Baby Shawl Diaries 3 – Crown Him!

The crowns border has crocheted up beautifully but has proved a challenge to crochet up into a straight edge. I have tried various techniques and done much frogging!  So progress has been slower than I’d like. I also had a commission piece to upsize and adapt to fit to that took a bit of time but it was definitely worth it as the feedback from the customer was very positive: “its perfect”


Coming back to the shawl, after various attempts at evening out the border,  I had a brain wave and decided to try treating it like a chevron pattern with decreasing at the base of the triangles and increasing at the top. To reduce the depth I also needed to adjust the stitch height as I went up and down the waves.

I kept each corner the same – 2tr, 2ch 2tr on each round so that the shawl continued to increase in size

Round 1

I worked 1 dc into each st on the chevrons, as this gave me a solid base to work from, with each corner being worked as above

Round 2

Then I worked out a pattern to reduce the depth of the chevron:

(1htr, 1ch ) x3 along the side, 3dc into the picot at the top, (1htr, 1ch ) x3 down the side, work special decrease for the base , rep along the side until you reach the corner

Working the Special Decrease

I needed a to vary the height of the stitches to start the ‘flattening processwpid-picsart_1424287696552.jpg‘ and work a decrease, so I combined 2 treble sts with a central double treble, into the 3 sts that formed the base of the chevron as follows:

Step 1 – partial treble, worked into st 1: yo, hook through st, yo, pull back through st, yo pull through 2 loops on hook, leaving 2 loops on the hook

Step 2 partial double treble, worked into st 2 – yo x2, yo, hook through st, yo, pull back through st , yo pull through 2 loops, yo pull through 2 loops, leaving 3 loops on the hook,

Step 3 – partial treble, worked into 3rd st :yo, hook through st, yo, pull back through st, yo pull through 2 loops on hook, leaving 4 loops on the hook,

Step 4: Complete the decrease: yo again and pull through all 4 loops.

This completed the chevron pattern and kept the number of sts even.

To make it simpler to understand here’s a diagram of the stitch pattern I developed:



Round 3

wpid-picsart_1424287587276.jpgI kept the corners consistent, then I worked the following pattern which has virtually evened out the shawl to a slightly uneven edge:

1htr, 1ch, 1 htr, 1ch, 3htr into 2nd of 3dc, 1ch 1htr, 1ch, 1htr, 1ch, tr2tog – missing 2nd of 3 sts at base of triangle



What do I mean by keeping the sts even?

If you think of the shawl like a large granny square, the only place you increase stitches to keep the sides even is on the corners. So when designing the shawl I need to apply this principle otherwise it will quickly lose shape and look messy.

So when working the chevron I need to remember to balance the stitches decreased at the base of the cluster, with the stitches increased along the sides and into the picot. On the 2nd round I increased 2 sts into the picot – working 3dc into 1 sts, so I made sure I decreased 2 sts at the base when working the cluster as I crocheted 3 sts together.


Baby Shawl Diaries 2 – Finished the Lettering!

Over the weekend I carried on working on the filet crochet for the centre of the shawl and completed it on Saturday night.




The centre includes Baby’s initials and the year of birth as he has not yet arrived!


Next step – Add the Borders.10965617_1780787538813915_1770169662_n

The border designs, like the style for the central lettering, are chosen by the parents or parents to be or the proud grandparents. We talk about what they like and I sit down with pen and paper and come up with some filet panels that can be worked around the edges. In this case its teddy bears.

I charted a bear in pencil and then messed up a bit when drawing in the solid blocks in black so anywhere with an X shouldn’t be a blocked in square. Will redraw the chart properly and use it for a filet tutorial at a later date.


I also show the customer a range of lace crochet border designs and we talk about what they would like to use to edge the centre panel and then add a final edging to the shawl.

Mum to be wants crowns as her baby will be born fairly closely to the new Royal Baby so we had a trawl through pinterest and arrived at this design.

If you would like to crochet this border you can find the chart HERE – the site is French but the chart is universal and easy to read.

Mum has decided to have the crowns first to provide a pretty break between the filet centre and the filet bears, so I will need to work a row of crochet that fills in around the crowns to get me back to a base for the filet….

Then we will select some more edgings to increase the dimensions of the shawl

Next post will be the finished crowns band with the fill in row….. lets see what I can come up with!




Baby Shawl Diaries 1 – Mathematical Musings

The centre of the shawl is worked in filet crochet using 4ply yarn and 3mm hook.

When charting filet crochet the design is drawn onto squared paper. Each square represents a filet block. Blocks can be open or filled in with treble crochet stitches.


Anything inside the black lines is a treble crochet block.

Choosing The Block Size
There are 2 approaches to creating the blocks – the 3 stitch or 4 stitch method. Its important to decide which method you want to use before working out the length of your foundation chain – its not possible to work out the chain from the chart without some number crunching.

The 3 stitch approach, which I prefer for baby makes as it has smaller spaces and I think a nicer finish, has each open block made up of 1tr 1ch 1tr and each closed block as 3tr.
As you crochet you will discover that the final tr of block 1 is also the 1st tr of block 2 and if you are working 2 closed blocks the 1st block is 3tr but again the 3rd tr is also the 1st tr of the next block so you only need to work 5tr.

So working out the stitch count is not a simple multiple of 3, its a multiple of 2 with extra stitches added to account for turning chains and the 1st st of the row.

Likewise the 4st version will be a multiple of 3 plus additional stitches.

I chose a 3st block….

And made my first error – I got my numbers crossed, multiplied by 3 and ended up with far too many sts and holes. My first attempt at the centre panel was duly frogged and the maths reworked!

Because I have done quite a bit of filet I only chart the fiddly bits – pictures and letters – I tend to use rough notes or sketchy diagrams  for simple borders / frames The purple pencil in the diagram is the plan for this section.  If you are new to filet, chart everything!


My Design
I wanted 1 open block at the start of each row plus 1 open row around the outside.
I then wanted a frame of 1 closed block, 3 open blocks, 1 closed block surrounding the lettering. The letters were arranged 4 open blocks in from the 2nd band of closed blocks.

Calculating the Starting Chain

Frame:  2 x sections of 10 blocks
Letters: 18 blocks 
Total: 38
38×2= 76ch

Additional Stitches
1 extra st to complete the row
4 turning chain for the first block – 3ch = 1tr +1ch = 5st

Final Count
So to get my stitch count:
38×2=76 +5 extra ch = 81ch

Half Completed
I started this yesterday evening:


Historical Yarns 1 – The Starring Role

Back before Christmas I posted a quick intro to a series of posts on the history of wool…. the plan was a weekly post giving snapshots of the way we have used wool down the centuries. Since the original post I’ve been refining my plans a bit and have decided that I need to take a more focused approach, because there is just so much stuff out there and so many areas of interest. So the plan for 2015 is to post fortnightly and focus on the medieval era – from the fall of Rome to the end of Henry VII’s reign. Geographically I plan to focus on the Hampshire area, just because living there means I can go and see places that were important, photograph them and take inspiration from them for my knitting, crochet and yarn art projects. I also want to look at the role of women in the production of both yarn and the woolen cloths made from it and have a go at some of the wool crafts that have developed over the ages.

All links in this post lead to sites I have used to develop this article

However we would not have wool in any form if it wasn’t for our stars…. the sheep!

Where Did The Idea of Using Wool Come From?

The answer is lost in the mists of time, however we do know that wool has been used since pre history to make clothing. From my reading and thinking, I have an idea that initially man would have used the fleece whole. He chased and killed a wild sheep and skinned it. Using it as a covering he realised it kept him warm in winter. So Mrs Caveperson then started sewing the sheep skins together to make warm clothing for her family.

The hunter-gatherer peoples would also have found wool on thorns and in thickets where sheep had rubbed against or got caught. They might have gathered the wool and used it for padding. Someone could have sat around a campfire twisting a piece of raw wool and realised it made a yarn.

Domestication of Sheep

Faroese Sheep – Iceland

Once farming communities started to develop in the Neolithic period, post the last Ice Age, around 5000BC , people decided to domesticate some of their animals, including sheep, for wool, milk and food. The early domestic sheep retained many of their wild characteristics, an anecdote from lady who has worked as a reenactor on an Iron Age farm, where shearing was just beginning to develop, made me realise just how strong and resilient early farmers would have been when they first started shearing. However that is a subject for another post!

The early breeds shed wool, and the women and children would go out wool gathering in the areas where sheep were kept. It is probably during this time that spinning and weaving first appeared, subjects I will be covering later in the series. Sometimes they would also pluck the sheep, to remove remaining wool, but I would think this was a task that required the men to assist in restraining the sheep to be plucked

The closest breeds I have discovered to these ancient sheep breeds are the sheep of the The Scottish Islands, St Kilda and Iceland

Men of St Kilda, with native soay sheep

Orkney Sheep, possibly introduced by the Vikings









Breeding – The Start

As time went on the various breeds of wild sheep would be crossed with other wild sheep / early domestic sheep. I would think that early crosses could have happened accidentally, perhaps through trading networks. Ancient Farmer Bill, living somewhere in what is now England, trades a few of his sheep with Ancient Farmer Pierre from France. Bill takes his French sheep home and his ram decides to get friendly with the new comers. Bill discovers that the meat, fleece and / or milk of the “new sheep” or cross breeds is better and decides to segregate them from his English flock, still leaving the French ewes with the English ram to create more cross breeds. As there is archaeological evidence that sheep were often more prized for their fleece than their meat, lets call the “new sheep”  the extra wooly sheep. Bill sits and thinks about this and wonders if using his new cross bred ram to mate either with his “new sheep” or his English ewes will make more wool, he discovers it does and over time a new breed is established. I appreciate this is a very simplistic view but I don’t want to send you to sleep with a small volume on sheep genetics and breeding…. it would probably send me to sleep trying to research it. And to be fair Bill had no idea about genes or DNA, after all this was a good thousand or so years before Mendel started playing with his peas 🙂


However one drawback of Bill’s “new sheep” is that is no longer sheds its fleece and plucking isn’t working well either. However living in the late iron age/  early Roman period gives Bill access to iron bladed items and he experiments with using the tools to hand – knives or possibly hair shears to remove the fleece from his sheep. He probably discusses the problem with the village blacksmith and eventually some prototype of  sheep shears is developed giving 2 blades that can crop the wool. Maybe he practised on sheepskins, after killing a couple of barren ewes for their meet – we don’t know. However the hair shears theory might have some truth as they have been discovered during archaeolgical digs on iron age sites and sheep shears have been excavated on Roman sites. I will be researching and writing about shearing in more depth in the Spring.

Using The Wool

We know that drop spinning and weaving cloth developed as communities became settled and progressed technologically. Techniques such as sprang, naal binding and weaving would have appeared and developed during this time, but again we know little of their origins in terms of the earliest dates, simply because textiles don’t tend to survive in the ground and much of the equipment would have been made from wood, which also degrades. Sewing needles however still survive from these early periods because they were made of bone and survive in favourable conditions.


Without the sheep we would not have had access to wool, which in later times was the staple of the English economy. We don’t know a lot about the original wild sheep that would have been domesticated or the origins of breeding sheep, but we do know that the late Iron Age people & the Romans were shearing them by hand. We also know that early peoples used their observations and knowledge of sheep and experimented with various ways of producing wool and using it. Had I a Time Machine I would love to sit by the fire watching the first woman tease yarn from a fleece and work out how to use it!

In my next post I will look in more depth at the sheep of the Roman era and give a brief overview of the the methods employed to use the wool and the uses it was put to. This will be easier to research as the Romans enjoyed writing things down, so hopefully there will be far less conjecture involved 🙂