There’s nothing that expresses love more than creating a handmade gift for a child. Unfortunately, considering today’s busy lifestyles, few of us have the time necessary to spend working on such projects. But there is good news for people with busy lifestyles. Crochet is back and more popular than ever.
The beauty of crochet is that patterns work up quickly, and the craft is very portable. You can tuck a piece into your work tote or even work on the project while traveling (NOTE: Use wooden hooks if you are planning to travel by commercial airliner). Crochet is easy to learn and even beginner patterns yield great results for the novice. Additionally, while it is helpful to have someone show you how to get started, there is plenty of śhow to books on the market that are great resources for learning this craft.
There are hundreds of crochet sweater patterns from which to choose, and many are designed just for little girls. Patterns are available online or in craft or fabric stores. For a beginner, the advantage of shopping in a store is that staff can offer assistance and answer questions about the suitability of patterns, yarns, and notions.
For children, sweaters can either be simple or adorned with brightly colored buttons or decorative ribbon for a designer look. Choose a pattern that is simple to work up but that can be decorated for the child once it is finished. Cardigans are better for very young children since they are easier to put on than pullovers, and can be quickly removed if the child gets too warm. Although cardigans are not quite as easy to work up as pullovers, beginners can easily master the art of crocheting buttonholes, a chore that can be a bit trickier in a knitted garment.
The key to a great sweater for a little girl is in the yarn selection. Avoid worsted weight or bulky yarn for children’s garments. While these yarns knit up well, they tend to be quite bulky when used for crocheted sweaters. Instead, look for sport or baby yarn in either an acrylic blend or cotton. Check the washing instructions on the yarn label to make sure no special handling is required. If you are using cotton yarn, make the garment a size bigger than the child wears in order to accommodate potential shrinkage.
Even very young girls have color preferences, and the great thing about making a sweater is that you can select the child’s favorite color. If you are unsure, pick a color that compliments the child’s coloring or that will coordinate easily. Primary colors like red, green, or blue are fun for kids to wear but pastels such as pink, lavender, and yellow are very feminine and nice for dress-up. Buy buttons at the same time you purchase your yarn to save time and ensure a great match.
Once you have selected your pattern, yarn and notions, and before you leave the store, look at the directions to make sure that you have the correct size hook. You might want to buy a set of hooks in three or four sizes in case you need to change the size to match the gauge of the pattern. You will also need a needle to use to assemble the sweater. Pick a blunt needle with an eye large enough to accommodate the yarn. You will also need scissors and possibly stitch markers.
Before you start, read the directions carefully, and make sure that you understand the abbreviations used in the pattern. Try the different stitches on a test piece until you have them mastered. Pay particular attention to the gauge. The sizing of the pattern is dependent upon this factor. Always crochet a test piece and measure the number of stitches per inch as well as the number of rows per inch. If your piece is larger, either tighten up your stitches or switch to a smaller hook and make the test piece again. Conversely, if your gauge is smaller than that recommended, either loosen up your stitches or switch to a larger hook. While you are working on the piece, check the gauge again several times to ensure that you are still in compliance.
As you are working the pattern, you may make slight changes in the stitch pattern or length of the pieces. Make notes in the margin of the pattern so that you will remember these changes the next time you use it. Sometimes the pattern may be longer or shorter than desired, and jotting down the measurements is also helpful. Once you get into the flow of the work, it is a good idea to count your stitches periodically to make sure that you have not dropped or added any. The beauty of crochet is that it is very easy to rip out rows and begin again.
Before you assemble the sweater, follow any blocking instructions. This can make the difference between a professional-looking finish and one that looks sloppy. Always assemble the sweater before washing it, and then lay it flat to dry. You may also want to steam the seams for a more finished look. Sew buttons or decorations on after the sweater has been washed.
Once you have mastered the art of crochet, you will almost certainly be hooked and your sweaters in high demand. Having knowledge of this practical craft will ease your holiday shopping woes, allowing you to give great gifts that come from your heart.Once you have mastered