Monday, 30 December 2013

Fashioning the Fab Four (Part 12): While My Guitar Gently …

… Warps?

The Fab Four guitars are so cute, right down to their little strings!

Obviously strings are very important on a guitar. These particular strings (right) had a major influence on the finished product.

I particularly like a guitar's ability to bend the pitch of a note easily by flexing the strings.

MonicaRodriguez Fuertes’ pattern suggests the strings be embroidered onto the neck of the guitar. 

Crochet Today’s photograph (below) shows strings made of yarn laid across the length of the guitar neck and attached at each end. The yarn looks a little loose and also a little thick for the size of the guitar neck. Would they be suitable for strumming?

Crochet Today's photograph shows
guitar strings made of white yarn.

In my quest for a closer resemblance to full-size guitars, I wanted my strings to be finer but also with some “twang”–some elasticity so they can be strummed and flexed and still snap back to shape like real guitar strings.

My solution was to use shirring elastic instead.  Perfect!  It is finer than the yarn so I can fit up to six strings on the guitars, and it certainly snaps back.

Crochet Today magazine had only one guitar in the pattern–Electric Bass Guitar–which only has four strings but I wanted a lead and rhythm guitar too (they have six strings).

The beautiful thing about crafting is the ability to modify and customise the project to meet specific needs.

Just like the drumkit (in Crash Course etc.) I used extra crafting materials besides yarn:
  • Plastic to strengthen/support the necks
  • Shirring elastic for the strings instead of yarn
  • Beads as tuning pegs (the pattern suggested embroidered French knots)
  • Beads or small buttons to represent volume and effects knobs (although these could be embroidered instead)

The pattern instructed, “Sew or glue 2 tiny yellow buttons in center (sic) of rectangle for ‘volume knobs’” yet the notions list did not include these items; another important reason for reading a pattern right through before starting the project.

Remember to check the quoted dimensions and measurements too!

Just like the drums, I enthusiastically started on the guitars only to realise they were not to scale with the dolls (because I used different sized yarn and hook). My notes say:

“2/9/12: Frogged instruments because they didn’t work up to same scale as pattern. Mathematics required!

I quickly pulled them apart to start again except the second time, I applied the mathematics used for the drums to the guitars also. The process is summarised in Fashioning the Fab Four (Part 10): We Can Work It Out.

In “We Can Work It Out”, calculations showed my row and stitch tensions to be approximately 76-78% of the original gauge.

In Fashioning the Fab Four (Part 6): Production Time, I compared the dimensions of the dolls in the original pattern with my smaller versions.  My dolls were 69-70% smaller in DK than the pattern originals. The table is reproduced below with an extra column:
Size comparison: DK + 3.5 mm hook

Aran + 4 mm hook
Original pattern dimensions
(4 mm hook +

12 ply/Aran yarn)
(3.5 mm hook +

8 ply/DK yarn)

Size of DK + 3.5 mm hook version compared with Aran + 4 mm hook


Height of each doll

29 cm / 11.5 inches

20 cm / 8 inches
Jacket dimensions
20 x 10 cm / 8 x 4 in
15 x 7.5 cm / 6 x 3 in

I decided that the guitars would have a finished size of approximately 70% of those in the original pattern.

The tension of the original pattern was :

14 sc & 12 rows = 10cm (4 inches).

From this we can calculate the size of stitches and rows and also the number of rows and stitches per cm/inch:

Original Pattern Tension
Stitch tension
14 sc per 10 cm
14 sc per 4 inches
Stitch size
10 cm ÷ 14 sc = 0.7142 cm
1 sc stitch = 0.71 cm
4” ÷ 14 sc = 0.2857 inches
1 sc stitch = 0.29 inches
Stitches (sc)

per cm/per inch
(stitch size value is most accurate)
14 sc ÷ 10 cm = 1.4 sts/cm
1 cm ÷ 0.71 cm = 1.41 sts/cm
rounds down to 1.4 sts/cm
14 sc ÷ 4” = 3.5 sts/inch
1” ÷ 0.29” = 3.4482 sts/inch
rounds up to 3.5 sts/inch
Row tension
12 rows per 10 cm
12 rows per 4 inches
Row size
10 cm ÷ 12 rows = 0.83333 cm
1 row = 0.833 cm
4” ÷ 12 rows = 0.3333 inches
1 row = 0.33 inches (⅓ inches)
Rows per cm/per inch
12 rows ÷ 10 cm = 1.2 rows/cm
1 cm ÷ 0.833 cm = 1.2 rows/cm
12 rows ÷ 4” = 3 rows/inch
1” ÷ 0.33” = 3.03 rows/inch
rounds down to 3 rows/inch

The important numbers have been emphasised in bold. These are the numbers we will use to calculate the size of the finished items in the original pattern.

For the maths devotees, I have shown some alternative ways of working out the stitches/rows per cm/inch so you can see the difference in accuracy of results when the individual stitch/row sizes are used instead of the tension over 10cm/4”. 

For most projects this difference is negligible but keep in mind that the bigger the scale of the project, the greater the difference in accuracy depending on which method is used.
From these numbers I worked out the dimensions of the original guitars and then calculated the correct size of my guitars which will be 70% of the original.

Original Guitar Dimensions
Body Width
(rows 2 & 3 = 11 sc)

11 sc x 0.7142 cm = 7.8562 cm
rounds up to 7.9 cm wide
11 sc x 0.2857” = 3.1427 in.
rounds down to 3.1” wide
Body length (10 rows)
10 rows x 0.833cm = 8.3 cm long
10 rows x 0.333” = 3.3” long
Neck width (4 rows)
4 row x 0.833 cm = 3.332 cm
rounds down to 3.3 cm wide
4 rows x 0.333” = 1.332”
rounds down to 1.3” wide
Neck length (19 sc)
19 sc x 0.71 cm = 13.49  cm long
19 x 0.29” = 5.51” long
Guitar strap (45 ch)
45 sc x 0.71 cm = 31.95 cm long
45 sc x 0.29” = 13.05” long
Finding the right size for the smaller version (70% of original pattern size)
Guitar Sections
Original guitar sizes (cm/inches)
My guitar sizes (cm/inches)
(70% or multiply by 0.7)
Body width (11 sc)
7.9 cm / 3.1 inches wide
5.5 cm / 2.2 inches wide
Body length (10 rows)
8.3 cm / 3.3 inches long
5.8 cm / 2.3 inches long
Neck width (4 rows)
3.3 cm / 1.3 inches wide
2.3 cm / 0.9 inches wide
Neck length (19 sc)
13.49 cm / 5.51 inches long
9.4 cm / 3.9 inches long
Neck width (2 rows)†
1.66 cm / 0.66 inches wide†
1.16 cm / 0.46 inches wide†
Guitar strap (45 ch)
32 cm / 13 inches long
22.4 cm / 9.1 inches long

The dimensions of the guitar neck are particularly useful because I need to cut template plastic to the correct size and insert it into each neck for strength.

† I calculated the neck width to be the equivalent of the four rows in the pattern, but I had forgotten, until it came to making up the guitar, that the long piece of crochet will be folded lengthwise so the true width of each guitar neck will be equivalent to two rows (1.66 cm/ 0.66 inches).
Working to these dimensions, my guitar straps were 35 chains long instead of 45 chains. The electric bass has a narrower and longer neck than the other guitars so I made that template 11.5 cm long and 1 cm wide.
Working into the front loops only keeps the fabric flatter and thinner which makes it easier to fold around the template plastic which was the same used for the drums.
Soon I had three guitars in the correct proportions to the Fab Four Dolls and they were only awaiting finishing details such as strings, volume knobs and tuning pegs.
Guitar B
Guitar C

The notions cupboard had two different colours of shirring elastic: a choice of red or black.  I decided to continue the neutral colour scheme and chose black. 
Guitar A
I wrapped the shirring elastic lengthways around the guitar neck– over the crocheted front (fret board) and directly behind the template plastic–stretching the elastic just enough to take up any slack while threading it through the stitches at each end for guidance and to keep the wraps (guitar strings) evenly spaced.  The elastic was secured behind the template plastic before stitching up the crocheted back cover of the neck.
This method was used on all three guitars. My excitement of getting to this stage was expressed with  a photographic interlude. All of the guitars photographed at this stage of the project are bare of tuning pegs and knobs.
Now for some seed beads.  My dive into the household bead stash was fruitless–every colour there except the white that I wanted.  I held different coloured beads against the guitars but none were satisfactory. By this stage, it was important to me that the neutral colour scheme be maintained because it would have more impact against a coloured backdrop, especially a red, white and blue one like the magazine’s photograph, or any plain solid colour for that matter.
Fortunately, my friend and fellow crafter Adrienne* had a diverse collection of craft supplies. How convenient that she was a neighbour too!  I was very grateful that she was generous with her time and her seed beads when her evening was interrupted by my impromptu call for emergency beads!
Why is it we always need these things when the shops are shut?  Where do these supplies disappear to when we were sure they were in the stash only last week?
Luckily, Adrienne could spare the perfect white seed beads to finish the guitars. (Thank you, Adrienne!)
We celebrated with another photo shoot, matching each guitar to its musician. They looked great.  Can you guess the name of each doll?

Mystery Musician A

Mystery Musician B

Mystery Musician C

After all the photographic fun, the guitars were carefully stored away and the musicians were safely tucked in their beds (in the patchwork bag!) pending the next stage which literally was a stage for the band’s first public performance.

Weeks went by until I retrieved the Fab Four pieces and discovered a major problem:
This horrific sight was caused by multiple factors over time while in storage. 

The template plastic was too thin and weak to withstand the force of the shirring elastic.

Even though the shirring elastic was barely stretched at all, it still had enough potential energy to draw the ends of the guitar necks towards each other.  The crocheted stitches around the guitar necks offered no support or resistance as the pull of the elastic compressed the crochet too.
What am I to do with these warped wonders? 


*Adrienne is pictured in:
A link to Adrienne's crocheted tea towels blog entry can be found in Tea Towel Party:
View Adrienne’s blog at

Crochet Today magazine:

Monica Rodriguez Fuertes: links to her Etsy and Facebook pages can be found on my Fab Four Designer Profile at

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