Sunday, March 13, 2016

Guest Post - The Cloud Wrap – from Concept to Pattern by Laura Krzak

For the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of being one of several crochetdesigners for Cascade Yarns. I’ve had a good run with coming up designs that Cascade has chosen to add to their crochet pattern line, and in honor of National Crochet Month, they asked me to explain how I design a crochet pattern.

Some designers start with a concept. They will draw out what they want to make, choose the measurements, choose the stitch pattern to use, and then they pick up the yarn and hook. Other designers, like myself, start with the yarn and hook and work from there. Personally, as a designer, I look for a stitch pattern that will work with the yarn, and once I have a stitch pattern fixed, I start to brainstorm on what finished item to make.

The Cloud Wrap pattern all started with the yarn – El Cielo. I was originally given a sample of the yarn to make a crochet swatch for a completely different pattern idea, but I had enough yarn left that I decided to propose another idea as well. After some trial and error, I came upon a stitch pattern that worked well with the yarn.

The nature of the El Cielo yarn is that it is super lightweight, but the halo of the alpaca provides tons of warmth. Knowing these characteristics, I decided to propose a rectangle shawl. I figured out the dimensions and how much yarn it would take to make a full size shawl, and then sent the pattern proposal for the Cloud Wrap along with several others.

Shortly after Cascade Yarns received my proposals, they contacted me to let me know on which patterns they wanted to move forward. They decided to pass on the crochet design they had me re-stitch with the El Cielo yarn, but they like the swatch for the Cloud Wrap design. However, they wanted a modification. They had already accepted a rectangle shawl design with this yarn, so they wanted to know if I could use the same stitch pattern but in a different shawl shape. Being up for a challenge, I said yes.

I decided to create a triangle shaped shawl. That would mean modifying the pattern with either increases or decreases. In looking at the shape of the stitches themselves, they are wider at the top than at the base. That shape lends itself more easily to increases rather than decreases, which also helped determine how the shawl would be made. When increasing stitches, a triangle shawl will be shaped one of two ways – bottom up or top down.

I also looked at how the stitch repeat itself was made to determine which direction I wanted the tops of the stitches to face. In reviewing all of the information about the stitches, I decided that a center start, top down shawl would be the best way to create a triangle shawl shape with this stitch pattern.

It was finally time to start crocheting! The nature of the yarn itself doesn’t have a lot of stretch or give, so to create enough of an increase to develop the triangle shape, not only would increases be created along what would be the top edge of the shawl, but I would need to figure out how to create increases along the shell spine. My original test stitching had only 2 and 3 chain spaces on either side of the center spine, but after 8 rows, there wasn’t enough give and the lack of increases in the center was pulling the top edge down. I carefully ripped back several rows and decided to add sections of 4 and 5 chain spaces. Those extra chains provided enough give in the center that the top edge of the shawl would lay straight.

Still, something wasn’t right. Those extra chains created the stretch I needed for the shawl shape, but I also needed to increase the stitch pattern as well or it would be nothing but chains and the center shell by the time I got to the bottom – not the look I was going for. A little more juggling with stitch placement on the chain spaces and the final design was complete. I worked two full sets of increases, and then sent a picture to Cascade Yarns for approval. They said yes, so I picked up the swatch and kept crocheting on it to create the shawl.

Once I finished crocheting the shawl, I decided it needed an edging to finish it off. I still had enough yarn left in the skein I was using to make an edging, so I was determined to make this a one skein shawl. After trying a couple more complicated edgings and not liking either the look or the amount of yarn usage, I decided to go with something simple. I chose to alternate single crochet stitches with large shells created from 9 treble stitches, with a larger shell at the center point.

After completing the first couple of edging shells, I knew I had made the right choice. After finishing stitching the shawl, I wet blocked it out, then wrote up the pattern from the notes I took while stitching.

And there you have it – all the behind the scenes details of how the Cloud Wrap Shawl in El Cielo was created. Thank you for going on this design journey with me. Please check out all of the wonderful crochet patterns that Cascade Yarns offers to crocheters for free. I’m sure you will find several new favorites to love.