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I don’t like being wrong. Most people don’t. Luckily, at 34, I’m old enough to know that at most times I will be wrong and then I’ll readily admit it, but it has to be proven that I was wrong. (No point admitting something when there’s a chance that I could have been right – that’s just losing face for no reason!)

In the spirit of being an adult, and admitting to mistakes, I have to admit that I’ve been proven wrong on two fronts. Both relate to my latest crochet project: The Wearable.

If I admit it, that means it’s been proven, so take heed fellow hookers, don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Mistake no. 1: Gauge swatches are a waste of time.

The pattern (Whispers by Garnstudio), states

DROPS CROCHET HOOK size 3.5 mm/E/4 – or size needed to get 4 x 4 repetitions = 10 x 10 cm / 4” x 4”

I knew this, what looks like a maths equation, is the gauge guide. I found a couple of videos on YouTube and blog posts that kept on saying how extremely important correct gauge is when you make something that needs to fit well. Got it. Need to make gauge swatch. Need to fit 4 repeats into 10cm.

I started with the recommended 3.5 mm hook. Got 5 repeats in 10cm. One website said that when that happens I need to go up a hook size, the other website said I had to go down. So I did it again with a 3 mm hook. Same thing: 5 repeats. Got out my favourite 4 mm hook and lo and behold I managed 4 repeats! Yeah!!!

With the 4mm hook I made the foundation chain of 132 stitches for size M. It looked a bit too long. Maybe a lot too long, so I measured the chain.

The chain was 72 cm, which is basically the width of the finished jacket in size XXXL according to this diagram! What the hell?! My size is meant to be 53 cm wide. That’s a foundation chain of almost 20cm too long!

Fear not, it’s just the foundation chain. I undid it, and started again with the 3.5 mm hook. Guess what. My 132 stitches made a chain of….53 cm. Spot on!

So, to me, at that stage at least, it meant that my gauge swatch exercise was a waste of time: all I had to do was make the foundation chain for my size and it would have told me if I had the right hook size – WRONG!

After hooking for 30cm, the back piece had “shrunk” in width to be less than size S, even if I stretched it out! I needed to make bigger stitches… which means a larger crochet hook…which means my current gauge was wrong…. which means the gauge swatch was right. Bummer.

Lessons learned:

  • An open, lacey pattern will shrink in width the longer it gets so a long foundation chain is not an indication of finished width.
  • I do not crochet at the same gauge as the Garnstudio people (why would I think I do? Oh yes, because I’m never wrong.)
  • Do a gauge swatch.
  • Do as the gauge swatch says!
  • Frogging 30 cm is much faster than crocheting 30 cm.

2. The pattern is wrong

At the 30cm mark I not only realised the width of my back piece was wrong, but also that it was too long. My pattern stated:

Continue to work diagram M.1 (1st row is now done, beg on 2nd row) = 19-21-23-25-27-29 repetitions. When piece measures 10 and 20 cm / 4″ and 8″ – Read MEASURING TIP, dec ½ repetition in each side

but I read the “and” as an “or”. Don’t ask – I don’t know how that happened. In my mind that sentence didn’t make any sense ergo the pattern must be wrong and I chose to ignore the 10 cm instruction. – WRONG!

I also read “Continue to work in diagram M.1 = 19-21-23-25-27-29 repetitions” as “crochet 21 rows of the M.1 pattern”, in stead of “you should have 21 repeats in a row”. It was this bit that lead me to Ravelry to ask someone for help. I wanted to know how the pattern writers could ask me to crochet 21 rows to reach 10 and or 20 cm, when I was only at 19 rows and already at 30cm long and I haven’t even started decreasing for the armholes yet (hoping of course that someone would say the pattern is wrong).

The lovely Imke Healy answered my question within the hour. Thank goodness for fellow crocheters willing to help out strangers with stupid questions! I’m so grateful to her! She didn’t say the pattern was wrong, but rather said I would have to start  over and pointed out the error of my ways. Tough love.

(By the way, check out her blogpost here. She’s already blocking her cardigan and even modified the sleeves! Strange but true fact: we share the same birthday and are both making blue cardigans. Freaky.)

Lessons learned:

  • Read the pattern.
  • “and” does not mean “or”
  • The chances that a crochet pattern is wrong, is much much much smaller than the chances that I’m reading it wrong.
  • Ask for help.
  • Read the pattern!

Lessons learnt and mistakes admitted. Here’s hoping the front and the sleeves go smoothly.

On a philosophical note, and to make myself feel better, here’s a nice quote.

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