Monday, 30 December 2013

Learning curve - when good crochet goes bad

Have you ever had a seemingly straightforward crochet project somehow go terribly wrong?

This happened to me the other day.

I bought this lovely crochet pattern for a hooded scarf.

I was excited!  Images of me, ensconced in an elegant, Grace-Kelly-like woolly hoodie, danced in my head!

(Pic of Grace Kelly from here)

The only difficulty was, I  needed to substitute the prescribed yarn, which is not available here.  According to Ravelry, the prescribed yarn (Lion Homespun) is 'bulky', which allegedly works up as a 12 ply equivalent yarn.  So I dutifully purchased this rather pretty multicoloured 12 ply (a bargain!!).

Almost immediately after starting on the project, it became apparent that there was something wrong.  The prescribed hook was too large and the work did not crochet up like it should.  So I switched to a smaller hook and extended the starting chain, figuring that I could also do more rows if required.  

But while I was working, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the yarn.  Sure, it looked pretty, but its texture was rough to the touch (there were even a few burrs in it) and it was creating a stripy effect instead of the random splashes of colour I was after.  But I persisted.  Perhaps, I reasoned, the yarn (a merino/acrylic mix) would soften after washing and conditioning?

Result: a project I am deeply unhappy with.

While the finished product looks 'OK', the hood doesn't quite sit right at the top (because of the tighter weave with a narrower ply), and the roughness of the yarn (despite conditioning) makes it unpleasant to wear.

*Sigh*  I am disappointed that my first hoodie didn't quite work out quite as planned.

But I learned some important things.  
  • You get what you pay for where yarn is concerned.  Go for quality every time!  
  • Ravelry's yarn database is not necessarily reliable where ply equivalents are concerned.  If substituting a yarn, be careful.  And ask at your local wool shop about overseas yarns.  It turns out that my local store has a reference on overseas yarns, and that according to this reference, Lion Homespun is deemed to be a 13-14 ply, not 12 ply.   I could have saved myself time and money if I had inquired at that point.  
  • Persistence is one thing, but denial is another!  Sometimes, it is better to admit to mistakes and cut your losses early on. 
And there is good news - I have now made a hooded scarf that has turned out well!

Voila!  BTW, the photos in this post feature my 20 year old daughter, Zoe.

The simple solution was to use the right ply-equivalent yarn, in this case a lovely, soft, 14 ply ('super bulky') acrylic alpaca mix.  I didn't want to muck about with multicolours this time - I just went with a nice, simple, rusty red.

The pattern worked well once the right ply yarn was involved (though I did make a few adjustments to the rounding of the hood and joining the scarf to the hood - more detail about these adjustments can be found on my Ravelry projects page).   

The slight bump at the base of the hood is from Zoe's ponytail.

Here you can see the hood join and where the scarf joins the hood.

While my daughter looks lovely and I am pleased with the result this time, perhaps this garment is not as glamourously 'Grace Kelly' as I anticipated.  It is probably more Babusha-esque, really!  I have also noticed, when comparing my finished product with the pattern picture, that my crochet is tighter than the pattern writer's, indicating that I should probably use a larger hook next time.   However, this garment will nevertheless serve me well next winter, when warmth takes precedence over glamour.  Besides, I will be as glamourous as a movie star in my mind!


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