Cro­chet So­lu­tions Fin­ger­ing- & Lace-Weight Yarns

Crochet! - - Crochet Solutions 101 - Fid­dly B Y R E B E CC A V E L A S Q U E Z

Q: I at­tempted a beau­ti­ful laceweight sweater. The stitches were sim­ple, and it called for my fa­vorite hook, size H. I thought it would be a great first ex­pe­ri­ence, but it was in­fu­ri­at­ing! I could not tell one stitch from another. Try­ing to find front loops and back loops was a joke. Ev­ery­thing was fid­dly and floppy. Where did I go wrong?

A: For a be­gin­ner who is work­ing with finer- weight yarns, a big­ger hook isn't al­ways bet­ter.

Be­fore start­ing any pro­ject, get com­fort­able with the yarn size. Make a few swatches us­ing small hooks, such as a size F/5/ 3.75mm or even size E/4/ 3.5mm. If you know your­self to be a loose stitcher, go smaller still. Prac­tice. Cre­ate rows and rows of the pro­ject's stitch pat­tern in minia­ture. Once you feel con­fi­dent us­ing your fine yarn and small hook, grab the next hook size up. Con­tinue to do this un­til you reach the hook re­quired for your pat­tern. With each hook in­crease, you will be able to see how the stitch sta­bil­ity changes, and find­ing your front or back loops should be­come eas­ier and more nat­u­ral.

Q: The ap­par­ent dain­ti­ness is what keeps me from mak­ing a gar­ment in a fine- weight yarn. My worry is the piece won't hold up to be­ing worn.

A: Of course, the finer the yarn, the more del­i­cate your fi­nal prod­uct will be. A lit­tle bit of plan­ning will go a long way when there are con­cerns about wear­a­bil­ity. There are a few op­tions for adding stur­di­ness. Look for a blended yarn. Ny­lon and acrylic fibers will add strength to the piece as well as ease of care. Linen and silk are some nat­u­ral fibers that not only add strength, but a touch of lux­ury too. Another fac­tor to con­sider is the stitch­ing it­self. A loose and/or lacy stitch is more likely to snag on rough sur­faces and catch on jew­elry and but­tons than some­thing more solid. There are sev­eral rea­sons why I pre­fer work­ing with fin­ger­ing- and laceweight yarns.

As a de­signer and wearer of cro­chet gar­ments and ac­ces­sories, the one fac­tor that can, with­out a doubt, make or break a piece is drape. To il­lus­trate con­sider swatch­ing the fol­low­ing ex­er­cises: With 100% nat­u­ral wool, make a dou­ble cro­chet swatch that is 4 inches x 4 inches square us­ing the rec­om­mended hook size for the yarn weight and then wet- block. Make another swatch with a smaller- gauge yarn and us­ing a smaller hook, then a third swatch with an even smaller yarn and a smaller hook. As the yarn size de­creases, the flu­id­ity of the fab­ric in­creases. The more drape the fab­ric has, the more softly and flat­ter­ingly it will fall across the curves of the body. You will find fin­ger­ing- and lace- weight yarns pro­duce more flow while still main­tain­ing a solid fab­ric.

As a non- skinny per­son, the added vis­ual weight of a bulky sweater is never some­thing I de­sire. The ac­tual, phys­i­cal weight of a worsted- weight or heav­ier­weight sweater is an is­sue too, es­pe­cially for those who wear larger sizes. As the

Learn to cre­ate beau­ti­ful drape and lacy fab­rics with light­weight yarns.

day pro­gresses, grav­ity causes neck­lines to sag and ap­pear weary, and shoul­der seams have a ten­dency to pull and be­come un­shapely. Us­ing a finer- weight yarn greatly re­duces these trou­ble spots. Another ad­van­tage of us­ing fin­geringor lace- weight yarn for sweaters and cardi­gans is the ease in lay­er­ing. Per­son­ally, I feel con­stricted in heavy gar­ments. For me, wear­ing mul­ti­ple light lay­ers is much more com­fort­able.

Q: I ab­so­lutely love the look of all the beau­ti­ful lace shawls that are avail­able, but the amount of time I imag­ine these must take keeps me from pick­ing up my hook. What is the av­er­age stitch time for a typ­i­cal shawl?

A: Here's the math: small hook + tiny yarn = more time. There is no get­ting around this.

Of course, ev­ery stitcher will have a dif­fer­ent an­swer, as will ev­ery pat­tern. So, let us ask a dif­fer­ent ques­tion: Is it worth it? In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the an­swer is yes. Ev­ery time.

Just be­cause you can cro­chet does not nec­es­sar­ily mean that you will be able to flaw­lessly ex­e­cute a lace shawl. As with just about ev­ery­thing else, the more you do some­thing, the faster and bet­ter you be­come. First things first: Fa­mil­iar­ize your­self with this size of yarn and its quirks. Make sev­eral swatches in mul­ti­ple stitch pat­terns. At the start, the whole process might be a bit un­nerv­ing, and your small- scale sup­plies will, most likely, make you feel like a clumsy gi­ant. That's OK. These swatches are for your eyes only. Be de­lib­er­ate in your move­ments; stitch with pur­pose. Do not ex­pect per­fec­tion on your first at­tempt, or even your sec­ond or third. The goal is to build con­fi­dence and skill. Wait to tackle your first pro­ject un­til you feel com­fort­able. Be pa­tient with your­self. Re­mem­ber, you are adding an ad­vanced skill set to your cro­chet re­sume.

Maybe you've been eye­ing that pat­tern for quite some time. Maybe you've even pur­chased the yarn you will use. My ad­vice: Dive in!


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