assuming you didn’t make customisations) then it’s a raging success! Here is a bit of context for understanding what is realistic:
Measurements in the tables go to 1 decimal point as a consistent method of displaying data, but it’s not exact. …Huh? This is because of rounding to a certain number of decimal places in the maths steps to arrive at the final measure – depending on if you use 2, 3, or infinite decimal places in the excel spread sheet, the final measure can vary by a 1-2 cm (more for the larger sizes and less for the smaller sizes – more stitches mean the effect is more magnified).
The other thing to remember is that the schematic shows how it is laid flat, not as worn with gravity and the warmth of your body, degree of flex in the fabric, moisture content in the air affecting the fibres etc, and all these could change things a few cm too.
Finally, let’s remember to goal is to fit YOU with your preferred amount of ease. The schematic is there to help you choose a size and see where you may need to change it for your individual body. Top-down construction allows you to try it on as you go so it’s easy to check how things are panning out mid-project.
The major guiding principle is to check your fit at the level of the underarm and again 14 rounds into the Lower Bodice, tweaking things for your comfort while factoring in the possibility of 2-3% (1-2cm-ish) shrinkage for the Woolly Whirl/Whirlette version when blocked. (We will be talking more about this in Week 2). Length adjustments (+/-) are easy (if you have the contingency yarn to add length).
Get ready to fdc and begin! If you don’t know much about foundation double crochet (fdc), I wrote a blog all about it here which includes a video demonstration.
Watch the video showing key techniques used in the Ever-Change Sweater.
Special Abbreviations listed in your pattern PDF have hyperlinks to this video and time stamps to find the part you are interested in. Watch it so you can preview the techniques we will be using (including canvas stitch), and when we start the project you can find it again with the hyperlinks if you need a reminder!
(My blog and videos use UK terms, so just bear that in mind if you are working from the US terms version of the pattern).
The Ever-Change Sweater was a challenging project to design and it’s not suitable for beginner crocheters to make, but it is a very versatile design for adventurous intermediate to advanced hooksters to create a monochromatic wardrobe staple or a flashy rainbow statement sweater embellished with embroidery!
Available in full now, and yes, it’s big!
The complete pattern for the Ever-Change Sweater is available now through my Ravelry and Etsy pattern stores rather than being released in parts. It is a comprehensive document set and the discounted price will run until Dec 24th!
And I do mean comprehensive! At 47 pages plus 2 appendixes, if you don’t like a lot of detail, then maybe this pattern isn’t for you. If you do though, everything you need to know is provided in the 3 PDF downloads (Pattern, Appendix A & Appendix B), though it’s great if you wait for the MAL to begin the project!
The Pattern PDF is designed to be read in page sequence to step you through the project, with heaps of visual aids of colour-coded charts, photo tutorials and links to video demonstrations.
There is additional information for managing gradient colour in Appendix A (relevant for everyone, be sure to read this and watch the linked colour planning video before choosing yarn). There is also advice for making custom fit changes with a range of examples in Appendix B (relevant only for some as already mentioned in this post).
My test group did have a moment of overwhelm in their first read through, but just followed the steps. Once they completed their first 12 rows it was smooth sailing (well, stitching), and they found the canvas stitch easy and relaxing!
And that’s a wrap…!
Blog-wise at least ...until Dec 10th.
Here’s the schedule to put in your phone calendar:
Week 1 Dec 10th Back Neck to V-point
Week 2 Dec 17th V-point to U/arm
Weeks 3-4 Dec 24th Lower Bodice and Hemline Rib
Weeks 5-6 Jan 7th Sleeves, Embroidery and Cuff Rib
Week 7 Jan 21st Neckline Edging, Finishing and Blocking
In the meantime, I will see you in Pepper-Gaggle for a swatch-fest!
If you are keen to get started or enjoyed following my long journey to design this jumper, please spread the word in your favourite groups and like and share on your socials! (Hashtags #everchangesweater & #everchangesweaterMAL). A lot of time and effort goes into developing a pattern like this - telling a friend is free and helps to support me to continue to design. I hope you join in, have fun, and make many beautiful Ever-Change Sweaters!
I am so excited to see your projects evolve!!!
Thank you to Scheepjes for contributing some of the yarn that I used in developing my first prototype of this design.