Can you spot the hidden motif? …Incredible sweater tricks with crochet motifs!
While we were working on the spring issue of Interweave Crochet, I picked up a little green shrug from the pile of projects and, running my hand over the lace fabric, said “Ohhhh.” And then I said, “Is this a Robyn Chachula?”
Robyn Chachula is an incredible crochet designer and she has this way with crochet motifs. She designs sweaters built entirely of motifs and partial motifs, engineered cleverly to make garment shapes that fit women’s bodies oh so well. She did indeed design the Unfettered Shrug for the spring issue, and it ended up making the cover! Check it out here.
I reached out to Robyn to ask her about this shrug, which, like so much of her work, features a seamless allover fabric of joined motifs. Working in a single color is key to that allover look—you don’t notice the motifs individually—they become hidden in the fabric!
Lisa: You really challenge our notion of motifs in crochet, when so many people think of multi-colored granny squares. What is it you love about motifs?
Robyn: I do love motifs. It comes from my background as a structural engineer. I like building blocks that I can play with. Motifs are my version of Legos—they are just prettier! I love the fun of combining motifs and just watching the new fabric that grows from crocheting them together.
Lisa: Are you some kind of genius to figure out how to place motifs and partial motifs just so to get shapely garments?? How do you do it?
Robyn: Hardly! I literally engineer it. When I design, I plan out every part before I pick up my hook. I will draw the layout in AutoCad (my engineering drafting program) and play with the design. I even draw out all the stitch diagrams and work out all the connections before I start work. I definitely have to tweak here and there, but I find working from a blueprint easier for my brain.
Speaking of blueprints, Robyn has written three books that approach crochet design from this engineer’s perspective—Blueprint Crochet, Blueprint Crochet Sweaters, and Baby Blueprint Crochet. The first book, Blueprint Crochet, includes several sweaters that use this joined-motif approach, and they’re just gorgeous.
When you look at these fabrics, can you spot the hidden motifs? I asked Susanna Tobias, our crochet project editor here at Interweave, if she could trace the motifs in the Unfettered Shrug for me, and she obliged with this picture:
It helps to identify the center of each motif—in this case, where stitches were worked into the center ring. Once you see that center, your eye will catch the round shape that emanates from the center—ahh, the motif. But when motifs are joined, your eye notices other shapes, which is what I love about Robyn’s work. The spaces between motifs are as important to the lace as the motifs themselves.
The other thing I love about the Unfettered Shrug is the silhouette. I wear cropped cardigans over dresses all the time; especially high-waisted dresses. This shrug will work perfectly with that style, and the pattern includes plus sizes, so it’s a great project for everyone. I often hear plus-sized women say they can’t wear cropped shapes, but this shrug will be very flattering if you choose the right size and pair it with the right layer underneath. Choose a size that measures close to your waist circumference or the circumference just under your bust—don’t go by your actual bust measurement.
Check out your size options for the Unfettered Shrug and the 17 other delightful designs in the spring issue of Interweave Crochet. From sweaters to shawls to bags to jewelry, there’s something light and lovely for all your crochet wishes.
Consider it a blueprint for your springtime crafting.
Yours in yarn,