Convertible Crochet: Zodiac Extra

In the course of crochet designing I create pieces of a certain class that never get published.  They are prototypes and practice runs, or in blunt terms, they are rejects. Some of these are never finished as full samples and acquire UFO status, see Rule #20. A few are alternate versions of published designs that for whatever reasons are not included with the pattern. And a few are personal garments that (assuming I can squeeze into them!) I wear at events where showing off your crochet is de rigueur. VKL NY January 2012 signing

For the book Convertible Crochet I did a lot of extra crocheting just to figure out for myself how the constructions would work under varying circumstances. Like not getting gauge.  Like the neckline being too huge. Like the garment proportions not being human.  Like running out of yarn. The worst of the experiments became UFOs that you really don’t want to see or know about; make that I don’t want you to see or know about them.

But a few of the more attractive alternate versions can be enlightening for readers of Convertible Crochet and it’s these saved samples that I’d like to share with you as book extras.  Let’s look at  Zodiac as published:



In the book, Zodiac is a relaxed fit tunic with octagons added for sleeves, crocheted in DK weight superwash wool, Filatura Di Crosa Zara.  Before this yarn was ordered, I began tinkering with an early prototype in a stash yarn, Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk.  Not only did this heavenly yarn NOT work to the target gauge, but there wasn’t enough on hand for the sleeves! Owing to the more delicate nature of this yarn, I knew I really shouldn’t rip out the completed body, so this stash remained tied up in a doomed prototype until much later, well after the book was written. Cobbling together any little scrap balls left from the main construction, I created bindings for the armholes in lieu of sleeves and I got a lovely long vest that I previewed in New York at Vogue Knitting Live, January 2012 (a year and a half before the book was published).

Zodiac Sleeveless

This version is crocheted as written for Zodiac, with just a few alterations. Knowing what happened here can help you deal with your own results.

The first issue is the gauge for this yarn. It is a touch finer and silkier than the design yarn, not as wooly, plump and rounded. So the motifs are just a fraction of an inch smaller than stated gauge. There is still plenty of room inside for a vest at this size, but it is slightly shorter in the body.

The major issue is that I ran out of yarn. With the four 50 g hanks on hand (about 580 yards) there wasn’t enough for two more big octagons for sleeves.  Here is the book sample laid out flat:

Zodiac flat

Because the tunic is designed to have a dolman sleeve shape, omitting the sleeve octs leaves huge droopy armholes.  I opted to finish the motif edges of the armhole with a binding using Foundation Single Crochet for the foundation, combined with a controlled type connecting round of chain spaces. To match at the neckline, I also worked the binding around the neck edge with Fsc (instead of the Fdc as written).

Zodiac Sleeveless flat

And here’s a tip that addresses one annoying problem with this design.  Zodiac lower sleeve is defined by the connecting of two octagon motif sides; the finished edge at the point of the sleeve is equal to the sum of two motif sides (10″) but the circumference at the connection is somewhat less (more like 8″).  Working gauges smaller than written will suddenly and inevitably result in non-human sleeve circumference.  If you find yourself in this situation where the sleeve bottoms are too tight for comfort, omitting the sleeves and binding the armholes as I did for this prototype is a brilliant way to rescue your project and have something wearable. Rule #3! VKL NY January 2012 at Knitty City BoothVKL NY January 2012 teaching

Convertible Crochet Winner

From the intrepid crochet fans who have already sunken their hooks into the Convertible Crochet toy box, I am hearing that the most intriguing design for many is Andromeda, in particular the Andromeda Peplum Vest.  Full marks to my Potter Craft editors for choosing that duo of Andromeda samples for the book cover. Did they know this project would be attractive to crocheters so they put it on the cover, or is Andromeda compelling to crocheters because it is on the cover? Chicken or egg?

Andromeda Peplum Vest

Andromeda Peplum Vest

This tealy blue version is a prototype crocheted in Spud & Chloe Fine, #7805  Anemone, a fingering weight blend of wool and silk, and will be the sample for modeling at TNNA Columbus during my book signing. Invariably my fans want to know how long it takes me to make one of these. The ballpark average yardage required in sock/fingering weight yarn is 900 yards, and a crocheter can comfortably work, what, at least 50 yards an hour. So I’m going to say 18 hours; it could take you a week of on again, off again hooking.

But let’s say you’re not ready to dive into complex motif construction, or you only have one nice hank of sock weight yarn (around 230 yards) on hand and you really want to get going with something. For a smaller commitment in time and yarn, and a less strenuous introduction to the Convertible Crochet ‘verse, may I suggest Corsair.

Corsair Collar

Corsair Collar

This pretty little collar is made with one hank of Spud & Chloe Fine and contains a couple of the keys to the ‘verse, featuring the gently expanding Corsair stitch pattern and the header-string-button triumvirate that creates the convertible magic. With just a few more yards of sport weight silk, I did this alternate version which has a more fluid drape and a gorgeous sheen.

Bruna Corsair silk 1

May I introduce Bruna, my newly found muse and DJC Designs signature model.  Her exotic face and curvy figure will be gracing the pages of my self-published designs to come.  She’s a twenty-something student, originally from Brazil, and she’s rapidly picking up this whole posing in crochet thing (not as easy a job as you might think). Here’s Bruna in the rib-tickler, teeny fit alternate sample of Callisto.Bruna Callisto 1

No, I haven’t forgotten the primary reason for this post!  The winner of a copy of Convertible Crochet is Grace Gardiner.  Congratulations to Grace, and thanks to everyone for participating in the drawing.  May fortune guide your journey!

Convertible Crochet Giveaway

No need for me to un-bury the lead because it’s all in the title.  Today begins the sign-up for a prize drawing, the prize being a free hardcopy of my new book, Convertible Crochet: Customizable Designs for Stylish Garments.  You may certainly skip all the doo-dah that follows here, and go straight to the comments, add yours to the list, go back to whatever you were doing and wait for the drawing on Friday.  I wouldn’t blame you.  But for the intrepid crocheters among you, please read on!


In one word, this book is about multitasking.  It is an investigation and a celebration of designs, motifs and constructions that may be re-configured, assembled and/or styled in myriad ways. It is a big toy box filled with shiny playthings with which you are encouraged to build and experiment (like Legos but not exactly because first you have to crochet the Legos, know what I’m saying?). Once you start looking at crochet in this new light, then you can get on with the real fun, which is messing around with what you have learned.

Mostly this book is about my obsessive/compulsive approach to making and assembling outside-the-box motifs. Motifs are not new; crochet design history is overflowing with ideas for squares, hexagons, triangles, octagons and circles.  But who else thinks up garments using pentagons? It can get complicated, though.  It is my hope that the weird constructions will appeal to your inner geek, rather than cause you to run screaming.

Even if my pet pents are not your idea of fun, there are other useful bits to absorb and apply to your own crochet.  It would please me greatly if you took away at least these three things from Convertible Crochet:

  • Ending a round of crochet so that your hook is left in the best position to begin the next round.
  • Finding the point singularity when joining a motif to a place where there is already a join.
  • Looking at every edge as a design opportunity; utilizing the spaces and loops of your crochet and using ribbing, strings, button studs and headers to create your own multitasking miracle.

If you ever have questions or comments about the book, or need pattern support for the designs, please do not post them here on this blog.  We have a group and a forum at dedicated to my work, Doris Chan Crochet.  If  you are not already signed up at Ravelry, go do it because it is the premier on-line source, playground, and social gathering place for fiber enthusiasts. My Rav username is dorisjchan;  I am making myself available in the group chat room this week for two live sessions, Wednesday 29 May at 10pm Eastern time, and Saturday 1 June at 1 pm Eastern time, if you’d care to pile in.  Otherwise, you can post your questions or comments on the forum and the posse (led by my group moderator, Rav username Amerz) will be along to help.

So, if after reading this stuff about the book you still want a free copy, now’s the time to enter your reply to this post.  You may have to click the little bubble at the top of the post… or maybe click “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of the post, in order to get to the part where you can leave a comment.  I will announce the winner at noon Eastern time on Friday, 31 May.  If you are outside the US and Canada, and if you win, you will have to provide me with a North American address, please.  And, as always, sucking up to me, no matter how enthusiastically or heartfelt, will not improve your chance of winning! 🙂

Good luck to all.  I’ll be back on Friday with a winner.

Convertible Crochet: Feeding Your Geek

Convertible Crochet: Customizable Designs for Stylish Garments, my new book,  is now rolling out.  There is a sneak peek inside the book here.

Yes, it is indeed beautiful.  And totally geeky. I was hoping to do one WHOO-HOO major launch, but instead I find that I am slowly leaking information and images.


For a more comprehensive, but by no means exhaustive look at all the designs, here’s a gallery of my own personal photography of most of the crocheted samples from Convertible Crochet.  Some of the pieces are prototypes, samples done in alternate yarns, which won’t be the same as the ones in the book.  I’m also showing you a few extras, views of different stylings from the front and the back, and also shots of the projects laid flat for blocking, which you may find useful.

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Check back here in the coming days for the next launch installment, where I discuss my geeky crochet perspective and give away a copy of the book!