Saturday, August 12, 2023

Seashore Crescent Shawlette


I love to spend hours looking through vintage needlework books and old newspapers, and have a decent collection of stitches I have either printed or hand copied over the years, and I even bought a stack of booklets from eBay.  

I came across the Cowrie Shell Insertion some years ago on and knew that I had to use it for something.  There are a lot of edgings and insertions on this site, and I have seen most of them in my travels through the old stitch books, newspapers and magazines. This particular insertion pattern I believe was originally printed in the late 1800's in Canada in Home Work.  Not all of the the old books have pictures of every stitch, so this site is quite helpful as it has pictures with each stitch, and also uses modern terms.  While the old books always have an explanation of the abbreviations used, it can still be confusing; for example, they use "n" for narrow, which is generally k2tog.   

I decided to use this insertion as an edging for a crescent shawl, my favorite kind of shawl to knit.

I wanted this shawl to wear on vacation this past July; I eagerly cast on at the beginning of the year with a fine lace weight cashmere yarn in a light tan/white blend - perfect for the beach because it reminded me of the sand.  The yarn was so fine, I had to use one of those giant lighted magnifying glasses you wear around your neck to see what I was doing.  It took me forever to make progress.  I had about 50 repeats of the shell pattern done when disaster struck.  I made a mistake and had knit back to fix it, then accidentally dropped several stitches... and it went downhill from there.  So I abandoned the lovely cashmere lace yarn because it was June at that point and I knew I would never be able to finish the shawl unless I used a heavier yarn.

I had gotten a ton of Premier Chameleon from my local Dollar Store a while back and figured it would be perfect.  So I cast on and was able to finish the shawl in time for vacation.  This yarn is supposed to change color in the sun, however it never really did more than get a few very light spots of purple here and there.

This little shawlette measures appx. 9 inches from the center top to bottom curve, and appx. 35-1/2 inches tip to tip.  Just a little something to drape over your shoulders to keep the summer air conditioning at bay.

I used only one skein of the Premier Chameleon yarn, which is 100% cotton, #3 weight (DK/light worsted) 229 yds / 210 m - 3.5 iz / 100 g, and a 32" circular needle in a US size 6.

yo = yarn over

k2tog = knit 2 stitches together

k = knit

p = purl

ssk = slip, slip, knit - slip a stitch knitwise, slip another stitch knitwise, insert left needle into the front of these stitches and knit them together through the back loop

Cowrie Shell Pattern:

Row 1 (ws) : yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, yo, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 2: (yo, k2tog, p2)2x, k1, yo, k1, p2, yo, k2tog, p2, k2

Row 3: yo, k2tog (k2, p2)2x, yo, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 4: yo, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k1, yo, k3, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2

Row 5: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p4, yo, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 6: (yo, k2tog, p2)2x, k1, yo, k5, p2, yo, k2tog, p2, k2

Row 7: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p2tog, p5, k2, p2, k4

Row 8: yo, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k4, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2

Row 9: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p2tog, p3, k2, p2, k4

Row 10: (yo, k2tog, p2)2x, k2, k2tog, p2, yo, k2tog, p2, k2

Row 11: yo, k2tog, k2, p2, k2, p2tog, p1, k2, p2, k4

Row 12: yo, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2tog, p2, k2tog, yo, p2, k2

Work the Cowrie Shell pattern 30 times and bind off.  With the wrong side facing, pick up and knit 180 stitches.

Shawl Body:

Row 1: knit 92 stitches, turn

Row 2: knit 6 stitches, turn

Row 3: knit to 1 stitch before turning point, ssk, knit 2, turn

Row 4: knit to 1 stitch before turning point, k2tog, knit 2, turn

Repeat Rows 3 and 4 until all stitches of the shawl body have been worked.  Bind off and block.

Below is a video of the cowrie shell stitch.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Scrappy Scarf in Garter Stitch


I started this project ages ago and recently found it tucked away in a bag, still on the needles.  I think I had intended for this to be a wrap, but I didn't have as much yarn as I thought I did, so it is now a scarf.  

While I used full skeins of yarn specifically chosen for the project, I am calling it a scrappy scarf, because it is a great project to use up scrap yarn you don't know what else to do with.  I used a mix of smooth worsted weight yarn, loopy boucle and fuzzy mohair, both bulky weight (my own hand dyed yarn from when I had my online shop).  

I cast on 200 stitches using a 42 inch US size 11 circular needle and knit every row.  I cut the yarn after every row, leaving tails about ten inches or so and was careful to leave a long tail when I started each row.  I tied the two beginning/end tails together to create the fringe.  I didn't measure or try to make them all exactly the same length because I was going for a scrappy look.  

While this is garter stitch and technically has no wrong side, I made my color changes so that the purl bumps with the new color was always on the "back".  You can change colors on any side you want if those purl bumps don't bother you. They do look pretty neat.  You can see the purl bumps in this closeup, whereas in the pictures above, the color changes are smoother.

I chose garter stitch, but you really could throw in a few rows of a different stitch, or even use a different stitch for the entire thing.  A mesh stitch scrappy scarf might be pretty.

One thing to keep in mind with a project like this is how you treat the finished project.  You'll want to care for the scarf (or shawl or wrap) based on the yarn used that requires the most care.  For instance, if you use superwash wool and alpaca yarn, you'll want to follow the care instructions for the alpaca yarn.  If you use a machine washable acrylic and a non-superwash wool, you'll want to hand wash because of the non-superwash wool.

Needle size - My size 11 needle worked great for both my bulky and worsted weight yarns.  If you are using yarns with a big difference in weight (bulky and sport for instance) you could switch out your needles depending on which yarn you were using for each row.  Or, whatever the appropriate needle size is for your heaviest yarn can be used for the entire project; it will give the finer yarns a lacier, open look.

You can really use any yarn and needle size that gives you a fabric you like.  Use one or two colors, use a lot of colors.  Use only smooth yarns, use only textured yarns like boucle.  Knit some rows in a larger than called for needle for an open, drapey fabric, knit some rows with a smaller needle size that gives you a firmer fabric.  Use all sock yarn, use all chunky yarn. There are a lot of ways you can experiment with a scrappy project.  I hope this inspires you to pull out all of those balls of scrap yarn you have and make a unique project.

Happy Knitting!