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©2012 Sandra Petit, http://www.crochetcabana.com

Simply put a multiple means to multiply a number by another number which gives you the foundation chain you need to get your project to the size you want it to be. Guess that doesn’t sound simple but it really isn’t difficult.

Here are the details...

Sometimes a pattern will say: "chain an odd number of stitches". That means chain a number ending in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9.

 Sometimes a pattern will say "chain an even number of stitches". That means chain a number ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8.  (That could also be written as a multiple of 2.)

Sometimes though, as noted above, a pattern will say to chain a multiple of some number. What this means is that you take the number and then you multiply it by another number to give you the number of foundation chains needed.

Let’s use 3. If you multiply 3 times 30 you get 90. That might be enough chains for a baby afghan. If you multiply 3 times 100, you get 300. That would be a much larger afghan. In these cases, 90 and 300 are foundation chains, not stitches on your row. The number of stitches you end up with on your row depends on what stitch you are working with. If it’s a single crochet row, you’ll have one less than the number of chains. If it’s double crochet, you will two less etc.

Sometimes the pattern calls for a multiple "plus", for example chain a multiple of 3 + 1. So 3 x 30 = 90 + 1 = 91. 91 would be your foundation chain. 3 x 100 = 300 + 1 = 301. 301 would be your foundation chain.

Why would there be a "plus"? It might be to account for your beginning and ending chains. Your first stitch will go into the second chain from hook, or fourth chain from hook or some such. Also, sometimes a pattern has a repeat that is not completed at the end of the row, but is slightly changed. Sometimes it is just the number that is needed for the pattern to come out correctly.

Sometimes you will see a multiple of 3 + 1 + 1. That really means that the multiple is 3 + 2.  They are adding on the skip chain of the foundation chain separately from the multiple. I don’t know why this is done, but it is. Maybe I’ll learn more about it later. :-)

By giving the "multiple of", the pattern designer allows you to adjust the pattern to the size piece that you need, instead of only making the one size that the designer made. Of course, many patterns do not lend themselves to this method. Sometimes, for the pattern to come out as it looks in the picture, the designer must choose the foundation number for you.

Remember that the multiple does not give you the number of stitches on each row of your work. It gives you the number you need to chain in order to get those stitches. In the above example if your foundation chain is 90 and you are working a single crochet row, you will have 89 stitches on your row because you go into the second chain from hook. If you are working a dc row, you will have 88 stitches on your row because you go into the 4th chain from hook.

How does knowing this help you?

Knowing the multiple can help you adjust your pattern yourself. If the pattern is for a scarf that is 6" wide but you want it 12" wide, you can use a larger foundation chain. If you want a twin size afghan instead of a full size, you can also adjust. That doesn’t mean that the designer will know right off hand how much you need to chain to get the new size. The designer may only have worked with the one size. He or she can estimate, but not be positive of anything other than what she has prepared.

Another way to adjust pattern size, if you don’t know the multiple, is to adjust the hook size or to change the kind of yarn that you are using. For example, if you want a smaller piece and the pattern calls for a K hook, just use a G or anything smaller than a K, adjusted down to the size you want. If you want a larger piece, you can use a larger hook and 2 strands of yarn. Keep in mind that if you are using the same yarn that called for a K, you will get a tighter, more close knit piece, if you use a G.

Still another way is to adjust your yarn weight. If the pattern calls for 4-ply, worsted weight yarn and you want a smaller piece, then you can use sport weight or fingering weight yarn. If you want a larger piece, then you can use chunky weight or two strands of worsted (or even more). Remember to also adjust the hook that you are using.

Keep in mind that the same weight yarn in different brands may work up differently. Notice the gauge notation on the yarn label. Many will give you the number of stitches within a particular size piece. For example, one might say that using an H hook, a 4 x 4 square will give you 17 stitches across and 23 rows. Another brand might say using an H hook, a 4 x 4 square will you 18 stitches across and 24 rows. That tells you that the first yarn is thicker as it takes less stitches and rows in the same size space. This information is not standardized, so there’s no guarantee your yarn will be labeled in that particular way, but it will be labeled in some way. Many labels today have a pattern included on the inside of the label. This is one reason they give this information. It’s the gauge for your pattern.

Don’t forget to adjust how much yarn you BUY as well. If you’re making it larger, make sure you buy enough extra yarn in the same dye lot. If smaller, you won’t need as much.

However, since we are talking about multiple... what if your pattern doesn’t give the multiple, but you want to adjust your pattern using the same yarn and hook? For this you need to know the multiple of your pattern so you can adjust the foundation chain. If you have the multiple, you will always be able to adjust up or down. If the pattern doesn’t give it to you, then you can figure it out yourself with a little figuring. This is especially helpful for patterns that you just love and want to do over and over again but sometimes you want to make a baby item and sometimes a full size one.

Here’s how I figured the multiple using Ben’s Camouflage Ripple pattern as an example.

    The first pattern row determines your foundation chain. Let’s count the chains needed to work the first row: Ch 1, 2, 3, dc in 4th chain from hook (that’s 4) , dc in next 2 chains (that’s another 2 for a total of 6)

    Then comes your repeat: 3dc in next, 1 dc in ea of next 4 (that’s 5 sts), skip 2 chains, dc in each of next 4 sts (that’s another 6 for a total of 11)

    Then your ending: 3dc in next ch, dc in next 4 chains (that’s 5)

So you have 6 + 11 + 5. If you look closely you’ll see that 6 + 5 = 11, so you are essentially using a multiple of 11.

I usually use lines to picture this process in my mind. I picture it from right to left because that’s how you crochet the first row.


If your pattern is not too complicated, you might be able to figure out the multiple, using this method, for yourself.

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Crochet Cabana created October 1997 (domain name purchased March 2001)
Crochet Cabana’s Crafty Corral begun November 7, 2004.
The Crochet Cabana Blog begun May 2010.
Site update November 18, 2012.