Crochet Advice and Tips

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

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!


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,


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

3 sc in one stitch?

hi sweaterbabe,

i know this is going to sound dumb but i am trying to teach myself how to crochet. i started an afghan and it says to do 3 sc in a stich and i don't understand after the first sc where to place the hook to start the next on.

do i place it at the bottom where i started first one or up under the two new st that was made by the first sc stich? thank you for helping

-- terry

and from another crocheter:

Ok, so I am just starting and i don't understand how to follow these instructions... 3 dc in next ch How can you work 3 dc in one chain? Could you help me out? Thanks

-- Meghan

Dear Terry and Mehan,

It's easy to work multiple dc's or sc's in a single place, though I guess it seems strange at first!  But it does make for very pretty stitch patterns.

Anyhow, to work a second sc in the same st as the first one, just insert your hook in the exact same space/st as you did for the first sc.  If you can, imagine that the first sc never happened and just put another sc in the same place.

So, more specifically, insert your hook into whereever you'd like to place the sc.  In this case it's just the same place as you put the last sc.  Complete your sc as usual - yo, pull loop through, yo, pull through 2 loops on hook.  Your second sc is complete.

To do a third sc in the same space, insert you hook into that same sp again to position the next sc.  It might be a little tighter because that space is already used, but just use the pointy part of hook's tip to get in there.

The same idea goes for working multiple dc's in the same ch.  First, work the first dc in the chain, then yo (to start a dc) and insert your hook into the same chain (the exact same place you just used for the first dc) and finish the dc.  Repeat to put a 3rd dc in the same chain.

You now have multiple stitches that are gathered at the base because they are coming from the same st or chain, but are fanning out for a pretty stitch effect.

Hope that is clearer now!

-- SweaterBabe  

Determining how much yarn to order.

Dear SweaterBabe,

I have found some bulky yarn on sale. The yarn skein contains 57.5 yards, needle size is 10-11 and 3.75 sts over 4". My vest pattern that I want to knit is for a needle size 13 and 2.5 sts over 4″. I need 400 yards for my vest.

My question is there a mathematical formula that I can use to determine how much yarn to order. Scared that I will not order enough and since this yarn is online I cannot knit a swatch.

-- Connie

Dear Connie,

You actually can easily detemine how much yarn to order since all you need is the yardage.

Your vest requires 400 yards and the sale yarn comes in 57.5 yard balls.  Therefore, 400 / 57.5 = 7 balls.  I might order 8 just to be safe.

However, what I'm wondering is if your question means that you will be doing any changes to the pattern.  A pattern that has a gauge of 2.5 sts = 1" (I think you meant 1", not 4") seems like a Super Bulky yarn vs. the sale yarn, which is Bulky yarn with a gauge of 4 sts = 1" (I think you meant 1", not 4" here as well).  I would actually be concerned that the yarn you are substituting may not be thick enough.

The only way to really test it will be to order it, do the gauge swatch, and measure it.

Best of luck and I hope I've answered your question!

-- SweaterBabe

If you have a knitting or crochet question for SweaterBabe, please email it to [email protected].  Please do NOT post it as a comment here.  Not all questions can be answered due to the large volume of questions, but many are selected and answered each month here on the Blog and in the newsletters.  Thanks!

Changing Colors and Weaving in Loose Ends

Dear SweaterBabe,

I am sooooo frustrated with adding a different color to crochet item. I try and try to do the loop thru stitch before-- but ALWAYS they are the 1st ones to com apart when i wash the item. N E advice to help??

-- Donna from Iowa

Dear Donna,

As a knitting and crochet instructor, I always make sure I cover the topic of weaving in loose ends as the proper way to finish all knit and crochet items.  Unfortunately, so many knitters and crocheters are completely unaware of this finishing technique or were never really taught the right way to do it!  It's too bad, because doing it right can make all the difference in how long your projects will last (especially if they are to be washed frequently).

So, to answer your specific question, you are correct in changing to the new color by using the new color for the final "yarn over and pull through" of your last stitch.  However, I highly recommend that you leave a 6-8" tail of BOTH the new and old color.  These 6-8" tails will be the loose ends that will hang from your work until you are ready for finishing.  Then, they will be "woven" in at finishing to complete the project.

You can also tie the new and old colors together in a loose knot if you prefer (keep it loose so that you can undo the know when you are ready for finishing).  Otherwise, just leave them loose and any stitches next to the joining that need to be tightened can be tightened when the loose ends get woven in.

How do you weave in the loose ends?  Thread each of the 6-8" tails into a yarn/tapestry needle (a sewing needle that is made for yarn) and "weave" the needle into your knitted or crocheted fabric with the goal of hiding your needle (so that the loose strand will get hidden in your work).  For instance, if your loose end is at the edge or your work, begin poking your tapestry needle into your work starting at the edge and working in or along the edge (depends on where it can best be hidden).  As you poke your needle in the fabric, if you see large parts of your needle through your work, you should pull the needle out and try again. 

The goal here is to really bury the yarn inside the fabric.  For crochet fabrics, this is a bit easier due to the thickness of crochet.  I often hide loose ends in the insides of a row of single crochet, or along the base of a row of double crochet stitches.  For knitting, I often split the yarn and hide the loose end that way. 

I recommend weaving in the loose end for about 2" in one direction, then changing directions and weaving in the loose end another 2".  This sounds like a lot, but I believe it's necessary to ensure that that loose end will never worm itself out enough to cause anything to unravel.  This is especially important if the yarn is a slipperly silk or rayon blend.

Be sure to hide each loose end in its same color area.  And if you are hiding loose ends near a seam, just hide the end in the inside of the seam.

Hope that answers your questions!

-- SweaterBabe

Do you have a knitting or crochet question for SweaterBabe?  Email it to [email protected].  Please do not post it as a comment here.  Unfortunately, not all questions can be answered due to the large volume of questions, but many are chosen and answered here on the Blog and through the newsletters. Thanks!

How do I increase X sts evenly spaced? For knitting and crochet instructions.

Dear SweaterBabe,

I know I am in over my head, but I can never seem to understand some patterns.

This is for an afghan.

Cast on 219 sts. work seed st for 2 (I am guessing this is 2 rows.)

Next row; work 7 seed sts over next 205 sts, increasing 21 evenly spaced;(where did the 205 sts come from I thought we were working with 219 sts?)work 7 seed sts--240 sts.

Help !! I thought myself to knit and for some reason I really have a hard time with some patterns, what am I missing?

--Brenda Morton

Dear Brenda,

I'm wondering if your pattern is just missing a LOT of punctuation!

Here is my best guess to what it is saying:

Cast on 219 sts.  work seed st for 2
I think it might mean 2" OR 2 Rows.  Is there no photo to go with the afghan?  You should be able to see if there is a 2" seed stitch border at the beginning or what just looks like 2 rows.

Next row; work 7 seed sts over next 205 sts, increasing 21 evenly spaced;(where did the 205 sts come from I thought we were working with 219 sts?)work 7 seed sts--240 sts.
This reads to me: Work seed st over next 7 sts, then increase 21 sts evenly across the next 205 sts, work seed st over the remaining 7 sts. 

The 7 sts on either side are for the seed stitch border.  Assuming this is probably close to 2", I actually now believe the first instruction above is to do seed stitch for 2" to get a border that is the same width all around.

To calculate how to increase 21 sts evenly across 205 sts, you need to do some math:
205/21 = 9.76.  So, if you were to increase after every 9th st, that would not be so even since 21 x 9 = 189, which still leaves 205 - 189 = 16 sts to work.  Looks like you need to do something like increase every alternating 9th and 10th stitch to have it be more evenly across.  [Note, at this point, if you are not so concerned about it being SO even, you can do the increase after every 9th st and be done with the math.]  ALSO, when I say "increase after a stitch,", I am assuming the "make 1" increase technique.

If you map that out, it looks like this:
Seed st for 7 sts; [work 9 sts, m1, work 10 sts, m1] 10 times, work 15 sts; seed st for 7 sts.

I would probably take the 15 sts at the one end and the 9 sts at the other end and split it out better...
Seed st for 7 sts; work 12 sts, [m1, work 10 sts, m1, work 9 sts] 10 times, work 3 sts; seed st for 7 sts.

I'm saying "work" because I'm not clear from the pattern if you are still in seed stitch for the 205 sts or in some other stitch pattern!  

Unfortunately, this seems like a poorly written pattern.  I would not be surprised if you encounter more confusing instructions as you keep going.  I HIGHLY recommend that you read through the rest and see if it makes sense.  If it really doesn't, consider finding another pattern!  To me, it's not worth the aggravation to work through a pattern that is just NOT written with clear instructions.

Hope that helps!