Tuesday, March 21, 2017

National Crochet Month - Creating the Bloomfield Shawl By Laura Krzak (Guest Post)

For the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to design crochet patterns for Cascade Yarns, and today I am writing to share how I created one of the most recently released patterns – the Bloomfield shawl.

Most of the time, my inspiration starts from the yarn. Heritage Wave is a super fine weight yarn, and the lightness of the yarn just begged to be made into a shawl. After deciding what I would be creating with the yarn, the next step was the shape, and I knew I wanted to challenge myself to try a new shape.
 A close friend of mine, who is also a knit and crochet designer, had recently designed a half circle crochet shawl for another yarn company. After asking for some tips on how to create that shape in crochet, I knew that sometime soon I wanted to try designing a half circle shawl in crochet myself. A couple of months later, I received a skein of Heritage Wave yarn to swatch with for design proposals, and I knew this would be a good yarn to use to try designing a new shawl in a new shape.

So, I have the yarn, the idea of what to make with the yarn, and what shape it will be. The next step is choosing the right hook size. Normally with this weight of yarn, you would choose to work with a smaller hook size, like an F/3.75mm, but since I was looking for a lacier look, I also swatched with a few more sizes. After making swatches with the 3.75mm, as well as a 7/4.50mm and H/5.00mm hooks, I liked the lightness that the H hook created best, so that was the hook size I would use for this design.
In starting the half circle shape, I decided to use the method I learned for hat rounds increases and adapt it for this use. One of the points I like best about using this method is that the round/row numbers correspond with the number of stitches in each set. For example, Row 3 had a stitch repeat of three – 2 double crochet stitches in the first stitch and 1 double crochet in the next stitch. Using this method is a great memory trick to keep your stitch counts on track; if I’m doing Row 4, there are 4 stitches in the repeat. Since I started Row 1 with 9 double crochets and the starting section was going to only be 5 rows, my final row of the starting section would have 45 stitches. This information is important, because it determines what stitch patterns you can use.
 I knew I needed to alternate the solid stitched sections of the shawl, where all the increase stitches would be created, with a lacy stitch pattern. My stitch pattern had to fit two requirements – I wanted it to open up as much as possible when it was blocked out, and it needed to have a pattern repeat of 5 stitches, based on my Row 5 ending stitch count. It was time to turn to multiple stitch dictionaries, find lacy stitch patterns that have a 5-stitch pattern repeat, and swatch. After much trial and error, I was down to a choice of two stitch patterns, which you see above. These two stitch patterns meet the pattern repeat requirement, and they can both be described as lace, but how much will they open up?
An easy way to check if you will get the effect you want is spread the stitching out, in order to simulate how the stitch pattern will look after it has been blocked. I pinned out the swatch and discovered the bottom stitch pattern opened up much more than the top pattern. Since I wanted that look of openness to offset the solid stitched sections of the shawl, the bottom stitch pattern was the better choice for the design I was creating.
And this was how the shawl was created – deciding the shawl shape, finding the hook size that creates the effect you want with the yarn you are using, and making multiple swatches to discover the best stitch patterns to compliment the overall design. I’m very pleased with how this shawl came out, and I look forward to creating more designs with this shape in the future. Thanks for taking time to discover how this design was created, and thank you to Cascade Yarns