When I was very young and first saw a picture of the Mourning Cloak butterfly, I contemplated its name. It really does look like a lacy shawl, and for the longest time I have wanted to make a shawl that looked like the butterfly. I finally finished it!
For those of you who are not familiar with this butterfly, you can see it here, the Montana state butterfly:
And here is what I came up with:
For the top part of this, I had high aspirations. There is a lace shawl pattern out there called the Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark. You can get it for free here, its lovely. Its butterfly shape inspired me, but this is not what I mostly ended up using, as I found knitting it way too slow for taste:
Anyone who is familiar with this blog knows I just don’t like working with patterns, and lace is a special challenge for anyone I think. So that brown part at the top that looks thicker and like it might be the butterfly’s head was worked in the Swallowtail Shawl Pattern on a size 4 needle. But then I just had to stop, I couldn’t stand it! Its a beautiful pattern and it was very easy to follow with both words and charts to choose from – its really great – its just that I don’t seem to be capable of following anything for some reason.
So when I hit the point where I had done that much, it was taking forever on size 4s, and I kept coming up with the wrong numbers of stitches on my needles (totally my fault I’m sure, plenty of others have made this pattern with no problem), I just had to toss in the towel! I hated to give up my idea of making the Mourning Cloak though, so, on to crochet! The rest of the shawl is done on a size H crochet hook following crochet charts (see chart and yarn refs. below).
This presented some difficulty, as its hard to switch from knitting to crochet and get something that is exactly the matching size. I picked up lots of stitches on the first row so that I knew I was picking up extra. I didn’t mind if it ruffled up at the start of the crochet, but I didn’t want it sucking inward. Also, without any guidance from a pattern, I had no idea how much to increase each row to keep it a nice butterfly shape, I just had to intuit this. That’s why the crochet part dips down a bit on the top edges and the butterfly has a “head”. I was shooting for straight but it didn’t quite work out that way, I should have increased more on those edges. I also increased on some rows next to the “body of the butterfly”, or center design. One nice thing about lacy stuff is that when you wet it and dry it flat, it gets a little bigger, and looks way better, so some of that was fixed by such blocking.
I also paid attention to make sure that if I increased one side, I did exactly the same on the other side so the wings would be even and match. When I decided what to do for what would be the body (the rows down the middle), I made sure to do that same thing on every row to make it look like a pattern.
I changed from one crochet chart (chart A below) to a looser one (chart B) as I got closer to the edges (still within the brown area) to make the butterfly look more lacy edged, then I did a row in black. When it came time to do the butterfly’s blue spots, I tied the black yarn to the blue and worked both yarns together. I was carrying both through the chain stitches, but only using blue in the center of the double crochet parts, and only black for the dc in between the spots. I was pleasantly surprised to find that doing exactly the same thing around the edge with the blue gave me exactly 11 spots on each side in the same places on both wings! I had actually managed to increase the same things on each side and end up with an equal number on each wing. It doesn’t always work out that well without patterns, I was expecting to have to fudge that somehow to make it look even! Then 2 more rows of black with the dc row just closer in than it was with chart B, switched to yellow and did 2 rows of dc around the edge, then did Chart C for the edging. It doesn’t really matter what charts you use, or if you just make it up as you go, just repeat the same things and it will end up looking like a pattern.
Here is what it looks like on. Yes, I do wear it to the grocery store and to work. Not many other people are wearing lace shawls, but that’s where I go, and I like it.
The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs. Linda P. Schapper. Lark Books, Sterling Publishing Co. New York. 2007. Chart A – chart 18, pg. 45. Chart B – chart 49, pg. 64.
The Crochet Stitch Bible. Betty Barnden. Krause Publications, Quarto Inc. 2004. Chart C – Crown picot edging, pg. 128.
Brown: Aunt Lydias Crochet Thread, 100% Viscose from Bamboo, size 10, color -Twig.
Black: Aunt Lydias Crochet Thread, Classic size 10, color – Black
Blue: Aunt Lydias Crochet Thread, Classic size 10, color – Dark Royal
Yellow: Aunt Lydias Crochet Thread, Classic size 10, color – Maize