There is a certain satisfaction in making your own clothing, or clothing for your loved ones. Although it is rarely cheaper than buying it anymore, finishing your own creation is a fun accomplishment and - especially because crocheting is so forgiving - you can get the exact fit, color, and style your heart desires.
Before microfleece and nylon, wool sweaters were the traditional garb of fisherfolks and outdoor people around the world. Wool is a flexible, versatile and breathable natural insulator that performs well in cold, heat, rain, snow, sleet, wind, and sun. It's also extremely durable, easy-to-care-for, ultra-quiet, and relatively fire-resistant.
The fiber and fisher friends at Cordova's Net Loft have launched an interesting campaign to reintroduce "fishermen sweaters" into the current commercial fishing industry and outdoor community. Their extensive blog details the rich history of these ganseys, or hand-knitted woolen pullovers worn originally by those fishing for herring off the coasts of Britain, particularly in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The recently-launched Cordova Gansey Project aims to once again interlace fiber arts and fishing, and to be a vehicle for stories of past and present that communicate and honor the lives and lifestyle behind the fishing industry and fishing communities of our great state and beyond.
If you can do a single crochet stitch, you can make this simple, warm, and versatile wool-blend hoodie, and even participate in the Gansey Project if you choose! Use a sweatshirt that fits you (or your loved one) well to measure your hoodie against as you make it. If you are just starting, you may want to make a baby or kid sweatshirt because it allows you to play around with the pattern without committing to a huge project.
You will also need a 5-6 mm (H, I, J) crochet hook and 1,700 to 2,200 yards of a medium gauge yarn for an adult size sweatshirt. My husband is pretty tall and I used almost 2,200 yards making an XL version of this hoodie. I always aim to have a little extra - you can always use it for hats down the road, or in this case I am making matching sweaters for our sons from the remaining yarn.
Start by crocheting a chain as long as your sweatshirt across. You will want to stretch it slightly with both hands. It will expand as you add rows, so error on the side of a few stitches too short. Continue to crochet rows back and forth until you have a rectangle about 1.5-2 inches shorter than your sweatshirt (because you will add the trim at the end).
Crocheting the second rectangular piece on the way back from Anchorage.
We crocheters love it when we don't have to drive, don't we?!
At the collar, you can crochet it straight across or you can create a gently sloping collar like the one in the photo below.
To do this, stop 4-5 rows from the top of your piece. Crochet to the middle, turn your work around, and skip the first stitch.
Continue for 3 rows skipping a stitch each time you turn around, then do 1-3 more rows up to the shoulder line without skipping a stitch.
Complete the other side of the collar to match.
Next, crochet an identical rectangular piece for the back of the hoodie except this side should have no collar. Place these two rectangles together with the "good sides" facing each other (so you can turn it inside-out and the seam will be on the inside), and stitch the pieces together up the sides and across the shoulders. Be sure to leave gaps for the sleeves and the neck/hood.
Seaming the two rectangular pieces together across the shoulders.
Next, crochet the sleeves by turning the work on its side and stitching around the circle again and again.
After the elbow, reduce the side of the sleeve by skipping stitches about every 6-8 stitches. Stop when your sleeve is about 1.5 inches shorter than you want it so that you have enough room to add the trim.
Then, complete the other side the same way.
Crocheting sleeves out at bear camp. My husband is not a huge fan of crocheting while hunting, but I am :)
To crochet the hood, start in the middle of the collar and crochet around to the other side.
Turn your work and crochet back to the other side. Repeat until you have a curved rectangle the size that you want the hood.
Then, flip it inside out and stitch the tip sides together.
Finally, crochet one or two rows single crochet around the whole hood/collar to give it a smooth trim.
After completing the hood, you can crochet an optional pocket and top-stitch it on.
Now, it is time to crochet the rib stitch trim around the base and the sleeves. If you don't know this stitch already, it is so simple and so cute - and looks almost knitted!! You can also use it on hats or any other projects you want.