Ask SweaterBabe

Turning a dishcloth pattern into an afghan or baby blanket.

Dear SweaterBabe,

I have a lot of patterns for dishcloths that I would like to make into afghan sizes and baby blanket sizes. Is there a formula for increasing a crochet pattern or decreasing a pattern.

-- Dawn

Dear Dawn,

Without seeing what your dishcloth pattern looks like, I can try to give some general advice.

Most crochet patterns have a section that repeats, then some number of chains that is needed to get started.  That's why many crochet stitch patterns says to begin by chaining a multiple of X plus Y sts.

If you can figure out what that X and Y are for your dishcloth pattern, then you can extrapolate and make an afghan or baby blanket out of the same pattern.

For example, if it seems like the dishcloth pattern is over a multiple of 3 sts plus 4, then you just need to determine how many multiples of 3 will get you the width that you want for your afghan or blanket and add the chain 4.

Assuming the dishcloth is 14" wide or so, multiplying it by 5 will give you approximately a 70" wide afghan...

Many well-written patterns will provde the stitch pattern in a generic form (thereby providing the "mult of X plus Y" instruction needed) separately from the specific instructions for the project. 

Hope that helps!

-- SweaterBabe

Knitting Squares

Hey SweaterBabe,

I was just wondering. I'm making squares to make a baby blanket. I cast on 50 stitches and I was wondering, would I need to knit 50 rows to make it an even square, or would I need to knit 100 rows?

-- Brianna

Dear Brianna,

Neither!  Most stitches are not perfectly square, nor are they half as tall as they are wide.

What you are asking is based on your knitting gauge, i.e. how many stitches and rows equal X inches given your knitting tension, the needle size, and the stitch you are using.

For example, a common knitting gauge with medium weight yarn might be 14 sts and 18 rows = 4".  So, to make a 4" square, you would knit 14 sts and 18 rows. 

To make a square with 50 sts, you will have to calculate that 50 sts divided by (14 sts/4") =  approximately 14.25".  To get 14.25" of rows, you need to knit (18 rows/4") x 14.25 = approximately 64 rows.

So, measure your knitting gauge (by making a swatch and then measuring it), then you can calculate exactly how many rows will get you the same length as your 50 stitches.



Multiple of 8 sts plus 2.

Hi SweaterBabe,

Just wondered when a pattern says to chain in multiples of 8 plus 2, how do you decide how many chains to do? Thanks

-- Maya

Dear Maya,

When a pattern says to cast on or chain a multiple of 8 plus 2, it is only explaining how the stitch pattern works.  That lace, cable, or whatever stitch pattern works if you have 8 + 2 chains (or stitches), 16 + 2 chains (or stitches), 24 + 2 chains (or stitches), etc.

Keep looking later in the pattern and it should say chain X, X being the very specific number of chains that are needed to make the project in the pattern.  If not, then I think there must be a typo!

Happy crocheting and knitting!


Measuring knitting rows.

Hello Sweaterbabe,

When a pattern says, "Knit until the length is so many inches", do you measure from the stitches on the needle, or only the actual fabric just below?

Thanks, Carolyn  

Dear Carolyn,

I believe it doesn't really matter, as long as you are consistent for the same project.  That being said, I always measure from just under the needle.  That is how I've learned from books and it is easier to do (since what you are measuring is flat).

I don't think it really matters, especially if you aren's using the really bulky needles (sizes 15 or more).  One row won't affect the overall length much in these cases.  But you do want to make sure that whatever row measures that X" for you is the same row you use for the front vs. the back, the left sleeve vs. the right sleeve, etc. 

Also, if you are measuring up to a certain length to bind off, that last row that is on your needles will get "bound off" and often "used up" in the shoulder seam.

AND, a lot of times a pattern will say, work until body measures X", ending on a WS row.  If you end up just having done a RS row when you measure X", then you will have to work an extra row to get to the correct side of your knitting anyhow.

Hope that answers it!  Just be consistent.



Crochet Cluster Stitch

Dear SweaterBabe,

Cluster (CL): Keeping last lp of each dc on hook, 2 dc from front to back to front around post of st indicated; YO and draw through all 3 lps on hook - CL made.

I understand how to do the dc (double crochet), YO, & I know where the "post" is, but how do I keep the last lp of each dc on hoop? Don't we always do that? Help.


-- Eglina

Dear Eglina,

"Keeping last lp of each dc on hook" means to skip that final "yo, pull through last 2 lps" of each dc.

So, think about how you make a regular dc. . . you do this:

Yo, insert hook into st or space, yo, pull 1 lp through, [yo, pull through 2 lps] 2 times.

That last part in the brackets, only do once instead of the 2 times.  This will leave you with 2 lps still on your hook. This si what ths "keeping last lp of each dc on hook" means.

If you do it again (the 2nd incomplete dc), then you will have the 3 lps left on your hook.  Now, you can do the last phrase of the instruction for your CL to close it.

Hope that explains it!



Which is the first stitch on a new crochet row?

Dear SweaterBabe,

I have been crocheting for the last few years but, after all this time I still haven't figured out one thing. Just supposing I have a row of treble stitches done, at the start of the row where the loop is with the hook, is this my first stitch?

Thanking You,

-- Cathy

Dear Cathy,

If I am understanding you correctly, then no, the loop that is sitting on your crochet hook when you first turn to start a new row is not your first stitch.

The next "chain" that you see is the first stitch in which you can work a new treble.  By "chain," I mean what resembles a chain (like the chains that you made to start your crocheting) and has 2 strands, a left and right half.  It will be just adjacent to the loop on your hook, in fact, your loop on your hook will be coming from that chain.

Hope that explains it!

Happy crocheting,


Edges Curling on Knitting.

Dear SweaterBabe,

I'm a new knitter. Why is it that the edges curl on the scarf that I knitted? Thank You.

Dear New Knitter,

I'm guessing that you are doing the Stockinette Stitch, i.e. knitting row, then purling a row.  Unfortunately, this is a pattern stitch which will give you curled edges.

These same curled edges are like what you see for the rolled collars or cuffs of many kid's sweaters.  You often see them as the rolled brim of a hat as well.

Unfortunately, it is just the nature of this stitch pattern that causes the edges to curl.  Basically, the "surface tension" on the purled side is stronger than the knit side, causing the edges to curl in.

What can you do about it? 

Well, not much.  Especially for a scarf.  As you make the scarf longer and longer, it will gain in it's tendency to curl and you'll end up with a rolled scarf (which was sold as a style this last season by many stores, including the Gap).

I generally never recomment using Stockinette Stitch to make a basic scarf, because of this rolling issue.

Garter stitch is better for scarves (just knitting every row), as it will lay flat and looks the same on both sides.

Some scarves that have Stockinette stitch may not roll so much because they have substantial edgings or other stitch patterns that "fight" or "counter" the curling, and give you a finished scarf that generally lays flat. However, combining stitch patterns maybe something that is a little advanced for a new knitter... better for a future project.

Hope that helps!

-- SweaterBabe

Uneven ribbing with DPN’s

Dear SweaterBabe,

I am knitting a sock on DPN's and my ribbing looks awful....Any tips or tricks to make it look neater would be great.....thanks

-- Kim

Dear Kim,

Yes - keeping your knitting even with DPN's and ribbing can be challenging.

One thing is to make sure you keep a firm tension on the yarn when you are ribbing the first 1-2 sts when you move to a new DPN.

What do I mean by a firm tension?  First, I hope that you are holding the yarn with some amount of tension in the hand that is controlling the yarn.  This would be the right hand if you are a right-handed knitter knitting in the English method. 

This is your natural knitting tension and it is controlled by some consistent way that you hold the yarn as it feeds from the ball and is used to create each new stitch.  Most knitters have the yarn woven through their fingers, often over their index finger, under their middle and ring finger, and either over their pinky or wrapped around their pinky.

Given that you have this natural tension when you normally knit, make it a little firmer by consciously pulling the yarn a little tighter for these first few stitches as you transition from one DPN to the next.  This will help the looseness that can often show between DPNs.

I suggest holding this firmer tension for a few stitches since it takes a few stitches to sort of "stabilize" your knitting on the new DPN, if that makes sense.

And for ribbing in general, the transitions between knit and purl stitches can cause some unevenness.  I believe this is a matter of maintaining your consistent knitting tension, so make sure you are very consistent in how you hold your yarn as you knit.

Hope that helps!

-- SweaterBabe

Crochet Instructions - How to Join?

Dear SweaterBabe,

Duck toy says....... HEAD: With WS of work facing, join MC with ss to first st. i am totally lost!!! i have the bottom part of the duck crocheted. i don't know if i'm supposed to be connecting the head or start separate and connect later or if i connect, where? where i got the pattern from is.... SO CONFUSED!!! would really appreciate the help!

-- shannon

Dear Shannon,

When I first read "Duck toy says...," I thought I was getting some strange spam email... but no, just a crochet question!

Let me try to explain:

"HEAD: With WS of work facing":
Make sure the WRONG side of the work is facing you.  I guess that means the inside of the body (the inside is where the stuffing will go).

"join MC with ss to first st.":
Join the Main Color with a slip stitch to the first stitch.

I'm guessing that if the instruction did not say to fasten off or cut the yarn just before this, then you are changing color because the bottom of the duck and the head (or base of the head) are different colors?  Unfortunately, your link to the pattern isn't working for me.

If this guess is correct, then joining the Main Color with a slip stitch to the first stitch sounds like the same join you do when you complete a round and are "joining in the round".  The reason you do so with the Main Color is that it will make the color transition look better than if you join with the Contrast Color and then change to the Main Color.

It the bottom and head are the same color, then I can give you a different interpretation of your instructions.

Crochet on!

-- SweaterBabe

Yarn Substitution

Dear SweaterBabe,

I purchased the pattern #73 women's top down short sleeved cardigan from you and was hoping to be able to use yarn I have the my gauge is 10 stitches to 3 inches. I was thinking of making the smaller size and using this yarn. It is a softee chunky yarn with a gauge on the label of 15s and 20r for 4x4. Any advice??

Dear Knitter,

Yarn substitution can be tricky if you really want to use a yarn from your stash.

The most important thing is to match the pattern's gauge; however,  it's also important to consider and try to closely match the weight and nature of the yarn.

For example:
-- substituting a medium weight yarn for a bulky weight yarn will cause the stitches to look looser, which may be fine if the new yarn has some mohair or other fluffy fiber in it that will fill in the space; 
-- substituting a boucle yarn for a basic, plied yarn will change the look of the finished project (like obscuring any fancy stitch textures or lace patterning) and may give you an inconsistent gauge;
-- substituting a heavier cotton yarn for a lighter weight synthetic blend will affect the drape and overall weight of a project;
-- substituting a marled or ombre colored yarn for a solid color yarn will make it harder to see delicate stitchwork;

Things like this should be taken into consideration when choosing a yarn substitution.  However, the best test will be to knit a swatch (which you have to do to see if you can match the pattern gauge) and see if you like the effect of the yarn substitution.

In your specific example, the pattern is calling for a bulky weight yarn, which is defined (by, a commonly used standard) as a yarn which knits to a gauge of 3 to 3.75 sts per inch on size 9 to 11 needles.

You yarn seems like a bulky yarn at 15 sts = 4" or 3.75 sts = 1", so that's a good start.

Next step is to see if you can match the gauge called for in the pattern exactly, then you can most likely get good results with your substitution.

The gauge for pattern #73 is 8 stitches = 3” [7.5cm] and approx. 17 rows = 4” [10 cm] on size 11 needles.

Knit a swatch on size 11 needles and see if you meet the gauge.  Be sure to measure it flat and not while the stitches are still on your needle.  If you are a little off, you may be able to change to a needle size bigger or smaller and knit a new swatch.  It's not important what needle size you need, as long as you can achieve the desired gauge.

Once you do match the gauge, you can pretty safely go ahead and feel confident in your substitution.

NOW, if the gauge is a little off, and you still want to use the yarn... you may be able to just knit a smaller or larger size to "make up" for the gauge being off.  This approach can work, but I don't generally recommend it for any projects where the shaping is precise.

Pattern #73 is a top-down pattern which has very specific rows required to complete the raglan shaping from the neck down to the underarms.  If by substituting a yarn that gives a different gauge and knitting different size to compensate, you end up with too few or too many rows once you've completed the shaping the the underarms, you would then need some pattern expertise to know how to continue and make the pattern work from there.  I think most beginners would not want this challenge.

For more on measuring and matching gauge... you can see this previous post on this same topic at:

-- SweaterBabe