While I was idling a few minutes away on Instagram, as you do, a post by Joanne Scrace, AKA @notsogranny popped up in my feed. Joanne is half of The Crochet Project with Kat Goldin and I often see what they are up to via their stories. Kat’s instagram stories are like a soap opera – if you haven’t seen them, follow her and see what I mean. She details her everyday life with such humour and some great photography.
Anyway, early in June I saw that Joanne had released a new pattern for a shawl and I was interested to see what it was like. I already have the four crochet shawl books published by The Crochet Project and they can design them faster than I can make them! But this l latest one was to be a mystery crochet along, so I had to stop and think about it for a bit.
I’ve always steered away from mystery CALS because I just didn’t think they were my sort of thing. Most of the mystery projects I’ve seen have been blankets and I didn’t like the idea of investing so much time, effort and money into a project that I might not like as it got going. But this was a shawl and I knew that Joanne’s shawls are so beautifully designed so I decided to get the pattern from Ravelry anyway, leaving the decision about whether to join in or not until later.
But once I’d got the pattern and saw that the Skimming Stones mystery crochetalong was running over only 5 weeks and you could choose your own yarn (including from stash), the idea grew on me.
If you would like the pattern, its now available as a complete shawl pattern in the Ravelry store of The Crochet Project.
I’d been wanting a shawl project to use the grey alpaca and rose fibre skeins that I’d bought from the Border Mill at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March. These shades of grey were so soft and luscious and completely natural. The colours are made by blending different proportions of the black alpaca fibre with white alpaca and white rose fibre.
I was initially thinking of doing the entire shawl in a sort of monochrome but then I’d dyed up some alpaca and shetland yarn with onion skins and I thought that would go well as a contrast. The colour I chose was the one on the lower left in this picture. Its dyed with red onion skins and then modified with iron sulphate to produce this lovely mossy green.
For the main colour I was thinking of a blue and could have used some Drops alpaca and silk. Or I could wait until I went to Woolfest only two days after the first clue was due to be release and see if I could get a new main skein that was naturally dyed.
As soon as I got into the show I was on a mission as I’d arranged to meet Claire of the YouTube channel bobwilson123 at 12 noon. The first hour was relatively quiet and I had a brisk walk round everything, noting that only three vendors were selling naturally dyed yarns. And when I saw the skein from Natural Born Dyers I knew I had found ‘the one’.
I took advantage of the ball winding service at Woolfest, which was a bit nerve wracking as I was the first to go in when it opened and the ladies didn’t seem overly confident with the ball winding equipment! They paled when I told them the skein I wanted wound was a BFL silk blend and had cost me £27!
Anyway, all went without incident and when I’d had my meet up with Claire, Zoe and some other bloggers and podcasters, all I had to do was collect it.
I went back to my little holiday apartment after a very full and exciting day and started on clue one in this gorgeous little spot out looking out into the garden.
I was so keen to get going I didn’t take a proper photo of the skein, either before it was wound or when it was complete in the ball… The earliest one I have is this one taken on a little photoshoot I did in the Lake District when I’d completed Clue 1.
Its a beautiful colour and such a dream to work with. It was naturally dyed with indigo, weld and woad and the variations in colour are so subtle and delicious. The combination of the blues, greys and greens just reflects the Lake District landscape so well doesn’t it?
As I progressed through clues 2 to 5, the landscape was a bit more boring at home so I hardly took any pictures of the stages. This was a shawl that was transformed by blocking and it did look a bit scrappy as it grew. But here are some of the photos I took earlier today, showing it off it all its glory.
About Skimming Stones as a design
The shape of this shawl is unlike any that I’ve ever made. It starts at a point and increases sharply on both sides then widens out into a rectangular section with a ripple ending. It has a spine of texture that runs asymmetrically through the plain and rippled sections and the stripes of colour really make the design flow. The shawl represents a stone skimming along the surface of a still, calm river. It skims along (the spine) and bounces several times causing the ripples before landing at the end with a splash and a final flourish or ripples. So clever!
My thoughts on the Skimming Stones mystery crochetalong
Although I didn’t consider mystery crochetalongs my thing, this was a perfect project. It was interesting to choose the colours without knowing the design and to see the shape and stripe and pattern sequence unfold over the five weeks really kept my motivation going. Many other people also joined in and seeing pictures of their progress on Instagram was also an incentive to stay on track.
I found the crocheting quite meditative as there was so much counting! Sometimes that was a bit frustrating but the rows just flew by as the longest was only 81 stitches. Playing with the colour stripes was definitely therapeutic, even thought sewing the ends in was definitely not!
Would I do another mystery crochetalong? Yes, I probably would, particularly if it were a shawl. And by a known and proven designer. It was fun, it took five weeks and it produced a gorgeous and wearable shawl.
It was quite tricky to fit into a photograph and give a sense of scale – so here are a couple of final pictures of it in my beloved kitchen. You can see I’ve been spinning again! Maybe one of these days I’ll be talking about a shawl made with my own hand-spun!
Now all I need to do is practice wearing it! This is my best effort so far…
If you enjoy my podcasts and blogs please take a look at the information on my Patreon page. I’m supporting my podcasting efforts through that and through sales in my Etsy shop. One of the tutorials I’ve already put into the Patreon space shows how I blocked this gorgeous shawl… xxxx Kathryn