Sunday, May 5, 2013

A New Shawl

I joined this group called Crochet Shoulder Wrappers over on back in February. They live and breathe shawls over there, and cowls, scarves, anything that essentially can wrap the shoulders without sleeves. I'd already made a couple shawls this year but nothing too exciting looking or that difficult but I wanted to get better and eventually be able to create nicer lacier shawls using more advanced patterns.

Every month they have crochet-a-longs (there are other groups for knitting, this one is pure crochet) usually one with a free pattern and a couple other with paid for patterns. I've been doing the free ones simply because I don't want to pay for something I'm not skilled enough to tackle, some of them look quite difficult to a mere advanced beginner. In these groups we post photos of our progress, ask questions, provide advice and support, it's really amazing how friendly and helpful everyone is. It's quite inspiring to see the shawls people create, everyone is different merely because of yarn and size of hook chosen.

This month's pattern I am doing is called Catkins and is an abstract depiction of the catkins (fuzzy end) of the pussy willow. I've chosen to use some variegated purple acrylic yarn called Crocus from the Premier Yarn Deborah Norville Serenity Garden line. It was suggested I make a few test swatches using different sized hooks because this yarn doesn't stretch as much as some and a larger hook might get a better "drape" (the way it falls/hangs). Excellent advice, I ended up testing 4 hooks, the H (5 mm), I(5.5 mm), K(6.5 mm) and the J(6 mm). Note I listed the J last, it was actually the order I tried them in, jumping fro I to K because it just didn't feel right. I took photos of my swatches and asked for advice. so right. I am finding this pattern much easier not to screw up than my last as yet unfinished shawl.
Clockwise from top left, H, K, I hook swatches
Here is the actual shawl 8 rows in. It feels great, looks great and is so easy!
8 rows of pattern using J hook
The designer, a gal using the handle "yarnpumpkin" even provided some very helpful tips even to the point of trying the same yarn with a J hook. We both seemed to come to the same conclusion quickly, the J hook was the way to go. K made the fabric too loose H and I too tight, but J was perfect. She even suggested dropping the cluster size from 5 DCs (double crochet, it's a type of stitch for the uninitiated) to 4 DCs because of the thickness of the yarn. She was so right! So this is what I am spending much of my time doing now when I'm not blogging, reading posts at ravelry or walking dogs.

My other shawl, the Small Talk languishes. I did manage to get half way through row 7 of the 8 on the edging, but just am not motivated to get it done. I had so many problems and screw ups that I ripped out enough rows to have made a second one. I don't think I'll have enough yarn for row 8 so I actually altered row 7 in case it's as far as I can get. For me, because of my height I think it will be too short, but I won't know till it's finished and blocked. Hopefully, that will happen this month. But probably not until after I get a few more rows done in my wonderful Catkins!

Small Talk around row 6 of the edging
(ETA: link)

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