Hopefully you have chosen your yarn and supplies, have your pattern handy, and are ready to get started! I know I am. I chose one of my many favorite yarns, Suri Elegance by Alpaca Yarn Company because it comes in one of the prettiest reds I've ever seen: Blue Blood Red. It is a laceweight yarn and comes put up in 100gm skeins with 875 yards! Depending on the size you choose to make, you will either need one or two skeins of this yarn. If you have to dip into the second skein, you will have plenty left over to make a pretty lace scarf, too.
The first thing we EVER do when making a piece of clothing, rather than an unstructured project, is make a gauge swatch. This is SO IMPORTANT because if you are off on your gauge you will waste your time, energy, money and yarn making something that won't fit. For this project, you will be happy to know I measure the gauge by the first 3 rounds of the back. Want to know why? Because if you are right on with your gauge, you can USE your gauge to continue on making your sweater! But if it is off by 1/4" or more, you MUST adjust your hook size accordingly.
I measured my swatch twice. Why? Because once unblocked and then blocked. In my opinion, it is extremely important to block your gauge swatch, because we are making clothing that will be laundered! It will get wet and laundered eventually and you must know how the stitches will react with water. And, making lace means your stitches will stretch trememdously in water anyway. My swatch measured 3" wide unblocked and stretched to the correct gauge of 3-1/2" after blocking and pinning.
At first glance you would think my swatch is too small and that I need to go up in needle size, right? It only measures 3" when it should measure 3-1/2". But notice how in the next picture, after wetting, stretching and pinning, it measures 3-1/2"? This is my correct gauge. Make sure to keep your working loop stretched long so you don't unravel any of your stitches during this process. After your swatch dries, carefully unpin it and begin crocheting round 4, as long as your gauge is correct. Otherwise, drop down or move up in needle size depending on how you want your gauge to grow (go up in size if you are too small, and go down in size if you are too large).
The next couple of rounds will look funny because the first 3 rounds are blocked and the stitching rounds are not. Don't worry, in the end they will all be blocked beautifully. And remember, when considering measurements going forward in the project, make sure to take into account what each row will measure after blocking. Don't take dry measurements and assume they are correct.
Here are some addiitonal progress photos of working on the hexagon-shaped back. Notice how after a few rounds on the chart, there are only 2 repeats shown? There is a beginning repeat and the second repeat of the round is the one you will crochet 5 times (for a total of 6 repeats per round). Depending on the size you are making, notice how there are perimeter bold lines telling you when to stop? I made size medium, so I will crochet through round 18, then fasten off.
After you finish your back, block it again to make sure it reaches the correct width and length measurements. I use half a capful of Wrapture in a large bowl of lukewarm water, submerse the yarn and let it soak for a few minutes until the yarn absorbs the liquid. Press the fabric agains the side of the bowl to release excess moisture, then roll in a dry towl to absorb most of the excess. Lay flat and stretch to desirement measurements, pin in place and let dry.
Join me next week when we will crochet the right and left fronts and join them to the back!