Archive for June, 2012

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:

The Mourning Cloak Butterfly Shawl

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.

Close up of the color border on the Mourning Cloak shawl

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


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I admit, this is not something that is going to come up for most people, but perhaps it is useful for some who may want to hide something while wearing a bikini.

This shirt is crocheted to hide the 6 inch scar from open-heart surgery.  It can be worn over a bikini top, and you can just get in the water and swim in it, you don’t ever have to remove it.  Chlorine is a noxious substance, so you may only be able to expect this to hold up for a limited time, depending on how much you use it.  That is also why I made mine white, so it won’t get bleached in the pool.)  It is made with Peaches and Cream white cotton for two reasons – cotton is cooler in the summer, and it also doesn’t pill (make the little pulls and balls on it) like acrylic does.  This is done using Arch stitch and staggered shells (see refs. below).  I didn’t follow a chart for the staggered shells, I just made them where one side was straight up (which happens if you chain a few, then double crochet a fan, and connect the other side of it to the base chain with a slip stitch).  I tried to do the same thing on each row to make it look like a pattern.  This did not come out perfect, but if you follow a chart, or are more careful about doing one thing on top of a matching thing, you will get something more perfect.

This top was started at the bottom, you chain and wrap it around yourself until it fits.  You want to leave a little room so its not tight, but you also don’t want it loose because you want it to stay in place over your bikini top.  It was worked upward in the round until the place for the arm holes was reached, then the front and back were worked upward from there separately in back and forth rows, which leaves you the arm holes.  Stop when its high enough in the front and back and leave a hole for the neck and go back and forth over the 4 shoulder pieces, the width you want them to be, until they are long enough to fit you when seamed together.  Then you just seam over the shoulders and you’re done.


Chart for Arch mesh: The Crochet Stitch Bible.  Betty Barnden. Krause Publications, Quarto Inc. 2004. This chart was “Arch Mesh” pg. 87.

Even though I did not use a chart for my random staggered shells, I got the idea from the many charts I have seen in my books.  You can find charts for staggered shells in The Crochet Stitch Bible, on pages 75 (The Tulip Stitch), and 78 (Paris Stitch), and also in:

The Complete Book of Crochet Stitch Designs.  Linda P. Schapper.  Lark Books, Sterling Publishing Co. New York.  2007.   This book has a whole chapter on staggered shells, starting pg. 140.

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This tunic top was very easy and fast to do, skinny yarn, open stitches, and a size H hook makes for a lacy appearance. (Yes my tank tag is hangin’ out, c’est la vie.)

Beginning, and the tunic neck -For this top, I made a chain (which was the neck hole), holding it up to myself to get the right measurement and taking into account that I wanted a big V dip (mark where you want that to be with waste yarn tied on).   For the neck I did random double crochets and chains (doing the same thing for a whole row, but varying row by row).  To turn the corners to make the V, I did what is basically the corners of granny squares – more stitches and 2 chains between them in the same hole or something similar will make a corner.  Just use logic here, if it turns the corner, its all good.  To make the square area in front, on the 5th row in, I did increasing sizes of stitches down to where it would be mostly straight across (a few double crochet, a few triple, a few quadruple, then quintuple -just wrap more times).   Then I chained across the bottom, and when I got to the opposite side, did the opposite order going up so it would be a mirror image.  Then a did a little border around that to help shape it better on the 6th row with more double crochets and spaces of chain, and double crochets in the chain I made in the bottom of the front square area.  You can vary this and do it however you like it best.

Then you want to start working the body, I used honeycomb stitch (reference below).  I threw it over me and started about half way down the front of the arms, went back and forth, keeping the armhole a straight line, and connected a second end of the yarn to the other side and went back and forth to keep them even. Then connected a third yarn on the back to work the back (also back and forth) at the same time so I could throw it over myself and see where I wanted the armholes to stop.  (You don’t have to do all of those at once if its easier not to and too many yarns is annoying.)  Make sure to throw it over you often, if you make it too tight, you won’t want to wear it because it’ll pull too much, better to check.  End of armholes -At that point, (whenever you decide the armholes are big enough), I connected the front and back and just did the body in the round, continuing with honeycomb.  Stop when its as long as you want it.  Be sure to throw it over you a row or two after starting the body to make sure its not too tight.  If you need to fudge for increasing or decreasing for size, do it on the seams under the arms so it’ll be more hidden.

Honeycomb stitch is from:  The Crochet Stitch Bible.  Betty Barnden, Krause Publications, a Quarto book, 2004.  Page 90.

Yarn: Phildar Ysatis 427 (this is a yarn from europe, made in West Germany) not sure what to call the color, perhaps 500 427 006.

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