As a pattern designer, I find that I don't often make things using other people's patterns anymore. I can't always find the things I'm imagining (my brain can be a strange place, people) or if there's some particular style I'm interested in, I might just make up my own version. But while it's sometimes more convenient to be the one woman yarn show, I do think that it's good to branch out and try to work from someone else's pattern every now and then. I always learn something new: a new stitch, a new construction, or even a new way of writing out something. It's like a mini class from a fellow designer. So when I first learned about the Scheepjes 2017 Crochet Along (CAL), I knew I wanted to join in.
The 2017 CAL is for an intricately decorate Hygge shawl. Scheepjes has been hosting annual CALs for the past several years, but I had never heard of them until I saw of picture of a fellow maker's finished shawl on Instagram. It was gorgeous. I had to know more.
The CAL was already over by the time I found it, but it's still 2017, so I vote it still counts! Since Scheepjes is based in the Netherlands, there weren't any yarn kits available in the US. But, for any fellow US-based crocheters who want to get their hands on a kit, Wool Warehouse in the UK has them and the US shipping rate is really reasonable. I picked the Rainbow kit for mine, since I love the bright colors.
The CAL is broken into 13 weeks (with an optional 14th week). Some weeks are more time consuming than others, but all of them definitely require a good chunk of time to complete. Although the patterns for all the weeks are available on their website, I would definitely recommend following the original schedule and taking things one week at a time so that it doesn't become too overwhelming.
Most weeks of the CAL consisted of crocheting a sc "background" and then using yarn to cross stitch a design onto it. I think that the cross stitching is what drew me to this project; I used to cross stitch a bit back in high school, but I had never considered cross stitching onto crochet before. It's definitely given me some new ideas for future projects.
The trickiest part of the CAL would probably be the divider in between cross stitched sections. The dividers were made by precisely surface crocheting an overlapping zigzag pattern, following the stitch placement provided in the CAL instructions. The first one took forever. I had to keep pulling the stitches out and redoing them to get them in the right spots. Luckily, the divider got easier every time. I found that using extra stitch markers to mark where the corners of the zigzag should go was the best way to keep the placement straight.
Another tricky element was centering the cross stitch motifs. After the first couple, I realized that the edge of the cross stitch design always lined up with the edge of the divider; using the divider as a reference was really helpful for starting the design. After that, it was all about counting stitches to keep everything right.
I did have a small hiccup during week 7 (the first half of the large center motif). I accidentally started cross stitching the center motif one row too low, but I didn't realize it until after I'd finished. And there was no way I was going to undo everything. So, instead, I shifted the next half of the center motif down a row as well and then decreased the sc rows by 2 rows. But I don't think it's terribly noticeable.
Even though the pattern is very precise, this design is fairly forgiving of small errors. Which I think embodies the spirit of "hygge". Hygge is all about coziness, warmth, and enjoying the good things in life, not about stressing about perfectionism.
That being said, there is one element of "perfectionism" that is definitely worth the time: blocking the shawl. I don't usually block my crochet projects (lazy crocheter right here), but when I finished my shawl, the beginning edge was waaay wider than the rest of it and the center buckled in a bit. Not exactly ideal and frogging was hardly an option. Luckily, blocking saved the day! After blocking the shawl overnight on an old yoga mat, it was just about perfectly rectangular. I think I'll definitely have to start blocking more of my projects in the future, because it was seriously magical.
Overall, I was really happy with this CAL. The instructions are very clear (one quick note: the site uses UK crochet terms, which threw me off right at first until I realized it) and the yarn is amazing. It was nice to spend a little time each week, working on something just for me and learning new crochet skills. And I think the end result speaks for itself.
Thank you, Scheepjes, for the great CAL! I look forward to seeing the 2018 CAL.
Has anyone else made this hygge shawl? I'd love to hear about it and/or see a picture! You can reach me in the comments section below or on social media. Happy hooking!
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