I look pretty chilled, don’t I? Oh yeah, just hanging out here in my pretty dress and shawl. No big deal. Hah! So much for ‘the camera never lies’…
It’s a bit of a cliche to say that crochet is quicker than knitting. I always add the caveat that it’s quicker once you’re a confident crocheter working on a simple pattern! Otherwise, I think beginners get put off that they’re not zooming through the rows.
On the other hand, when you know what you’re doing, crochet really is incredibly fast, as I proved last month. We’d accepted an invite to a wedding where we only knew the bride. Or rather, my husband knew the bride. I knew no one! This made choosing an outfit tricky – what do you wear when you don’t know what other people are going to be wearing? I didn’t know if it was a ‘hat’ wedding, a casual wedding, society or informal. Nothing.
Fortunately, Oasis came through for me, as it so often does, and I found a wonderful dress on their sale rack. It was part of their collaboration with the V&A earlier in the year and, best of all, was reduced from £65 to £25! Bargain! (I have to say, Oasis have yet to let me down. Their clothes are well-made, well-cut and their sales brilliant. I’m not on commission, just a fan :))
I’m still not sure if wearing white to a wedding is a faux pas, but I just fell too much in love with the dress to care.
But the thing that gives me real confidence is wearing things I’ve made. I wear one of my handmade shawls every day, and I decided I wanted to wear one to the wedding. There was only the slight problem that I bought the dress on Wednesday and the wedding was on Saturday. That gave me just over 48 hours to find yarn, choose a pattern, make the shawl and block it.
It was kind of spooky how well my two yarns matched my dress. Apparently my taste is very consistent!
The pattern is Your Mileage May Vary by Joanne Scrace (from the first Shawl Project book) and the yarn is my favourite base, merino/tencel, dyed by The Knitting Goddess. I love this yarn blend – it’s a joy to work with, the sheen is perfect and the stitch definition spot on. The original thought was for a two-skein shawl, but given the time limit and how perfectly one skein matched my dress, I scaled it back to one. I wound the yarn and started work on Wednesday night, managing more than half of the edging pieces. I carried on before work on Thursday morning, finishing the edging by 8.30. My plan had been to carry on at lunchtime but (disaster!) I managed to leave my crochet bag in the office. That meant I only had the evening to finish off, and yes, I really did stand outside my front door crocheting to the end of the row, having walked down the road with it from the bus stop.
It was fun keeping everyone on Instagram updated with my progress, and to know I’m not the only person who stands outside their door stitching!
Luckily I’d made a double portion of dinner on Wednesday night, so I was able to just sit and stitch (and stitch and stitch) on Thursday night, rattling through the rows and only having a minor game of yarn chicken to get to the end. I soaked and blocked it while dinner was heating up, and by Friday night, it was dry and ready to wear (note: we have a dehumidifier as our flat is slightly damp. It’s wonderful for drying blocked shawls quickly!). It helped that the pattern was well-written and easy to follow, and had a clever construction. I haven’t made an ‘edging inwards’ shawl before, so was a little skeptical, but I really enjoyed the way the pattern flows. Mathematicians talk about proofs of theories being ‘elegant’, and I always find that with The Crochet Project patterns. It’s not so much about the elegance of the finished product (although that also applies), it’s about the way they’re constructed and written, a style that’s hard to describe but that just clicks with my brain in the right way, and makes it easy for me to make their designs. Of course, using Sports weight yarn and a largish hook also helped, but I doubt I could have managed if the pattern hadn’t worked so well.
Even pre-blocking, it looked pretty good.
As it happened, I’d got it spot on with the dress code, and we had a lovely time at the wedding. I’m normally terribly anxious with groups I don’t know, but everyone was incredibly welcoming and really made us part of the family for the day. The weather was beautiful and we ended up having a fabulous morning in Poole on the Monday.
Messy hair, but gives you a good look at the shawl.
And I proved that yes, if you really, really try, you can make a shawl in two days. Maybe I should try that more often!