My 1970s crochet jacket turned out to be so popular that another chap has asked me to make him a jacket using the same stitch, to a drawing of his own design (he is an ex-fashion student who has designed his own garments but knows nothing about crochet). Unfortunately I don’t really know anything about pattern design myself: my alterations to crochet/knitting patterns have been limited to adding extra rows or pattern repeats where a body/sleeve was coming out obviously too short. I’ve taken all the relevant measurements on him that I could think of.

He is proposing to choose and pay for the wool himself, so the first thing I need to do is to establish roughly how much wool the garment will need. I have a few men’s knitting patterns and a generic book that tells you how much 2-, 3- and 4-ply wool is used, as a rule of thumb, in different types and sizes of garment – but frankly I don’t think any of these are any guide at all, as crochet is very different from knitting and this particular textured stitch uses a great deal of wool. I made up a test square using a 50g ball of Aran weight wool, which came out at only 9 1/2″ × 8 1/2 ".

The best approach I can think of is to make up some paper pattern pieces to fit the measurements I’ve got, i.e. 38" chest/hip, etc., using the fairly basic shape given in the original magazine pattern (reducing just a little at the waist for a more fitted look), then to work out the number of stitches needed to make that shape – what I really need to know is what depth to start the armhole and how far in, how deep the sleeve should be to fit a given armhole, and so on.

I found a men’s jacket pattern on the Modern Sewing Patterns website which is similar to the close-fitting, slightly waisted style that he wants; would it be possible to print out the pattern pieces from this and use them (a) as a guide to the number of 50g balls required and (b) as a guide to the depth of armholes etc? This jacket has separate side pieces whereas knitting patterns consist of a flat front/back with an armhole cutaway.

My book on altering/designing patterns (1930s/40) advises “Working from dressmakers’ paper patterns is not generally advisable since … extra measurement for fittings and turnings is allowed and considerable adjustments will therefore be necessary”, and recommends drawing up a diagram on squared paper; unfortunately, it only gives squared diagrams for the women and children’s section and doesn’t give any samples as a guide for men’s proportions, though it supplies partial diagrams for altering a men’s crew-neck to a V-neck and so on….

Then I can work out how to make the specific (not terribly complicated, i.e. high collar; crochet is nice and stiff when doubled) changes that he wants. But we do need some idea as to how much wool will be involved, as it will clearly be a great deal: I’m hoping to do a rough estimate of the number of bean stitches involved (e.g. only 24 across for the 34" bust measurement) and multiply up, going by the number in my test piece. Is this a workable idea?

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  • Sewing_machine_large

    Feb 8, 2011, 12.31 AMby bjr99

    I am a knitter not a crocheter so I hope I can help you.

    You need to make up a swatch in the stitch you will be using which I believe you have already done. In knitting you count the number of stiches per 4in or 10cm. and the number of rows per 4in.or 10 cm. Take these numbers and divide them by 4 in. or 10cm and that will give you the number of stitches or rows to the inch or cm. You can then calculate how many stiches to cast on, how many rows to knit, when to increase and when to decrese. A flat pattern can be your guide as to when to make the increases and decreses. I would assume that chrochet is much the same. If you knit the swatch in the yarn you intend to use for the garment then you will know how much area one ball of yarn will cover. The label should tell you how many yards are in a ball. It is all just a lot of math. You do need to keep in mind that yarn does not drape the same as fabric. The yarn you have chosen may be too stiff or to drapy for the design. Your swatch will give you an idea of how the yarn will react.

    I don’t know if you are aware, but there is a sight for knitters and crocheters. It is Ravelry.com I would guess that there would be someone there who could help you if you need help.

    Good luck with your project. Let us know how it turns out.

  • 121bcd6a71a_avatar_large

    Feb 9, 2011, 12.56 AMby harrietbazley

    I’ve looked at the men’s sweater patterns in the book carefully, and although they don’t actually give the diagrams of the flat pattern pieces, I think I can calculate backwards from the numbers of stitches decreased to work out the necessary depth of armhole, etc. :)

    Crochet is considerably stiffer than knitting for the same gauge of wool, using more wool per square inch, but as I want this to be a fairly stiff outer garment that’s probably a good thing. It sounds as if drawing up a paper diagram is definitely the way to go (and possibly testing it on the recipient first!)

    I think I have come across ravelry.com in search results in the past: it’s one of these sites that won’t even let you view its content without registering first (if I can’t see what it does, why would I want to register?), which I’m afraid I have always found very offputting, whether registration is ‘free’ or not :( So I go on elsewhere….

  • Sewing_machine_large

    Feb 9, 2011, 10.50 AMby bjr99

    Glad you are figuring it out ;)))

    Ravelryis a free site. I have to admit I find it rather hard to navigate at times. The Burda site is so straight forward. I still would join Ravelry and see if someone could help you.

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