How to Crochet a Cardigan
Are you a seasoned veteran of crochet, but you've never tried to tackle a cardigan before? Maybe you're new to the crochet world, but a cardigan pattern has you itching to give it a try. Either way, cardigan crocheting doesn't need to be intimidating. Follow a few simple steps and you'll be on your way to crochet success.
Things You'll Need
- Crochet cardigan pattern
- Crochet hook
- Stitch markers
Select a pattern. If you are a beginner, try a top-down pattern. This will be worked all in one piece from the neck to the hem, with the sleeves added later. This is an easier style to crochet because there are no seams to sew at the end of the project. If you are comfortable with seaming, try a traditional cardigan, which will be worked in pieces and sewn together at the end.
If you have a pattern book, chances are the patterns will be listed by difficulty level. Pick an easy pattern if this is your first garment, and work your way up in difficulty as your skills progress. If you need a pattern, you can find them for free or a small cost online. Another approach is to visit your local yarn shop and ask one of the employees to help you choose a good pattern.
Choose your yarn. Think about weight, cost, color and season before doing so. How much yarn does your pattern call for, and what weight? You do not have to make the cardigan from the same yarn used in the pattern sample, but you should stick to the same weight (worsted, DK, fingering, etc.). The pattern should also tell you how many yards of yarn you will need.
Depending on the quantity of yarn you need, you next need to factor in cost. You can purchase acrylic yarn for relatively low cost, which might be a good option for your cardigan. If you prefer to use wool, cotton or other natural fibers, the yarn will be more expensive. If your pattern calls for 600 to 800 yards of yarn and you pay $20 for a 200-yard skein, the cost can rise significantly.
You should also consider color of the yarn -- what color will you wear often? What will match other items in your wardrobe? Finally, consider the season: If you want a lightweight cardigan for spring, you might want to consider cotton or bamboo fiber instead of wool. However, wool and acrylic are cozy options for a winter sweater.
Read the pattern carefully before beginning to make sure you have everything you will need from start to finish. Since your sweater is a cardigan, chances are it needs buttons. Find out how many you will need and what size they should be. Then visit a local discount or craft store to buy buttons to coordinate with your yarn in the size and quantity stated by the pattern. You can always change the size of your buttonholes, or the number, if you feel comfortable doing this. If you are still a beginner, though, it would be better to stick with the pattern directions. You will also need to buy a crochet hook in the size called for in the pattern (if you do not already own it). The pattern may also require stitch markers or other notions.
Begin working on the cardigan. If your pattern mentions gauge, pay attention: Gauge is the size your stitches should be when worked in the pattern directions. You should crochet a gauge swatch before beginning your sweater -- directions should be at the beginning of the pattern. If your swatch is the same size called for in the pattern, you're ready to begin on your sweater. If your swatch is too small, switch to a larger crochet hook and swatch again. If it is too large, switch to a smaller hook. Keep swatching until your measurements match the gauge in the pattern.
Troubleshoot problems. If you are making your cardigan for yourself or someone else, the best thing you can do is hold up your work to your model as often as possible. If you are working a top-down cardigan, you can literally slip it on over your shoulders and measure the fit. If it is too small, you may need to go up a hook size or add stitches to certain rows; if too large, do the opposite. If you are crocheting a cardigan in pieces, you can measure fit by holding it up to yourself (or to the person you're making it for) and judging sizing that way.
Finish your sweater. Once you have completed all of the stitches, you will need to put the finishing touches on your cardigan. If you created a top-down cardigan, you will need to sew on the buttons and weave in the ends of your yarns from where you switched skeins along the way. If your cardigan was made in pieces, you will need to seam them together and then add buttons and weave in ends.
Measure the size you want your cardigan to be, and stretch it to that size for blocking. Then pin it to a soft surface, such as a blocking board. If you don't have a blocking board, you can lay out your cardigan on a flat surface, such as a towel on the floor or on a desk or table. Then spray with water from a squirt bottle and stretch or compress until your cardigan is even and properly sized.
- Check your sizing along the way. That way, if you have to rip out stitches, it will only be a few.
- If you are confused by a pattern direction, ask for help from seasoned crocheters or to your local yarn store. The employees there should be able to help you navigate the pattern.
- Don't get discouraged. If at first you don't succeed, frog (rip out your stitches) and try again.
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