Introducing Missed Kingfisher

I’m very pleased to day to introduce Missed Kingfisher shawl from The Shawl Project: Book Two to you. On The Crochet Project blog I have told you all about how the shawl fell as a fully formed design idea from my mind. And here I will tell you how having a fully formed design idea doesn’t necessarily make for a quick and easy design process.

small kingfisher 2

I knew exactly how the stripe pattern was going to play out. I knew how the shaping and the short rows worked. I knew the stitch pattern I wanted to use. I had the yarn sourced and wound. I grabbed a 4mm hook, the size I normally use for a 4ply shawl and started. No, too dense. 4.5mm? No too dense, 5mm? Nope! 5.5mm? No! Finally at 6mm a very shocked Joanne was happy with the fabric and the drape achieved. Through the process of so many swatches I had refined little details like the increase placements and the short row hole closing technique so it was all good. I wrote the pattern out and set too.

small kingfisher 1

As I carried on working, at about two thirds in, I became a little bit uncomfortable about how the shaping was working out, it seemed to not really want to lie flat properly. I vacillated for a day or two between “that shit will block right out!” and “this isn’t quite right.” In the end I decided to see what happened when I blocked it. It did improve things but it seemed really sloppy to produce a design, in a solid fabric particularly, that needed help to be what it was supposed to be, and even blocked I wasn’t 100% happy with the shape. So back we went to the second section and fixed what I knew the error must be. You see in the knitted versions of these shawls you do the increasing only at the ends of the rows, they all need blocking to the right shape or a hump occurs but blocking magically fixes it. Crochet is not as good at borrowing yarn from neighbouring stitches as knitting is, and there lay the problem. The design needed occasional smoothing with increases placed around the curve to allow the stubborn crochet stitches the freedom they needed to move.

small kingfisher 3

I love design realisations like this. While frustrating at the time, they push my understanding of crochet and make me a better designer. There are relatively few studies of how crochet fabric behaves and how it differs from knitting and a lot of the understanding I have is from considering carefully as I work and using these observations to inform my design practice.

The Shawl Project: Book Two is available to download immediately as an e-book (pdf) for £10 or order in print for £12 +p&p.

Print copies are now in stock and shipping in 1-2 working days.
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  1. says

    It’s lovely! And interesting to hear more about the design process as I’ve knit a few shawls in this shape and blocked the hump out! (I am trying to resist buying book 2 until I have finished a couple of commissions or I think I will have a serious “diversion of time-resources” situation, but this looks like one I’d like to try if it’s not too far beyond me!)

  2. says

    Oh my gosh, Joanne, this post really hit home. Have just finished a shawl (magazine commission – sock yarn and 5mm hook by the way!) and the process revealed some huge gaps in my knowledge of drape, shaping, and movement. Not being a maths person, working out the increases was initially a struggle too. It’s been a real learning curve – or half-hexagon to be precise – but, as you say, it will make me a better designer.

    A hump or two seem to be inevitable with any kind of row-end increasing, especially when transitioning from one section to another. The trick seems to be minimising it so that it can be blocked out.

    Your shawl looks lovely – very brave of you to tackle those curving increases and short-row stripes!

    • notsogranny says

      Its such an interesting intellectual exercise though isn’t it? I really enjoy researching around crochet fabric and characteristics and comparing it to knitted fabrics. I think this way crochet can advance into interesting new areas.