Are you ready to get stitching? This is week two of the Crochet Designing Challenge: Bag & Totes! Last week I gave you a few challenges to complete. Were you able to get them done? I hope so because we’re moving right along in this challenge! We’re putting yarn to hook this week and doing some crochet math magic! Are you ready?
Is this your first time joining us? It’s not too late to join in! Read Week One’s Challenge HERE!
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I’m sure you’ve spent this last week sketching multiple ideas of what you want your bag or tote to look like. You have several pieces of paper scattered on the dining room table. You’ve searched through page after page of various yarn choices and finally decided on what yarn you want to use. Your hook is ready, and now you’re wondering what stitches or stitch patterns you’ll use to work up this design.
How Do I Figure Out Which Stitches To Use For My Design?
When deciding which stitches or stitch patterns to use for your designs, there is a lot of trial and error…and a lot of swatches! First, let me explain the difference between stitch and stitch patterns. Stitches are the building blocks of crochet. Stitches refer to the single stitches we use in crochet, like the slip stitch, single crochet, double crochet, half double crochet, treble crochet, etc. You get the point. Stitch patterns, on the other hand, are an arrangement of those basic stitches that creates a visual pattern.
Your design’s visual “look” will depend on which stitch or stitch pattern you use. Some designers will play with various stitches they’re familiar with to create their idea’s “look” or stitch pattern. Designers will also use stitch dictionaries as a guide to help them find the perfect stitch pattern. Crochet stitch dictionaries are invaluable resources for any crochet designer and can be helpful when creating a new design! In my ULTIMATE STITCH DICTIONARY GUIDE, I share all the best-kept secrets and how to properly use these resources without infringing on copyright!
Have you guessed what assignment #1 is for this week? That’s right! Figure out the “look” of your design by finding the stitch or stitch pattern you want to work with! Here’s an excellent tip for finding the right stitch/stitch pattern: Keep It Super Simple! Don’t overcomplicate it! Especially if this is your first design!
Purchase the Ultimate Stitch Dictionary Guide Today
Once you know what stitch or stitch pattern you want to work with for your design, it’s time to work up a gauge swatch! This small piece of fabric will help you figure out a lot of information for your design! In my WHY GAUGE IS IMPORTANT article, I share exactly what gauge is, the industry standard for crochet gauge, why gauge is so important in designing, and so much more!
You wouldn’t be wrong if you think your next assignment is to work up a gauge swatch! Grab your hook and yarn, and let’s talk about how to create a gauge swatch.
When creating a new design swatch, I always try to make a swatch that measures approximately 5-6 inches wide. This will ensure proper and accurate 4-inch measurement of my stitches and rows. Remember: the edges of any swatch you create are not your true gauge; they’ll always be wonky. Do you HAVE to have an exact 5-6 inch swatch? No, it doesn’t have to be exact, but I would make sure it’s wide enough to measure the center 4 inches.
Your swatch may end up being 7 inches wide, and that’s totally fine! The width and height of your swatch will depend on your stitch pattern and row repeats. So, how do you crochet a swatch approximately 5-6 inches wide? Easy! Create enough chains that measure about 6 inches! Make sure you take your stitch multiples into account when creating your chain.
For example, if you use a stitch pattern with multiples of 17 + 3 beg-ch, you wouldn’t start your swatch with 47 chains. 47 ÷ 17 = 2.7647058824. You would need to add seven more chains to equal 54.
54 – 3 beginning chains = 51.
51 ÷ 17 = 3.
So you’ll work your stitch multiple a total of three times across the width of your swatch. Designer Tip: When creating a swatch with multiples, it’s best to work your multiples at least 3-4 times across the width of your swatch. This will help give you a better idea of what the stitch pattern will look like when it’s worked up.
There are two main reasons why we’re going to work up a gauge swatch when designing our bag pattern:
- To see if the yarn, hook size, and stitch/stitch pattern all mesh and give you the desired look. You might work up your swatch and discover that the “look” you wanted isn’t coming through with the stitch pattern you chose. You might need to go down a hook size. Go up a hook size. Find a size yarn. Choose a different color. Pick a different brand. You might need to change the stitch/stitch pattern completely. Very rarely does a designer work up ONE swatch and think, “This is perfect!”
- To figure out all the nitty gritty design details like:
- Your starting stitches.
- Your Row/Round count.
- How much yarn you’ll need.
Side Note: If your bag design is worked in rounds… You’ll need to work your gauge swatch in the round. I share how to easily do this in my WHY GAUGE IS SO IMPORTANT article.
Let’s Figure Out How Much Yarn You’ll Need
Once you have your swatch worked up, it’s now time to calculate how much yarn you’ll need for your design. Working up this math magic won’t give you the EXACT amount of yarn, but you’ll get a really great estimate!
There are several measurements you’ll need to estimate your yarn calculations:
- The desired width of your bag
- The desired height of your bag
- The actual width and height of your swatch in centimeters
- The weight of your swatch in grams
The first thing to figure out is the area of your swatch. To get that measurement, you’ll multiply the width of your swatch by its length. Let’s use my swatch as an example:
The area of my swatch is 13 cm * 13.5 cm = 175 cm². I use centimeters when designing because you can get more accurate measurements. To convert inches to centimeters, multiply the inches by 2.54. There is 2.54 cm in one inch.
The area of my swatch is 175 cm². Next, you’ll need the area of your finished bag. To get that measurement, you’ll multiply the desired finished width by the desired finished height of your bag. Then you’ll take that number and multiply it by 2. I’ll use the measurements for the bag I’m designing: 44.45 cm wide * 38.1 cm in height = 1689.1 cm², and we’ll multiply that number by 2 because we have two sides of our bag! 1689 * 2 = 3378.2 cm².
If your design consists of just a front and back panel sewn together, you can move to measurements for your handles. However, if your bag is designed to have a base or depth, then we also need to account for a few more calculations. Using my bag design as an example, I want to design my bag with a base that has a depth of 25.4 cm. So, I’ll multiply the width of my bag by the depth of my bag. 44.45 * 25.4 = 1129.03 cm². Since we only have one base, we won’t have to multiply it by two.
One last measurement (for now) to account for is the side panels of my bag. The diagram below will show you all the dimensions to account for when calculating yarn amount.
The width of my side panels will be 25.4 cm, the same measurement as my depth. And my height measurement will be the same as my front and back panels, 38.1 cm. Here’s how my calculations will work: 25.4 * 38.1 = 967.74 cm² and we’ll multiply it by 2 because we have two side panels. 967.74 * 2 = 1935.48 cm².
- Area of swatch = 175 cm²
- Area of front and back panels = 3378.2 cm²
- Area of base = 1129.03 cm²
- Area of side panels = 1935.48 cm²
We also need to account for the amount of yarn our handles will use. You’ll use the same kind of math formula width * length * 2. If you only have one handle, don’t multiply by 2. Using my bag handles as an example: 330.2 cm long * 5.08 wide = 1677.416 cm². Yes, I know my handles seem long, but it’ll all make sense once you see my finished bag!
- Area of handles = 1677.416 cm²
Now that we have all our measurements let’s do more math magic to calculate an estimate of the amount of yarn it’ll take to work up our design! To do that, we need to know what the TOTAL area of our bag is. Here’s how you’ll figure that out:
area of front/back panels + area of base + area of side panels + area of handles =
3378.2+ 1129.03 + 1935.48 + 1677.416 = 8,120.126 Total Area
Once you have your total area, you’ll now figure out how many of your swatches will fit into the total area of your bag. 8,120.126 (total area) ÷ 175 (area of swatch) = 46.40072. I’ll just round that to 47. It’ll take 47 of my gauge swatches to finish my bag. Just a few more math calculations and we’ll be done! Did you weigh your swatch? I use my kitchen scale to weigh my swatches. Don’t have a kitchen scale? You can buy one like mine HERE.
You can see from the photo above that my swatch weighs 20 g. Now, we’ll multiply the weight of our swatch by the number of swatches we’ll need to finish our bag. Using my bag as an example: 20 * 47 = 940. I’ll need approximately 940 g of yarn to finish my bag.
Last week, one of your assignments was figuring out what yarn you’ll use for your design. I hope you kept the label! I decided to use LILY SUGAR’N CREAM yarn. One skein of this yarn is 3 oz (85g). To figure out how many skeins you need for your bag design, you’ll need to divide the approximate grams of your finished bag by the grams of one skein of yarn. Using my calculations as an example: 940 ÷ 85 = 11.0588235294 or 11 skeins. Of course, this is a rough estimate, but our calculations should be close.
Assignments for this week:
- Figure out which stitch/stitch pattern you want to use for your design (Purchase the ULTIMATE STITCH DICTIONARY GUIDE for help)
- Work up a gauge swatch
- Do all the math magic to calculate how much yarn you’ll need
- Order your yarn
If you’re unsure how many beginning chains to start with or how many rows to work for your bag design, Sign-Up to become part of the FLOCK (aka join my newsletter list). This will be the topic for this week! Let me know in the comments below how many skeins of yarn you’ll need for your design!