Hope you have all had a great week of crocheting! It's been great to see so many of you active in the comments and in the Ravelry group -- this is the beauty of a crochet-along for sure! I've certainly made progress this week - the body length is done and it's time to talk armhole shaping. The beauty of this pattern is that the shaping is very minimal: the construction is like that of a modified drop shoulder -- there is a slight inset for the the sleeve, but without the complicated sleeve cap construction of a full set-in sleeve.
The shaping is accomplished by switching back to working in parts: right front, back and left front worked separately, then later seamed at the top for the shoulders. By doing this, you are leaving a slight inset section on each side, visible in the pattern schematic. The main thing to be aware of is that for the fronts you are maintaining the 5 hdc cluster at the center edge, but only ch-1 spaces on the edge that the sleeve will be worked from. The back no longer has this cluster at all and is only composed of the ch-1 space stitches. This is because later the sleeves will be worked off of these edges (armhole opening) so there is very minimal finishing to be done!
For clarification on the right and left fronts: After row 1, the pattern just says "continue in established pattern" which can feel a little vague given that this is a whole new section. BUT what they mean is what I explained above about the 5 hdc clusters at the inside edge only and is accomplished by working row 1 of the right front followed by row 1 of the left front, then repeating. Written out for the right front:
Row 1 (RS): Ch 2, turn, sk first hds, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * 10 (12, 14) more times
Row 2 (WS): Ch 2, hdc in same sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * across to last 5 hdc, ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in last 4 hdc, hdc in top of turning ch.
Rep these 2 rows until fronts measure 11 (12, 13) in from beginning of armhole shaping.
The same applies to the Left Front, only starting with row 2. Hope this helps clear up the confusion of continuing in established pattern!
Having finished this section I'm ready to sew the shoulder seam and move on to the sleeves - but I'm choosing to pause and block the body of the sweater at this point. Why? Well for starters, it's going to be easier to lay the cardi out to dry at this point, because all pieces can be laid flat without overlap since the shoulders aren't closed up yet, allowing it to dry much faster. It's also a good idea to block before seaming in general, so you have all the pieces to their correct size based on the schematic and your stitches nice and even.
To block, I soaked my sweater in a sink full of lukewarm water and fiber wash for about 15 minutes, then rolled it gently in a towel to remove the excess water.
I then used blocking wires along the top and edges of the sweater and pinned it into place on my blocking board, using a tape measure to make the pieces match the size of the schematic, then let it dry! Cotton takes some time to dry, so I have to be patient before I can move on to seaming, but it will be worth the wait. I'm excited to see how the ch-1 space pattern opens up with blocking.
Don't have blocking wires or blocking mats? You can easily use pins (T-pins work the best) and pin into folded towels or carpeting: any surface you can pin into will work, just take the moisture into account.
Close up of space under the armhole
You can also steam block instead of the wet blocking procedure I did, I just don't have a steamer to use personally. If you use the steam setting on your iron, be VERY SURE not to press the iron to your fabric! You never want to iron your crochet fabric because it flattens the yarn and stitches beyond the point of rescue! And please take into account the fiber content of your yarn when choosing a blocking method: acrylic doesn't take too kindly to high heat so be careful if you use steam not to melt it - wet blocking is a better option. And there are some who say acrylic can't be blocked, but it's not true! I think it's always worth the time to block your pieces to even out stitch tension and get the best look out of open-work patterns like this one.
I'll see you next week when my sweater is dry from blocking and ready to move on to seaming and sleeves!
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