Sooo glad to know I am not alone in my geekdom getting into the gritty stuff of hooking!! Thanks everyone for so much love for Stitch Anatomy Part 1. Today I wanted to talk about how hook size affects gauge. It’s pretty logical to think a bigger hook size will produce a larger stitch and looser gauge (fewer stitches and rows per 10cm/4in) and this is the goal of up-sizing your hook, but it’s not always that straight-forward.
Jumping right in...
As we discussed in Part 1, hooking action can potentially change the size of your stitch immediately after completing it, but for now lets just pop that to one side.
For today's blog let’s initially assume that the post segments and chain-hats are flowing immaculately off the hook so they are matching the hook shaft exactly - and let's focus on how the stitch and row gauges change with increasing hook size when working dc sts…
Then we are going to talk about the “golden loop” which is the key determinant of your post height for all post sts.
HOW DOES HOOK SIZE AFFECT STITCH AND ROW GAUGE FOR DOUBLE CROCHET?
Let’s have a look at a swatch of dc stitches (UK terms as always). Since the dc stitch is the simplest of the post stitches, changing hook size should have the most appreciable effect so we can make some observations.
The yarn in the swatch below is a DK (8ply) merino and it has been worked in graduating hook sizes such that each hook worked 4 rows of the same dc stitch count. This was an exercise I had to do for the International Diploma of Crochet a number of years ago, and it was an eye-opener!
Look at how much wider the fabric splays when worked with the bigger hooks! The dc stitches also become taller - but is it to the same degree?
The 4 rows with the 3mm hook measures 17mm
The 4 rows with the 3.75mm hook measures 19mm
The 4 rows with the 5mm hook measures 20mm
The 4 rows with the 7mm hook measures 23mm
The 4 rows with the 10mm hook measures 29mm
Comparing the smallest hook to the largest hook: the increase in hook shaft diameter from 3mm to 10mm has increased the row height by approximately 70% (29/17=1.706)
6 sts with the 3mm hook measures 30mm
6 sts with the 3.75mm hook measures 34mm
6 sts with the 5mm hook measures 40mm
6 sts with the 7mm hook measures 47mm
6 sts with the 10mm hook measures 55mm
Comparing the smallest hook to the largest hook: the increase in hook shaft diameter from 3mm to 10mm has increased the stitch width by approximately 83% (55/30=1.833)
Disclaimer: I am not claiming any absolutes here – my measurements might be slightly off and I might think my stitches are good but maybe not perfect, (and the yarn you are using will contribute as well).
Keeping that in mind we can identify the general trend:
For the short post stitch of a dc where increasing the hook size will have the most direct effect on stitch width and row height, increasing hook size increases dc stitch width a bit more than its height, therefore...
HOOK SIZE HAS MORE INFLUENCE ON DC STITCH GAUGE THAN ROW GAUGE.
So why might that be?
The width of the stitch = width of chain hat. Full stop.
The height of the stitch = height of chain-hat + height of post segment
There is one variable element of dc stitch width and it changes with the hook size (assuming you are not scooping). The effect of increasing hook size on stitch width (and therefore stitch gauge) is direct.
Dc stitch height is determined by one fixed element (the height of the chain-hat) plus one variable element (the height of the post segment). The effect of increasing hook size on dc stitch height (and therefore dc row gauge) is a little bit diluted by the fixed height contribution of the chain-hat (again, assuming you are not scooping).
What about crochet post stitches that are taller than the dc?
The height of tr or taller post stitches will have one fixed element (height of chain-hat) and two or more variable elements (heights of each post segment). This leads us into the "golden loop" as that is the key determinant of stitch height....
THE GOLDEN LOOP
The golden loop is the last loop you pull up when you load your stitch, and it’s the first of the 2 loops you draw through when you work-off your stitch. As you perform that first draw-through, how much you lift up on the golden loop with your hook, or yank down on that loop with your tensioning yarn determines the height of the lowest post segment.
Fellow Scheepjes Blogger Esther from It’s All in a Nutshell published a great video a couple of weeks ago to demonstrate the golden loop. You can find out if you are a yanker, rider or lifter! …It makes more sense when you see it in action, and she has given me permission to link to it here:
Esther talks about that loop having the most influence on determining stitch height, but I have been playing around with the pulleys in motion and how much you “yank”, “ride” or “lift” influences each post segment, not just the bottom segment. Thanks to Scheepjes for providing me with lovely Organicon yarn (100% Organic Soft Cotton; 50g/170m - Fresh Air 217) for my video demonstration:
TO ACHIEVE GAUGE WHEN SWATCHING:
Assuming you are not "scooping" in your hooking action (if you are not sure what I mean by this check out my Stitch Anatomy 1 blog post here),
Determine which hook size allows you to match stitch gauge as the first step, then modify your tendency to yank/ride/lift the golden loop for each post segment to match row gauge as the second step.
Lol – the whole blog is reduced to this one sentence – but I think understanding the background to why I recommend this plan of attack is important too. That's it for now!
I have some new project blogs coming up next (yay - much more colourful!), and after that I will continue with Stitch Anatomy Part 3 – how gauge is affected when working taller stitches.
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