Finished Object: My First Crochet Project
Let me start by telling you that I’ve never been a yarn craft person, but I love all kinds of other arts and crafts and have always enjoyed using that creativity. I was thrilled to land a job in a creative environment, even if yarn wasn’t my thing. I’ve lost count of how many of my coworkers have asked me if I knit or crochet. My answer was always no. The resounding reply was always, “Well, it won’t be long; you’ll learn.”
There is so much yarning going on here at Interweave and so much beautiful yarn to look at, I couldn’t help but be at least a little interested. So when I started here about 2 years ago, I picked up a basic hook set and some yarn leftovers and tried some basic crochet stitches. I made a couple of squares and small flowers for practice. I thought, “Okay, I can do this, but it’s still not my thing.” I put crocheting on the back burner.
Recently, as I was making my office rounds, I stopped to chat with the crochet corner. They were all engaged in making the same thing: the Ghost Ranch Shawlette. I marveled at the different colors and praised them for their progress. Then they ganged up on me.
Sara: “Do you want to make one? Several of us are trying it.”
Me: “No, I don’t know how to crochet very well. I’m just a beginner; I’ve never made anything.”
Susanna: “I have one ball of yarn left.”
Me: “No . . . I don’t have the right hook.”
Susanna: *shoves yarn and hook into my hands, while Sara is printing out the pattern*
Lisa: “You’re so crafty, you can do this. We have faith in you and your craftiness.”
I’d been given the yarn, hook, and pattern, and I had an abundance of resources, including people to help me. You know what I didn’t have? Excuses. I had no excuses not to give this a try. So I took my tools back to my desk and gave it a whirl.
Turns out, this shawl is easy enough for a beginner. Aside from a couple of rookie mistakes, once I got going, this shawl worked up rather quickly. It only took 2 weeks from start to finish.
Let me break down my process. I am a person who reads both the written instructions and looks at the chart. I found the chart to be extremely helpful for this project. This pattern is very repetitive, making for lots of practice with each stitch and shell grouping. Starting in the very center (row 1, adjustable ring) each row is then worked out to the edge. Then you flip it around and work the other way back to the center and keep going to the other edge. Flip, repeat.
This pattern really taught me about post stitches and spaces, how to count to keep my place, and where to stick the hook for the next stitch. As I stitched each shell, I saw how the pattern formed. You might think checking for gauge at row 6 is unnecessary, but you won’t regret doing it. One of my coworkers forgot to do this important step and started running out of yarn at the end.
The Freia Fine Handpaints Ombre Fingering Shawl Ball Yarn is so neat! The hand-dyed colors are so pretty, and in combination with the pattern, the colors blend and change at just the right rows. Both the pattern and yarn provided unique variety. As a beginner, this helped to keep me engaged in the project.
Once you get to row 4, you will have a good understanding of what you’re doing. Then it’s just row repetition until you get to the border. By this time, you’ll have a good handle on the stitches and the shell pattern. The border is a piece of cake. To keep track of my place in the pattern, I wrote row numbers on paper and just crossed them off as I finished. I then counted the center hole spaces being created to double check if needed, which helped me understand how to count the rows.
Blocking is another important process. Dip the shawl in water or run it under the faucet to get it nice and wet. Squeeze out the excess water and pin it to a mat, a bulletin board, or your cubicle panel, and let it dry for 24 hours or so. As I was eager to finish, this was a step I was tempted to skip. Don’t. This process gently stretches and “sets” the yarn into the final shape. No lopsided shawls here. No siree, Bob!
Once you’re done with this shawl, you will be amazed at your final product, the skill of the craft, and what you have just made with your own hands. Those resources I mentioned? I used them very little. The Ghost Ranch Shawlette was my very first project, and now I’m hooked. (Pun intended.) So if you’re a beginner, GO FOR IT!
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