As a designer I do get concerned when people are struggling with one of my patterns. I do my best to work with them to brain storm where something might have gone wrong. Until now my suggestion for achieving correct gauge has always been related to hook size but as I recently found out this isn’t always the answer.
A lot of my patterns are designed in the round. I started to notice that there consistently a few crocheters each design release who were having problems achieving my gauge and getting a swatch that laid the same as mine. Moving up or down hooks sometimes helped a little sometimes not at all so I started to wonder if something more was at play here.
Then I stumbled on a video from It’s all in a nutshell crochet about ‘the golden loop’
It was a light bulb moment! I am a yanker, my stitches are short. Therefore it stands to reason someone who is a lifter would have some trouble making my gauge simply because the height of their stitches don’t correlate to mine.
I decided to run an experiment:
I made a 5 round solid granny in my standard stitch height.
Then made another, same yarn and hook, deliberately adding a lift to my golden loop.
The result, unsurprisingly, was that the lifted square is larger, only 1cm but noticeably so and once you times that over a whole project the difference would become more pronounced
I noted both squares sat lovely and flat but obviously if I was trying to make gauge then this lifted square would be considered a fail.
So I took the step expected and went down to a hook .5 smaller, again lifting my golden loop, this square was still larger than my standard swatch but was not as happy sitting flat. Determined to ‘make gauge’ I then continued going down hook sizes going from a 4mm to a 2.25mm hook, again lifting the golden loop each time. This time with the 2.25mm the square matched mine for size but definitely wasn’t a happy camper it was a very stiff fabric and did not want to sit flat, nor was it very comfortable working double crochets on a DK weight yarn with such a small hook. This would definitely be an issue with patterns that have a strong emphasis on a drapey finished fabric.
So what is happening here?
With the first two squares that laid flat the height of the stitches was what made the second square larger and that can’t be fixed with hook size, so by moving down to smaller hook size all that happens is you start squishing all those stitches into a smaller space and then they won’t sit nicely.
This was a bit of a light bulb moment for me and I am sad to say I don’t think there is a easy fix for this problem.
You could adjust your golden loop for each project but this has a couple of problems.
1. You don’t know what style the designer is, so you may have to play with all 3 styles to get a match.
2. Switching to a different golden loop style isn’t that easy. When I was doing the lift samples I had to concentrate really hard not to default back to my natural yanker style. So not only are you following a new pattern, counting your stitches, you also need to stop and adjust your stitch height after each and every stitch. If you can adjust with no issues, great! Go for it! But if you are like me and find it uncomfortable and unenjoyable then what option do you have?
I think the best solution is to just be aware of the issue and for my patterns worked in the round understand that crocheters that don’t make my gauge may have a natural lift or rider style, I can’t believe I am going to say this but I am going to encourage you to ignore my gauge and aim for a fabric feel and stitch definition you are happy with. Keep in mind you will find your project is larger than my sample and because of this, may sit differently and you will most likely require more yarn than suggested in the pattern to complete the entire project. This will be especially true for a pattern with a set round count.
Like wise, for yankers and riders who are using a pattern from a designer who lifts, your project would be smaller and use less yarn.
In patterns worked in rows this issue will be a bit easier to accommodate. Generally row projects give you both the horizontal and vertical gauge information and once you match the horizontal gauge with the right hook you can simply work more or less rows than the pattern calls for to compensate for the difference in stitch height.
Going forward I am going to be sure to include testers representing all three styles and if I design something that isn’t working well across all 3 styles I will mention it in my pattern listings allowing crafters to decide if the pattern will be suitable for them.
I hope you have found this interesting, who knows maybe you can go back and tackle a pattern that you cast aside as not working with the new knowledge that perhaps it is just a golden loop difference.