Month: November 2014

How to determine yarn amounts for an item

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I did a blog post on “How do I calculate costing on my crochet items?”, as so many ask me that question.

The other most frequent question I get asked:

“How much yarn will I need for making X,Y,Z?”

And my answer always, just to make the ladies frown is:

“I have noo idea!”

 

And really, I don’t know!

There are so many things that influence the amount of yarn you will use for an item.

The fibre content, the yarn twist, your tension, and the pattern you use, all this influence the amount of yarn you will need to make your item.

Colours of Grace

How does it all influence the yarn amounts then?

  1. Fibre?

Some fibres are heavier than others.

For example, you will use way more cotton or bamboo than merino wool when making the exact same pattern, as cotton and bamboo are your heaviest fibers.

  1. The twist?

Higher twist yarns are shorter than lower twist yarns of the same weight.

Example; Locally we have the Elle Premier Cotton brand, which have a high twist and comparing to our local Vinnis Collours Nikkim Cotton, which have a low twist, you will use MORE Elle Premier Cotton than Vinnis Colours Nikkim when making the exact same pattern.  When you read the yarn labels, you will also see that the Elle Premier Cotton is shorter that the Vinnis Colour Nikkim on 50g balls, to confirm this theory.

  1. Tension?

Firm tension will use less yarn than loose tension.

  1. The Pattern?

Different stitch patterns will use different amounts of yarn.

Example; Solid stitch patterns, firm textured patterns like popcorn stitches, puff stitch, bullion knot, cables, even the granny square, etc, will use more yarn that a lacy pattern or patterns with larger spaces between cluster stitches.  Your way of joining an item, will add to the amount of yarn used.

These are only the basic factors that will influence the amount of yarn used for a specific item.

Can you see how difficult it actually is to thumb suck yarn amounts for projects?

To estimate can put you way of track.  How can you purchase your yarn if I will tell you that you MIGHT need somewhere between 8 and 12 50g balls of yarn to crochet that baby blanket for your niece…(not knowing the EXACT VARIABLES in the pattern, your tension, etc that will influence the yarn amounts).  When you work in a solid colour, you have to consider the lot number, as you will have to buy ALL the yarn at once, to make sure you get the CORRECT amount of yarn for from the same batch.  Especially when you want to use the hand dyed yarns!

Let me give you some guidance in determining your yarn amount, BEFORE you purchase your yarn for your project(s).

What I need:

  1. A digital scale. (Seems like this becomes one of the important crochet tools?)
  2. Measuring tape
  3. Note book
  4. Pencil

Calculate Yarn Needs

I’m very sorry to say, that you will have to do the ONE thing all crocheters hate to do!!

  1. Crochet a gauge swatch from the pattern you are going to use!!!

Yes, I know!!  I hate it too!! But if you want to be accurate, you HAVE to do it!!

This swatch will help you to get yourself familiar with your pattern, see where you are having trouble with the pattern, if it is a block blanket you want to make it will give you a better decision on your method of joining as this should be determined BEFORE you start your blanket!

  1. Determine the finish measurements of your item.

If it is a blanket you want to make, decide before hand how big you want this blanket to be.  Length x Width

For garment pieces, the safest will be to draft the panels of the garment piece with its finished measurements.  You can do a square with the finished length and the bust or hip circumference so you can have the surface in Length x Width.

  1. Measure your swatch.

Length x Width

  1. Determine how many of the swatch blocks will cover the surface of your item.
  2. Weight your swatch block.
  3. Determine the weight of your final product by

The amount of swatch blocks that will cover the surface of the item MULTIPLIED BY the weight of the swatch block.

The answer will be the amount of yarn in weight that you will need to buy to finish your item.

Example:

  1. I want to make a granny square blanket for my double bed, so I will crochet a granny square in the size I want it.
  2. The double bed is 190cm(width) x 150cm(length) if I measure the mattress. Adding 20cm over hang on sides and the feet end.

(190cm + 20cm) x (150cm + 20cm + 20cm) = 210cm x 190cm

  1. Swatch measures 15cm x 15cm (using the yarn of my choice, having my average tension, not caring much about the twist of the yarn)
  2. Now I have to calculate, how many 15cm x15cm squares will fill up the surface of 210cm x 190cm.

 

Making it simple:

The length will be 210cm/15cm = 14 blocks to make up the length of the blanket.

The width will be 190cm/15cm = 12 block but 10cm short to 190cm.  12 block will give me a width of only 180cm.  Now I can decide it I am happy with a 180cm wide blanket, or would I like to add 15cm to make it 195cm rather?  Well, the latter is closest to my original measurement, so I would add another 15cm block to give me a 195cm wide blanket.  So I will use 13 blocks to make up the width of the blanket.

13 blocks for width x 14 blocks for length = 182 blocks that I will need to cover the surface of a 195cm x 210cm blanket.

  1. The 15cm x 15cm swatch block weighs 20g.
  2. 20g x 182 blocks = 3640g of yarn.

To determine the amount of 50g balls for instant: 3640g/50g = 72.8 50g balls (rounded off to 73 balls)

 

You will see that I did not make provision for the amount of yarn I will use to join the squares.

Granny JoinWhip Stitch

This is a separate calculation when you determined your method of joining.  Remember, some joining techniques will add to the measurements of your blanket, like the granny join, the flat braid, simulated braid or chain joining techniques.

The whipstitch, single crochet, slip stich crochet or crab stitch join, will keep the original finished measurements, as these are joining techniques that do not necessarily add to the measurements of your final item.

Calculating the amount of yarn using to join will expect very similar method of calculation.

Very simplified: Weigh about 4 of your blocks, join them in the method you chose, weigh them again and the difference between the two readings will be the amount of yarn you used to join 4 squares.

I’m sure you will be able to calculate the rest J

 

I hope this guideline will help you to make more accurate calculations of yarn needs, so you don’t buy too much or too less yarn for your products in the future.

This will also help you on budgeting for that special blanket you wanted to make for a very long time now.  When you know approximate how many grams of yarn you will need, you can determine how much it will cost.

Happy Hooking!

Love

B

xx

 

 

The Liebster Award!

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Huh?

That was my question too when I saw one of my fellow crochet/blogging/yarn shop friends, Hilda Steyn, nominated me for the Liebster Award.

So I was off to her blog, reading all about it, but still I sat with the questions…

What is the Liebster Award, where does it come from, why is there such an award and how does it exactly work?

Well, I came across these same questions asked all over the internet when I googled “Liebster Award”.  But if you are as curious as I am about everything new; the why’s, the how’s, the what’s, then I can suggest more about it here: Liebster Award.

Liebster Award

Thanks to Hilda Steyn from Yarn in a Barn, for nominating me for this award!

Hilda is one of my bestest hooky friends.  She has a yarn shop in Hartebeestpoortdam and just like me, prefer to work only with natural fiber yarns.  She is an awesome woman and we share so many passions and I think that is why she is so dear to me.  Thanks again Hilda!

Liebster Award 2

The Questions and the Anwers:

1. What is the name of your favourite yarn and why is it your favourite?

Vinnis Colours!!!  Ever since I start working with this yarn, I just couldn’t get enough of it!  The feel, the look, the colours, the smell!!!  It is a 100%, low twist, hand dyed cotton.  You can make almost anything with it and I do “almost” all of my designs in this yarn.

2. What is your favourite type of project (clothing, rugs, afghans, etc)?

Shoes!  It was one of the first items I made for my girls (Mary Jane Shoes) and ever since I got hooked on making shoes.

3. Is your yarn stash well organised or all over the place?

Both!  I consider my little yarn shop in our porch as part of my yarn stash.  When I stand in front of the shelves and have to straighten each ball, turning the label the correct way and place the front ball at the front edge of the shelve.  And when a customer came in and all are messed up again, it will bother me until I correct it the why I like it. Why?  Because of the colours of the yarn.  I love looking at the rainbow of colours in my home!  But then I have a loft as well, with yarn…..all over the place!!!

4. Is there enough yarn in your stash to make an entire blanket from?

I think I will make enough blankets for a whole army!

5. What is your favourite crochet hook brand and why?

Well, this week it is a question that Hilda asks a lot, so I’m not surprised that she is asking it here as well.  She is planning to get the Rolls Royce of hooks for us local hooky addicts.  Up to know I worked only with soft grip hooks and prefer the rounded handles instead of the flat ones, but I’m sure it is going to change soon…..

6. What is your happy colour?

Colour is my happy colour!  I love colours!  Especially looking at nature where I get most of my colour inspiration from.  But if I have to make an exception, I would say aqua.

7. How many WIPs do you have right now?

Mmm…all the new designs I’m busy with, together with the gifts the new baby on the way in the family, plus the WIP’s I’m busy with for my girls, plus….I would say around 18 🙂

8. Where is your favourite hooky place?

When I imagine myself sitting somewhere in nature, far away from the noise and rat race of the city, next to a cool river, my back leaning against an old tree, surrounded with greens, and freshness, and quietness, without a cellphone, laptop or people.  That’s my favorite hooky place….

9. What two words best describe you?

Innovative, Tenacious

10. What do you think will be remembered about you when you are gone?

My love for needle-crafts, definitely!  I was making doll clothes and could knit before I could write my name.

Liebster Award 3

My Nominations are:

Cornell Strydom

Anisa du Plessis

Elsbeth Eksteen

from Hellohart, because these are 3 awesome, talented ladies that do the most interesting interviews with other fiber artists and I was thinking this is a good way to interview them as well 😉

Heidi

from HeidiBears, as Heidi’s African Flower Animal designs just fascinates.  The talent of this lady is endless!

Magda de Lange

from Pigstails, for Magda’s is to me, like a “wise old soul”, though she is not that old :-D.  Her life experiences; especially her living in the Middle-East; reflects through her photography and crochet creations.

Bridget Henderson

from Cowgirlblues, as Bridget is a very talented Merino yarn dyer and few really know about her product.  I do stock her yarns and you can find some in the shop here on my website, but you have to look at her work on her blog.

Liebster Award 4

The Questions for my Nominees:

1.  Why did you start a blog and what do you mainly blog about?

2.  Did you realize that crochet is becoming the new black?  Why do you think it is becoming so popular?

3.  What is your biggest reason for crocheting/knitting?

4.  Do you prefer working from a pattern or do you make up your own pattern as you go? Why?

5.  Who is your favorite crochet/knitting designer.  Why?

6.  What is your favorite fiber to work with?  Why?

7.  Which is your favorite yarn brand and why?

8.  I short, give an overview of your craft journey since it started.

9.  I assume you have a few WIP’s.  Who doesn’t?  So what inspired your current WIP’s?  Yes, name all of them!

10.  Where is the most unexpected place you ever crochet/knitted?

11.  Which project/design/pattern was your biggest challenge up to now and why?

Liebster Award 5

I hope that all my nominees will participate, as this was actually so much fun to me.  I think that this is a brilliant idea!

Love!

B

xxx

How do I calculate costing for my crochet items?

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This is the most frequent and most difficult question asked by crafters, especially crocheters.

During my crochet classes, facebook or email messages, this is a question I get asked very often.

I’m a dress designer and -maker for 20 years and I still struggle with that one myself.

The business and financial gurus got all their own formulas that they are working on, but none of them are really working practically for crocheters or even knitters.

Hand crafts are time consuming and different crafts have different time frames within the craft for each item produced.

For example, as a crocheter, I crochet a beanie and an ear-flap hat, both are hats, but they take a different amount of material AND time.

Material costing is the easy part, but the labour costing; now there is the sticky part!

Especially for us crocheters!!!

How do I calculate my labour, as I don’t work on an item from start to finish in one go without interruptions?  Won’t it help me to do more accurate calculations if I could work continuously on an item?

Yes sure, but who got the time to work for 5 days non-stop, without sleeping, eating, drinking and…the other necessary stuff, until the granny square super king size blanket is finish???

No one!!!

So how the heck can I determine how many hours I spent making such a blanket?

Well, the formula going around is:

The cost of the blanket (that is: amount of yarn, the ribbon for embellishing, etc) times 2 or times 3.

Ah, that’s so easy!!  Problem solved!!

No, certainly not for me!!

I realized that I will make more money if I work using really expensive yarn, making the same blanket that will take me the same amount of time.  So there!  My first problem!!

If I use R100 worth of yarn and I times it by 3, then my labour and profit will be R200?

But, if I use R200 worth of yarn and I times it by 3, my labour and profit will be R400!!

See the problem?

Now I tried for years finding a formula that is more applicable to calculate my labour (which of course is my salary).

If I work for a company, they decide that I will cost them X amount every month and that is what I will earn per month.

So as a crafter or crocheter, I also want to earn a salary from the items I make.

Costing Crochet Items

Let’s ask a few questions…

(NOTE: THE AMOUNTS I USE IN THE FORMULA IS JUST TO SHOW AS EXAMPLE.  I TRIED TO SIMPLIFY IT)

 Question 1:

How much do I want to earn per month?

(I’m working these numbers only on actual time worked)

Example:

R9600 per month will be my salary

Now break it down to an hourly rate:

Per week it is: R9600/4 = R2400pw (assuming a month consists of 4 weeks)

Per day it is: R2400/5 = R480pd (assuming you work 5 days a week)

Per hour it is: R480/8 = R60ph (assuming you work 8 hours a day)

 Question 2:

How will I work out my labour for the item I make?

Now here comes the tricky part.

My method is a little more intense, but it is more accurate than the “cost x2 or x3” method.

The only thing that might influence accuracy in my method is the fibre I use, which is comparable to the error made due to the price of different yarns in the case of the “cost times X”  method.  Some fibres are heavier than others that might influence your calculations, but the difference is not as significant as the above mentioned formula.  See how I compensate for this difference at the end!

To do this calculation, you will need a few things:

  1. You will need a digital scale.
  2. You will need a stopwatch; or an extra eye watching the time.
  3. You will need some uninterrupted time (I will work on 10min intervals at a time) for the construction period of your crochet item. (I’m a mom of twins, I know uninterrupted time is a luxury, but you do get some if you really think creatively.)
  4.  You will need a note book and pencil to note your data.
  5.  You will need some mathematical skill – just for the bonus:-D (we all know it is mathematical geniuses that crochet…2dc, dc1,…mmmm.. that is 3 in total, I have to repeat, that will give me 6….)

The great thing about this method is that you can do it any time, not necessary to do it consistently during the construction period or your item, but whenever you have some time to focus, for the rest you can continue working on the item without data notation.

 A. COLLECT DATA

  1. Crochet until you are getting familiar with the pattern. (doing this when you do a pattern for the first time is definitely influencing your time, so get the hang of the pattern and then continue.)
  2. Weigh your item.
  3. Start timing your 10min and crochet as you would have without letting the time chasing you now 🙂
  4. After 10min, weight your item.
  5. Calculate the difference between the 1st value and the 2nd value.

Example:

Item weighed 10g before I start timing.

Item weighs 20g after timing.

Difference is 20g (last value) – 10g (1st value) = 10g worked for 10min.

Now I get interrupted, and tonight when I pick up my crochet work I’m too tired to time and just want to unwind with my hook and yarn.  Tomorrow I am ready for some timing again!!

Then you just repeat 1-5 of the example above.

BGET AN AVERAGE

When your item is done, you have lot of data that you collected during the construction period.  (Note: You can stop noting data at any time during the construction period.  You can note twice of thrice at the start and then again at the end to include hand sewing.  Especially when you have to quote a customer, you will do this to get just an estimate on your labour IF you have the correct amount of yarn.)

From all the weight differences calculated during the 10min periods, I will find an average as follows:

Example:

10g + 12g + 6g + 10g + 8g + 10g + 14g + 9g + 10g + 11g = 100 divide by the amount of differences which in this case is 10 times I noted my information.

Thus: Average per 10min = 10g

C. WORK OUT YOUR LABOUR ON THE ITEM

I want R60ph.

Thus R10 for each 10min interval I work.

Example:

The finish item weighs 500g.

500g/10g (as that is the average weight I worked every 10min) = 50 intervals

There are 50 X 10g intervals during the total construction period of the item.

Every 10g cost R10 as previously determined.

So 50 x R10 = R500 for the total period I spend making the item.

D. THE TOTAL COST

* Now you can determine the yarn.

Add the yarn cost to your labour = total price for finished item

 

And that is how I make my crochet experience even more exciting!!

Yes, there are some errors in this method!

You crochet faster than me, so I make more money that you!

Don’t dismay, I’ve got a solution for you.

The more experienced crocheter obviously will have to earn a bigger salary that the beginner, isn’t it?

That will make a beginner’s earnings per 10g less than the experienced crocheter, but the longer time period she works on the item, her earnings will level out comparing to what the more experienced crocheter will earn.

But what the heck, as crochet are so intertwinely (is that an English word?) related to mathematics, why not make it even more mathematical??!!!

I love maths and I looooove crochet even more!!!

So I hope this motivate you to reconsider the method you use for costing your items!

Your time is of high value, especially in today’s time and age.

Don’t under cost yourself; you are worth a lot more!!!

Happy crocheting!!

Love

B

xx

African Flowers & Buntings

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I looove the African Flower motif.  If I see anything done in the African Flower, it draws my attention immediately.

When the T-shirt yarn became a popular medium to crochet with last year; thanks to ladies like Anneke Wiese from Crochet in Paternoster with her beatiful doily patterned rugs from t-shirt yarn, Hilda Steyn from Yarn in a Barn that became the biggest t-shirt yarn supplier in South Africa, together with Selma & Anthea Seyfert from 50Something that was the actual trend setters; I had to play around with it as well.  And what was the first thing to come to mind…an African Flower rug.

So I played around and made a rug for my girl’s room.  I loved it and had to write a proper pattern for it, but never took the time to do it.  Recently I realized that it got time for this rug to see the light…and I took time to work on it and here it is.  My African Flower T-Rug.  The pattern is available on Ravelry and I will soon load it up here on the website as well.

African Flower T-Rug in T-shirt Yarn

 

While I was busy with this rug, I was thinking of my girl’s room.  I have a rug, I’m busy with their African Flower blanket (currently a WIP for the past year), so I need some more decor..in African Flowers!

The patterns I found was either a pentagon, hexagon or octagon…and I wanted hearts, stars, and someting different.

So again I start playing…

And here are my shapes:

A Heart, a Star and a Triangle!!

African Flower Shapes

 

The pattern is in the Ravelry store as well 🙂

And what jumped to mind first with these shapes?  Bunting!!!

I made a simple triangle flag and…

Bunting with traingles

 

combined it into a bunting with the African Flower shapes.

Bunting with African Flower Shapes

 

Here is how I made the Triangle Flags

Traingle Flag Pattern

Materials

Vinnis Colours Nikkim

3.5mm hook

Instructions

This pattern is worked from bottom up.

Row1: Ch2, 2sc in 2nd ch from hook, turn – 2sc

Row2: Ch1, 2sc in 1st st, sc in each remaining st to end of row, turn – 3sc

Row3-21: Repeat row 2. Each row will increase by 1 sc until your stitch count is – 20sc

Row22: Ch3, dc in next st, *ch1, sk 1, dc in next 2 st*, repeat from *to* across the row.

Row23-24: Repeat row 2 again until stitch count is – 22sc

Do not turn or fasten off.  Crochet an edging right around the triagle as follows:

Ch1, sl st into sc on side of triangle, (ch1, sl st) all around the traingle until you reach the start of the edging again.

Fasten off.

Sew away yarn tails

Make as many triangles as you like.  You can add them all throught the holes formed by the ch1, at the dc row.  Or put a ribbon through these holes and make up a bunting by sewing them onto a ribbon, or crochet them together with row of sc on the top edging and a few chains before you add the next flag.

Triangles Bunting

 

Hope you enjoy making some bunting for the baby’s room, girl’s or boy’s room or some decoration for a specific event or celebration!

Love

B

 

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