Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Perfect Shawl

This shawl is one of my most favorite things I’ve ever made.  Everything about it just worked, which, as you know, doesn’t always happen.  I had wonderful yarn, and plenty of it, and it was 70% off [!!!!!], the pattern was easy, and it looks just the way I hoped it would. 
Sometimes, these things can make me look a little granny-ish.  I am not one of those willowy types with long straight legs and hair who can wear a crocheted wrap with any kind of irony.  I am a little bit dumpy.  I can accept that.  But this shawl is so perfect, it makes me feel perfect, too.  Wearing it, I feel like it’s 1970, and I live in Laurel Canyon, and I am writing folk music and cooking lentils and living with Graham Nash. 
Inspiration for this came from here (scroll down) and the minute I saw that photo, I wanted my own elbow-length gray shawl, crocheted in chunky yarn.  She said hers was a shop purchase, so I started trolling Ravelry until I found this pattern, which gave me what I wanted—a triangular shape in an overall shell stitch that’s maybe not too hard.  When it came time to work the edging, I studied Vanessa’s photo again and improvised.  It was the edging and the fringe that I really loved about hers. 
Whoops, I see where I missed a fringe—okay, fixed now.  Here are my notes:  I worked the pattern exactly as written (although at a much larger gauge) in Ella Rae Latte, color 03 (which is a light pearl gray) on a US J hook, until the piece reached just above my elbow when I tried it on, ending with a row 10.  Then I worked a row of hdc (all my crochet terms are US) along the edge, eyeballing how many hdcs to put where so it laid flat and didn’t pull in or ruffle.  On the next row, I worked (ch 8, skip next 8 sts, sc) across.  For row 3:  10 dc in each ch 8 space, across.  Row 4:  (dc in the first 8 stitches, skip the next 2 sts) across.  [Skipping those two stitches in row four—which should happen directly on top of the sc from row 2—leaves a space in which to attach fringe.]  Deal with the center point intuitively, making sure there’s a sc in row 2 and a space for fringe in row 4 directly on the point.  I just shortened the ch 8s when I got there.  Make sure you do both sides the same. Then I cut 24” lengths of yarn for the fringe, and hooked three strands, folded in half, through each hole in row 4.  I worked a row of hdc across the top edge, again kind of eyeballing to see how many stitches I needed, so it laid flat and didn’t pull in or ruffle. 
Crochet instructions always look like chicken scratching to me.  I hope you know what I mean up there—you’re all way better at this than I am, and I know you’ll be fine.  Just hook what looks good! 
Two things:  first, the pattern has a few punctuation problems, which, if you’re like me and you rely on every parenthetical and comma to tell you what to do, you might have to crochet by the seat of your pants.  But I got there in the end (with no ripping back) and you will, too.  Second, it looks like there’s some controversy in yarnland, regarding the fiber content of the Latte, which is a softly spun single-ply chunky weight.  I am here to report that regardless of whether or not it actually contains 30% alpaca and 30% milk (which is what it says on the label) it is soft and lofty and has a beautiful sheen, and I’m not disappointed.  Then again, I got it for a huge bargain, so that might be keeping my expectations low.  We’ll see how it wears, but so far, I’m very happy.  If you’re looking for a sub, you could try Malabrigo
Now, if only it weren’t 90 degrees.