In this week’s post I want to share one of those ideas I had which would simply not leave me alone. It’s a project I’ve been working on for 3 months, sparked by an idea I had last summer.
The idea: What if I could crochet the same sweater from any yarn?
That pesky idea
Idea’s have a life of their own… their existence is solely focused on coming to fruition. Normally when you have an idea you either embrace it or kill it… well this one embraced me and eventually came to exist in the form of the Any Yarn Will Do Sweater Pattern.
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I hate making garments as I can never match gauge
One of the ongoing challenges I hear crocheters talk about when it comes to creating garments is that they love the pattern but can’t meet the gauge or that the fit doesn’t come out the way they planned.
I feel your pain on this issue, and for a long time I’ve been thinking about how I can help you out.
The whole gauge situation is something that I know that puts crocheters off. It seems complicated. What if you’re a couple of stitches out here or rows out there? What if my stitch gauge is good, but my rows are off?
It’s really frustrating and I get it.
It can get very easy to overthink the whole thing and then never start anything at all.
When I’m designing, it’s easy for me to match gauge because I use my own gauge to design from, so I don’t have to match anything. I feel kind of bad about that.
But if I just use the right yarn weight it will be fine right?
Sadly, not necessarily! Sometimes using a slightly different yarn to the one in the pattern can often mean that it’s really hard to match gauge. There is such huge variation between yarns which are supposedly the same weight, it feels like another thing that is stacked against you.
This got me thinking…
This question is what sewed the seed of that insistent idea.
The Design Process
I wanted something that gave scope for all our different crochet styles. A simple, timeless beginner level sweater design, which could be made with any yarn…
I knew it was a tall order from the off, but set about it anyway. I’m a glutton for punishment (If you’ve seen the Heart of Yarn, Make it your own Sweater design, you will know I have form for offering flexibility!)
I decided that the most obvious framework to start from was to use the 5 most common yarn weights to write the pattern.
This pattern can be made using any of the following;
- 4ply, sockweight, fingering, fine (why are there so many names for this one!)
- Double Kint
- Aran or Worsted
- Chunky or Bulky
- Super Chunky / Super Bulky
Within these categories, there can be a lot of variation in how the yarn works up, depending on the fibre or twist. So I chose to use an ‘average’ version of each category when working up the samples.
To make it readable, the pattern instructions are written out separately for each of the yarn weight classes.
But here is the added bonus… the sum being greater than the whole of it’s parts if you like… When you work the pattern, you don’t have to stick within your weight category. You work with pattern instructions which most closely match your gauge.
For example, if you have a double knit yarn that is closer to the weight of a 4ply, and swatches closer to that stitch count because you crochet tight, then you just work the pattern for the 4ply.
As I’ve said before, gauge is king!!
You won’t often hear me say this, but this pattern offers some flexibility with gauge…
The pattern is able to do this because it is a top-down design. This means that it is simple to adjust to your personal fit. You can read about all the ways you can easily alter top down sweaters here, but most of them are small tweaks here and there at the ‘yoke splitting’ stage. This way, you know early on in the pattern how it’s going to fit.
The sweater is intentionally designed with 8 – 10cm ease at the bust (i.e. the sweater is 8 – 10cm larger than the body measurement) so I have given you room to manoeuvre. If you are not exactly on gauge, the pattern will forgive you!!
The arms are designed to be a little closer fitting, but because of this ease of adjustment, you can easily increase the size of the sleeve if needed (it’s simple to steal a couple of stitches from the bust or add some underarm chains when splitting the yoke!)
Wanna see what they all look like? Hit play on the video below for a fun montage… everyone loves a montage!
You can download the pattern now from Love Crafts, Ravelry or Etsy
The writing process
Once I had the design concept worked out, I set about my own swatching and spreadsheet-ing (that’s a verb right?) and making the samples you see here.
I don’t mind saying that I’m pretty good at maths, you have to be in this design business, but round yoke sweaters are hard to design (read about my design approach here if that’s your bag!). There was a lot of swearing!
Getting the numbers right can be tricky but I am nothing if not tenacious about crunching my numbers unto submission!
I also had some fabulous testers to check my work. Have a peek on instagram at the #AnyYarnWillDo hashtag for some examples of what they got up to!
It is so often the case that the simpler a garment is to make (and this is intentionally very straightforward to crochet), the more challenging the design process – simplicity is ironically complex!!
You can read more about the final pattern, the materials, stitches, and measurements and all that stuff in the pattern page, which I won’t duplicate here.
The long and the short of it is that, although this has been an incredible amount of work, I am really happy with the finished pattern. I feel like I can let that idea rest… until it hits me with a spin off at 3am one idle thursday…
If you feel it’s something you want to give a try, I hope you enjoy the making process and showing off the final product! And if you’re new to crochet garments may aim is to give you the confidence boost that you CAN do it! I am always available for pattern support too, so just drop me a line if you get stuck!
Thank you for allowing me to share the inspiration behind this design. There is so much which goes on behind the scenes with my design process. Stuff I had no idea about before I started designing (and nobody told me!!), so I hope you find this small insight interesting!!
Oh and if you have struggled with gauge, or always been to scared about attempting a garment and this pattern is the one that works for you, please do let me know. It makes all those spreadsheets and cross eyes worth while!!
Big Love and Happy Hooking