Monday, January 14, 2013

Broomstick Lace - the Green Chai Cardi

Green Chai Cardi (c) Interweave Publications
I've sometimes thought that it's a bit pointless for us to run classes in broomstick lace and tricot/Tunisian crochet when there are so few patterns for either technique. I mean, there's only so many scarves that you can wear/give away as gifts/sew onto street furniture as art - eventually you want to do something with your new skill other than produce a rectangle. Fortunately, over in the USA, they have the same problem, and the kind ladies at Interweave publications have come up with some very nice designs using both techniques. So I shouted myself a Christmas gift of half a dozen downloadable patterns from their website.

The first cab off the rank had to be the Green Chai Cardi. (The logic behind this decision? It's my Mum's birthday soon, and she looks like the model in the photo. Certainly more than she looks like me! So I figured it would look great on her and therefore would be an awesome birthday present).

For my first trick, I had to work out what would substitute for Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK (yet another yarn that we can't get in Australia! Grrrrr....). I could have tried buying some over the internet, but with a February deadline and Christmas/New Year likely to delay shipping, I didn't want to take the chance. The obvious answer would be 'substitute any DK yarn from the shop' - however, I've tried crocheting US patterns with Aussie DK yarns before, with pretty ordinary results. I tried a broomstick lace swatch with some leftover Jo Sharp DK, just to prove my point, and came up with something significantly smaller than the gauge required.

Previous experiments with US patterns and Aussie wool suggested that an Aran yarn would probably give the right results. Sure enough, I dug out some scraps of Jo Sharp Aran Tweed, whipped up more swatches and it was right on target. It also comes in a colour that looks fairly similar to the Tosh Merino Thyme shade used in the photos (shade 139 Spring). Surprisingly, it worked with the hook and needle sizes specified in the pattern - usually, I need to go down one size to get the correct gauge for a crochet pattern.

Green Chai Cardi Yoke in Jo Sharp Aran Tweed (Spring)
That was the yarn and the hook sizes sorted. My next trick was to work out what size garment to make. Interweave patterns do measurements in inches and work to US sizes, which are larger than the sizes used in Australia. With an Australian pattern, for example, you can safely assume that the smallest size is a woman's size 8. A quick search through the internet left me pretty confident that the smallest size on this pattern was an Australian size 10, which is Mum's size.

I've done the back yoke and the left front yoke already (less than an hour for both pieces - broomstick lace is an incredibly fast technique). More importantly, I've also tried this on Mum just to confirm that I've selected the right size Luckily, I'd guessed right - Mum's a perfect US size 8 and the yoke went across her shoulders perfectly. Off to work the last yoke panel tonight - then onto the shell pattern tomorrow.


Sue said...

What a pretty cardigan. One of the ladies in my knitting group does the broomstick lace and it looks gorgeous, and she only makes scarves too.

Andrea Tappe said...

It's lovely, isn't it - if your friend is getting sick of scarves, send her over to - there are some really nice broomstick lace patterns on sale there at the moment :)