Annette Petavy Design – Newsletter February 2009

logocrochet baby jacketcrochet baby jacket detail1crochet baby jacket detail3knitted boy jacketjar with yarnmail from ukrainedupletgerman yarnFebruary 2009: Shaping with shells (part I)


Need a baby pattern? I can suggest Robin, the latest addition to the pattern shop and the first baby pattern there (see the first three pictures at left). Robin is available as a pattern only, or as a kit in two sizes with lovely little custom-dyed buttons. Right now, it is available in pretty green. Other colourways will be added.

Shaping with shells:

Shaping is a very useful skill, whether you crochet home decor items or garments. Any stitch dictionary will show or explain a stitch pattern worked up in a square or rectangle. But if you want to do anything with a shape that doesn’t involve straight angles – even simply narrowing the ends of a straight scarf – you need to think about how to achieve that shape.

In crochet, shaping needs to be approached differently depending on which type of stitch you use. Generally, when using a solid stitch pattern, like all double crochets or all single crochets, shaping is not too difficult to understand. You add stitches or subtract stitches which align both horizontally and vertically.

However, many, many stitch patterns are constructed otherwise. Shells are a very common crochet stitch pattern, beautiful and easy to achieve. Some shell patterns align shells in vertical columns, with separating stitches in between. This month and next I will discuss a trickier but also very common type of pattern, in which the stitches are lined up like diagonal tiles. 

I will use this simple, solid shell pattern to demonstrate my ideas:

crochet swatch

In this stitch pattern, each shell is made of 5 double crochets, and the shells are « anchored » and separated by single crochets.

Here is how the shells line up:

crochet swatch with lines

This is the arrangement I was referring to when talking about diagonal tiles. With this kind of stitch, the rows interlock. Also, the stitches don’t sit right on top of each other. You have to think a little about how to do increases and decreases.

The shell is a symmetrical stitch, and in order to avoid tremendous headaches, we will want to keep it so. This means that there are two points in the shell that we can choose as the starting point for our decreases: either the single crochet that separates the shells (which corresponds to the places where the lines cross in the illustration above) or the center stitch of each shell (which corresponds to the places where the lines are the furthest from each other in the illustration). The result will be very different depending on which point we choose.

First, we will use the single crochet – i.e., the stitch between the shells – as the starting point.

In this case, the last complete row before the decreases should end with a single crochet.

Then, when you’ve turned your work, you use slip stitches to « travel » to the first logical place to work a single crochet in pattern, where you start the actual row.

crochet chart

(It’s your choice whether to work the final slip stitch in the 3rd dc or in the stitch before).

If you continue to decrease on the following row, the last stitch of the row will be the single crochet placed in the 3rd dc of the last shell.

This is how this decrease looks when worked on each row for several rows:crochet swatch 2The other possible starting point for the decreases is the center stitch of the shell, the 3rd dc.

This time, the row before the decrease should end with a half-shell (3 dc). The first decrease row will start with a half-shell, too. Just as before, you will « travel » with slip stitches, this time to the next logical place to put a « center » stitch (the first stitch of the half-shell you are going to work), which will be in the first sc on the first decrease row.
crochet chartThis type of decrease looks quite different, as illustrated in the swatch below:crochet swatch 3

Next month we will continue to look at shaping with shells!

  See you soon!


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