Saturday, 7 October 2017

Designing a Crocheted Garment

Hello, for those of you who don't know me I'm Marta and it's my turn to contribute to the Back To School Sweater CAL Blog Hop! Last week's post was by Fay and was crammed full of advice on blocking and finishing garments and you can find it here www.knitit-hookit-craftit.com. Today I am going to have a look at the topic of crochet garment design; starting with the various different construction techniques, where to begin yourself, a very basic template for making a garment, writing up and finally a bit about working with pattern editors.


Once you have crocheted a few jumpers or cardigans you will begin to notice the way in which a garment is constructed. There are 5 basic construction techniques out there: top-down; bottom-up; individual sections sewn or crocheted together; freeform crochet and one-piece construction. I have crocheted jumpers and cardigans in all of these ways except for the one-piece and each has its own merits ...

  • In top-down design you begin with a short length of chains which are worked into and rapidly increase to form a yoke which is later split to form front, back and armholes, picked up again and continued in the length. The huge advantage of this process is that you (or your recipient) can try it on as you make.
Top-down is perfect for pretty yokes eg. my Summer Cardigan


  • Bottom-up starts with a chain to fit the hip or waist circumference and is worked up towards the chest, splitting for armholes and decreasing for the neck. This technique does allow you to try on as you go, but with gravity against you it is a little harder to tell for sure how it is looking.

Bottom-up - to achieve the lavender motifs my
Lavender Cardigan had to be worked in this way 


  • For an individual section garment, pieces are worked up in a similar way to a dressmaking pattern and can either be sewn or crocheted together later. One huge advantage of this technique is that stitches can go in any direction, horizontal, vertical or even diagonal - opening up a world of possibilities! The pieces can be placed against the body to give an idea of fit, but it's not as reliable as top-down.

an individual section garment from Vogue Guide to Crochet, 1971


  • Freeform crochet is one of the most artistic ways to make a garment where lots of much smaller pieces (eg. flower shapes) are made and then sewn or crocheted together to form a more loose and free garment shape. Erika Knight's Asymmetrical Cardigan is an excellent example of this, I made one 4 years ago, it's a brilliant pattern!


Freeform crochet - Erika Knight's Asymmetrical Cardigan


  • One-piece construction is possibly the simplest technique out there; a simple rectangular shape is crocheted and joined at the short ends to make arm holes. A variation of this is to start with a circle and work outwards, adding arm holes as you go. I haven't tried this method so here is a link to a pattern I really like over on Ravelry.
Once you have chosen your construction technique, the best place to start your garment design process is with a set of measurements either from your own body if the garment is for yourself or from the intended recipient of the cardigan or sweater. Measure the bust or chest circumference at the fullest part, the waist and the widest part of the hips (this will depend on your figure and your intended length), the length from the most prominent bone at the base of the neck to where you wish the garment to end, the diameter of the upper arms and the arm length from wrist to the centre of the back at the neck. If you are making for yourself it will be best to ask someone else to measure you to achieve more accurate measurements.

If you have been following this Blog Hop series you will have read the post from  thecrochetproject.com covering guage, measurement and fit. If you missed it I would go and check it out because it offers invaluable advice on how to measure properly amongst other things!

The above blog post also covers ease, ie. the amount of movement the garment has around the body. Tight fitting jumpers have less ease whilst floaty summer cardigans have a lot of ease. As a general rule for adults - slim, figure hugging jumpers have up to 5cm of ease and looser fitting garments have about 10 - 15cm of ease. Obviously these measurements will be much smaller if you are designing for babies and toddlers!

Another website I refer to all the time is www.craftyarncouncil.com because it has all the standard body measurements used for crocheted and knitted garments.

When I designed and crocheted my first adult cardigan I had a look at my favourite shop-bought cardigan and took measurements from it, then throughout the making process I placed my WIP on top of my shop-bought cardigan to compare and check I was on track. This method was very successful and I still wear this first cardigan with pride!

A huge source of inspiration for me are crochet stitch dictionaries - there are all sorts of different swatches in them and I often I combine a few together or change them from working in rows to working in the round. I have a growing collection of vintage crochet books too and I love the stitch samples in them! Crocheting from other crochet designers' patterns can also spark new ideas - perhaps using their construction technique or stitch combination and altering it to make it your own. Caution: do not outright copy their work because you will be found out, you will loose your credibility as a designer and could even end up in legal trouble!

A few of my vintage pattern guides

Choose some yarn and a stitch pattern and swatch to see how it feels, how it drapes and how well the stitches are defined. If you are happy with it, calculate the number of stitches and rows per 10cm to give you your guage or tension (see The Crochet Project's post above for how to do this). From here I am going to take you through a very basic template for crocheting a bottom-up jumper. For this example, your hip measurement is 90cm+10cm of ease = 100cm and your pattern swatch has a 10 stitch repeat per 10cm, giving us 10 repeats per row pattern. Rather than launching into the main pattern, you will probably want to start with a band of plain stitches or a cable rib (2fptr, 2bptr will work well in this example).

So, you have chained 100, joined into a ring to work in the round, cable ribbed for 6 rounds and begun crocheting in your main pattern. Taking your underarm to hip measurement of 43cm, work straight for 41cm in total, including the waistband. Stopping short of 43cm allows for ease. If this jumper was for a woman you would portion slightly more stitches for the front than for the back to compensate for the bust, but to keep things super simple this is a man's sweater! 100 stitches÷2=50 stitches for the front and 50 for the back. Begin to work on the first 50 stitches only, turn and start working in rows rather than in the round. At this point you may wish to use a contrast pattern because your stitches will no longer be the same as when you were working in the round.

Your measurement from the hip to the prominent bone at the base of the neck is 65cm, so continue to crochet evenly until the total length of the work measures 62cm then fasten off. Go back and crochet into the 50 unworked stitches for the back section and repeat the same steps as the front section until it measures 62cm in total. Join back into the round and work 6 rounds of rib for the collar.

At this point it would be perfectly acceptable to work into the ends of the rows with a round of double crochet stitches to finish off and you would have a simple vest top. Or you could carry on and add sleeves ...

Measure the length from armpit to collar, it should be 19cm. Doubling this gives a 38cm circumfence and you can calculate the number of stitches needed for this in the same way as you did for the waistband above. Work evenly from shoulder to cuff, or if you prefer with a slight taper - decreasing as you go - until you are a few cm short of the cuff. Join into the round and work the same rib as you did for the collar. Either sew or crochet the sleeve seam together before pinning to the armhole and sewing/ crocheting the join. Et voilà! A very simple, box style sweater! To stop this blog post from turning into a book I have avoided shaping for the neckline, raglan sleeves and for a woman's jumper it is likely that you would have some increases for the bust.

One top tip I find useful when I am planning a design for an adult size garment is to make it baby or toddler size first. This allows me to visualize my design and any frogging will be a lot less painful!

an almost-ready-to-publish
top-down cardigan design of mine
Perhaps you want to design your own crocheted garment so that you can wear a totally unique sweater that no one else in the whole wide world can possibly have or perhaps you want to write up your design for publishing and selling your pattern. The Craft Yarn Coucil website (link above) is really useful for listing all the correct crochet abbreviations and covers what needs to be included in your pattern too. If I am working on a small item, such as a scarf, then I tend to prefer the freedom of crocheting with a notebook at my side, then later I type these scribbles up into the official pattern format. However if I am designing a garment I have my crochet and my laptop on my knee because I know that inputting the lengthy pattern onto my computer will be a long and daunting task!

After I have finished typing up any crochet design and I am satisfied with it I send it to 3 or 4 crochet friends for testing. I now have an excellent team of testers, some are real life friends but most of them I only know throught the amazing Instagram community. Testers are great at picking up things that you can't see because you have simply spent so long looking at your pattern your eyes have gone cross eyed!

Once your pattern has been tested and you are intending to publish your garment design I would thoroughly recommend employing a technical editor to proof read your pattern. Tech editors are amazing at spotting everything from typos, incorrect abbreviations to missing information. A second editor will be required if you need help to add smaller and larger sizes to your range. I have successfully worked with 2 pattern editors; Sam - singasimplemelody.blogspot.co.uk and Deb - findmeknitting.co.uk.

I hope you have found this blog post useful. If you have questions about any aspect crochet garment design please leave them in the comments and I will try and answer them (or find someone who can!). The next blog hop post in the series will be from Tamara in which she will share a little of her Back To School Sweater CAL progress - you will find it at www.craftyescapism.com

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Crochet charts - a helpful bonus included with some of my patterns

Hello, last week I was hard at work on a new design for Crate Crochet in Australia. I was beginning to get very frustrated with my stitch counts and the exact positioning of some of my stitches when I decided to step away from the yarn and turn to pencil and paper to try and draw my idea in chart form. This was a real eureka moment for me because I was finally able to see the exact placement of the stitches and every single stitch was accounted for.

I need to keep this particular project under wraps for now but it did lead me to have a think about adding charts as a helpful bonus in some of my patterns. Looking through my published patterns I chose 2 that could quickly and easily be turned into chart form and set to work!


The first is this Simple Flower pattern that I had already produced a photo tutorial for. The addition of the chart will make it really easy for other people to understand how the pattern works. This pattern is available as a free pdf download on Ravelry, you will find it here.

Secondly, I looked to one of my very first designs, my Zig Zag Scarf. It turned out that this pattern neeeded more than just a chart, it needed a lot of TLC! I can't believe how much my pattern writing and layout style have changed in 3 and a half years! So, I drew out the chart and then fixed the formatting and layout - it really did look so clunky and alien to me! Another thing I managed to do with this pattern is translate it into US terms - it's always useful to cover both if I can. I then used the scanner at my local library to scan my drawn charts into the computer and from there added them to the documents.


The Zig Zag Scarf pattern is available for £3.60 to download from Ravelry here. Please do let me know if you follow either of these patterns, I love to see how different people interpret my designs!


My Lark's Knot Scarf pattern is almost ready for publishing and it will have a chart too. Thanks also for your patience waiting for my Lavender Cardigan design - it is still stuck at the photo editing stage - nearly there, I want it to be perfect! Not long now ...

Marta xx


Friday, 15 September 2017

Using every scrap!

This week I noticed a common theme with all my current crochet WIPs - they are all scrap busting projects! I love this because apart from the economical use of yarn it is creative in using up every scrap from its source (whether plant, animal or man-made) to spinning then dying and finally retail.

The longest standing of these projects is my Virus Blanket. It is crocheted in 4ply and some of the scraps in this I have had for ages! The pattern is by Joanna Martinez and you can find it on Ravelry here.


Next up is this chunkier aran weight blanket. I hadven't made an aran weight blanket before, I always us double knitting thickness and this is working up so much faster, I love it! The pattern is Granny Shell Blanket and it's a twist on the traditional granny square, written by Remade By Sam. I have written my own final rounds to join the squares together, using the join-as-you-go method. Because of the weight I think I will keep this as more of a lap blanket, much smaller than usual. The colours are particularly clashy in this one, I'm not aiming for my usual colour harmony.


Something much smaller ... crocheted socks! This is only the second pair of crocheted socks I have ever made. The first were my own design (which I didn't write down, they never got past the experimental stage!) and now these by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project - you can find the pattern in the book, Crochet Yeah! or on Ravelry here.



My forurth WIP is one I have blogged about twice now, my 100 Days Project blanket. Progress is still going strong on this one - I have just passed the 50 square milestone! Below is a photo to show you some of the many, many coulours involved in this blanket. 


Finally, not a stash busting project but an exciting pattern release announcement! My Lavender Cardigan is at the final photo editing stage and is very, very nearly for release! I have been working on this project since the spring and I can not wait to share it with you! It will be available next week to download from Ravelry and Etsy.


Happy hooking,

Marta xx


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Yarn delivery from Eden Cottage Yarns

Earlier today I was really excited to come home from my grocery shop and find my order from Eden Cottage Yarns had arrived! The shopping was all flung to one side as I tore open the outer packaging straight away. Inside the wool had been carefully wrapped up in brown paper bags with the pretty Eden Cottage Yarns logo - all snug and perfect!


On opening further, I immediately fell in love with the baby alpaca wool - it is incredibly soft and delicate. I ordered the yarn because I plan to use it for the #BackToSchoolSweaterCal starting this Saturday. This CAL (short for crochet-along) has been organised by Tamara (craftyescapism.com) and Helen (makingatnumber14.blogspot.co.uk) and is a great way to encourage everyone to crochet a sweater (jumper) or cardigan between now and Christmas. A blog hop has been organised to accompany the CAL and it will take you on a journey via the participants blogs, finding out about all sorts of differnt aspects of garment making, starting with Tamara on Saturday (see link above). Helen approached me back in early summer, asking if I would like to be involved with this project and of course I was super keen to hop on board!! I will be writing 2 blog posts: the first in October will be all about designing a garment and my second will be in November with an update on my personal crocheted sweater progress.


For the CAL, I decided that I wanted to create a warm, winter version of my own design - Summer Cardigan. As well as changing the yarn from summery cotton to cosy alpaca I will be altering the fit to make it a more close fitting, snug cardigan. I have chosen Eden Cottage Yarns Whitfell DK which is a beautifully soft baby alpaca yarn and I can't wait to get started! The colours will be totally different too - the main colour will be dark brown "Ebony" and the colourful yoke will be in "Laburnum", "Fuchsia" and "Natural". My first step will be to work up a swatch and see how the yarn behaves in comparison with my original cotton design. From this point I will calculate my guage and sizing and the rest should fall into place ...

Anyone else joining in this CAL? Leave a comment below if you are!

Happy hooking,

Marta xx

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The 100 Day Project: 100 granny squares in 100 days

Back in July I felt the urge to begin a new granny square blanket but at the same time I didn't feel like starting a new one that would end up laying around in the corner of the room for the next 6 months (or longer!) while I occassionally added the odd square to the pile. I remebered seeing the hashtag #the100dayproject on Instagram and decided to challenge myself to make 100 granny squares in 100 days!


The main inspiration for this blanket came from @jen_olivarez who challenged herself to create an embroidered self portrait in 100 days. The stitches in her finished portrait are so tiny and intricate - I absolutely loved watching it grow! If you scroll down her Instagram gallery you will find the images - they are definitely worth a look!


All my squares are following the same pattern: Jan Eaton's Edwardian Fancy from her book 200 Crochet Blocks. This book is an amazing source of granny square inspiration for me, I would recommend it to anyone that wants to move on from basic granny squares. The yarn is odds and ends from my leftover balls of DK wool. There's a mix of alpaca, merino, BFL and vintage wool - as long as it is pure wool, it's in! 


Today is Day 24 and I have 24 squares! Hooray! Every day I am posting the finished square to my Instagram account and I love how the squares are looking dotted around my other pictures. Last week was a very hectic week for me and although I managed to crochet all the squares I was too busy to stop and take photos so I ended up a few days off, but I am all caught up now and back on track.


Yesterday I made a start on some joining and I am really happy with how the squares are sitting together. I am using a double crochet join on the reverse side, working through the back loops only. Over the years I have settled on this as my preferred joining method because it is easy to do and doesn't cut off as much of the final round from the squares as some other methods.


Today is Granny Square Day - an annual event to celebrate the iconic granny square! The idea is for everyone to post a close up image of a granny square and add the hashtag #grannysqaureday2017. When viewed all together the hashtag gallery should look like one big virtual crocheted blanket!

Happy Granny Square Day!

Marta xx


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What have I been up to in July?

Hello! I know I have been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately so thought I would share a little bit of what I have been up to this month. It's the school summer holidays here in Scotland and my 3 pre-teen/ teenage boys have a whole 6 weeks and 2 days off to enjoy themselves! I embrace this time together without having to rush around to school, clubs and appointments - we can slow down and appreciate life, making up our agenda as we go along.

I shared a blog post about our mini break in Glasgow in the first week of July which you can read about here if you missed it, but I didn't post this photo I took in the Botanical Gardens. The light was just perfect that day and I loved how the spiral staircase up to the top of one of the hothouses contrasted with the lush leaves. I may return to this image as inspiration for crochet design at some point!


Back home I began designing almost at once, working with the hand dyed Queen of Purls Citadel DK that I had bought on my travels. I will share some more about this later!


My eldest boy headed off with the Army Cadets to the outskirts of Liverpool for the middle 2 weeks of the holidays. He returns home on Friday and we look forward to hearing his news ...


I started work on a Kat Goldin pattern too - Lake's Edge hat - for my youngest boy. This was with aran weight wool so it worked up really fast!


I finished the Northmoor Lock shawl by Joanne Scrace. This is possibly my favourite 1 skein project, I have made 3 now! This shawl just needs a good blocking and then it will be ready for gifting.


Once a week my dad, the boys, our dogs and I pile into his car and head for the hills for the day! We go for a short, 8 - 10 mile walk then return home via an icecream shop. I am really enjoying getting out in the fresh air and exploring our beautiful countryside.


I had wanted to start a Virus Shawl by Julia Marquardt for a long time, because it pops up on Instagram so often and is such an eye catching design!! I was given some bamboo/ wool/ polyamide yarn by a friend and decided to use it for this shawl. The pattern worked up beautifully and is now finished, pending final photos and blocking.



Last week I took my boys to stay with my sister in Dunfermline, Fife for a few days. During this time we took a day trip to Edinburgh which we all thoroughly enjoyed. We went shopping, visited the Museum of Scotland, covered loads of charity shops, vintage shops and went to one of my favoutite shops, Greyfriars Art Shop. Below is a photo taken inside the museum - I love the interior architecture of this building and below that my youngest boy in Greyfriars - we both chose a selection of Winsor and Newton pens.



The final thing I have to share with you is something I started just the other day. I decided to hop on board the 100 Day Project - like it sounds, a project completed over the course of 100 days. For my challenge I have chosen to make 1 granny square a day, enough for a large blanket. I will be posting daily photos of my squares over on Instagram and will do some updates on the blog too. They will all follow the same pattern - Edwardian Fancy by Jan Eaton.


Phew, it's been a busy month and there are still a few days to go! Until next time,

Marta xx














Thursday, 13 July 2017

A visit to Queen of Purls wool shop, Glasgow

Last week I took a mini break to Glasgow with my husband. Our three boys were on holiday in Gibraltar with their local Scout Group so we took ourselves off to Scotland's largest city to explore for a few days! I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have been to Glasgow (I was born in Edinburgh hence it's the city I tend to gravitate towards if I am in need of a city trip) so we decided to stay right in the centre and use it as a base for delving into our surroundings.

Day 1, top of my list, was a visit to The Queen of Purls wool shop! Trying not to look too much like tourists, we walked along using Google maps on our phone to navigate our way to the shop. We found it easily enough, recognising the minty colour of the exterior paint straight away!


This impressive piece of artwork was the first thing I saw as we came through the door! Since posting the photo on Instagram, I have found out it's called a God's Eye - this is a very complex version of the ones I remember making with lolly sticks at school.


Moving round, I found one side of the shop was devoted to wool in all the colours of the rainbow! There was a large selection of Jamieson's of Shetland wool, which I have used for many projects including a Croft Hoose Hat I made (pattern by Ella Gordon) and a Paul the Toadstool (pattern by Lalylala). I really like this wool because I find that as I work each stitch I feel like I am engaging with the traditional heritage of wool in Scotland. Not sure if that strikes a chord with anyone else - maybe just me? Let me know in the comments.

Moving on a little I was blown a away by the gorgeous, rich colours of The Queen of Purls hand dyed wool! The colours were bold but in tune with nature - think of all the vibrant autumnal colours you can see in the park. The yarns are available in skeins and have either a Merino or Blue Faced Leicester base. The colours are not all over solid but have just the right amount of subtle variation to keep them exciting and alive.


As well as the pure wools there was a small selection of yarn by well known brands such as Wendy, Opal and West Yorkshire Spinners - plenty for sock knitters in particular to choose from!

There was also a wall featuring many different colours and varieties of wool tops for spinning and felting. My phone battery was almost dead, so I didn't get a photo of this wall, sorry! I did take a snap of my hubby, loom knitting a hat while he waited for me to look around ...


So, what did I buy? I chose 2 of my favourite Queen of Purls Citadel DK colours - Flowers of Sulphur and Space Junk (wonderful names too!). I have already begun a crochet scarf design based on this pair of colours, a fabulous "grellow" combination. The photo below shows my work in progress swirled into a snail shape to keep it slightly mysterious for now.


Until next time, 

Marta xx





Thursday, 29 June 2017

Pattern Release ... in Inside Crochet magazine!

Hello! I am super duper excited about this crochet pattern release because it's in the latest issue of Inside Crochet magazine - my first ever magazine release!


I was hopping around with delight when my copy of the magazine landed on my doorstep! I ripped open the plastic cover and frantically flicked through to find my pattern! I was so happy with the photo shoot images and layout - they really show off the laid back, summery feel my cardigan encapsulates. The magazine is available now in the shops and online here.

The pattern is called Summer Cardigan and it's designed to be crocheted in DK thickness, cotton yarn. I actually designed and made it last summer using Three Bears Yarn affection DK, 100% cotton - but sadly this yarn is discontinued. According to yarnsub.com, Stylecraft Classique cotton DK is a good match - the gauge and fibre content match exactly but the yarn structure is slightly different. The pattern has been written for adult sizes small through to extra large and if you are a more advanced crocheter it will be easy to make changes to the size here and there, to suit for example a fuller bust (just be aware that this may change your yarn quantities!).

I would like to share with you a series of photos which show my design evolving because although I had a rough sketch of how I wanted it to look I made a lot of decisions along the way! These photos will also be helpful if you are following the pattern yourself because you can see how the individual stages look ...












As you know, my favourite social media hangout is instagram, so if you are on instagram too and decide to follow my pattern, please tag your photos with #mrsdaftspaniel for the chance to be featured! The pattern link has also been added to the Ravelry database, so you can link your projects in on there too and I will be able to see them! 

Happy hooking,

Marta xx