Way back in March I received an email with the subject “Crochet Dreams”, this intrigued me as I also didn’t recognise the name the email came from. When I read it I realised that my friend and vintage clothes seller extraordinaire, Caroline, had recommended me and my crocheting (yet again, thanks Cazza) to a friend of hers. Laura had a vintage garment that she wanted recreated in her size. There were a few pictures of the garment with the email and it looked fairly straightforward.
But there wasn’t a pattern, just the garment to work from which is something I have never done before. Would I be able to recreate it? Laura sent me the garment and I started to examine the stitches, pattern and construction.
The stitch pattern was easy to work out, a two row pattern: row 1 set up row of chain loops, row 2 double treble clusters in first chain loop, 2 chains and a double crochet into the next loop and repeat. Easy. The construction of the garment was also straightforward. It was worked in one piece, starting at the bottom front, adding on chains for the arms and then working down the back. Adding on the arms caused a few head scratches but I had done something similar for one of the crocheted bikinis I have been making recently so I knew what to do.
The biggest challenge was to work out the neck shaping. I am a more confident knitter than I am a crocheter so constructing knitted garments is easy for me, I know how to shape the neck, shoulders etc but crochet is different. You can’t caste off stitches or decrease stitches in the same way that you do in knitting. I decided that I needed to work a test piece, in miniature, to get it all straight in my head. I was selling cakes at a craft fair a couple of weeks later and suffice it to say I had a lot of spare time on my hands and managed to get a lot done.
Then I had to work out the sizing based on Laura’s requirements, there was a lot of counting, adding, dividing and walking away from my notebook before I was happy that I had everything worked out. We then had to find the right wool and Laura wanted it in the same colour and weight as the original, a natural cream in a chunky yarn. After much searching we decided on this glorious Rowan yarn, 100% wool and natural undyed. It is a lovely wool to work with.
With everything ready and bikinis finished I started the garment a couple of weeks ago. I had a few false starts as I got the number of chain and patterns right but I was soon storming ahead. I knew it wouldn’t take too long once I got started but I knew the neck was going to slow me down. In the end it wasn’t very difficult at all. Once I got to where the neck started I completed one side first (just as you would with a knitted garment) then completed the second side and joined them back together and continued down the back. Once I had finished it I blocked it out to the correct size and crocheted the seams together with slip stitches.
As I started to add the trim I was getting very low on wool and at one point I thought I would run out but luckily I had just about enough, there was only a few inches left! I had guessed the amount of yarn almost perfectly. I had hoped that Laura and I could meet so I could hand over the finished garment in person but time was not on our side so I posted it to her earlier this week and this is what she had to say:
‘ A wonderful journey of a piece from start to finish. Sharon was great in sourcing the right yarns, swatching the stitches and making sure that throughout the crocheting everything was as I wanted to the vintage garment I used for inspiration. And the final piece is absolutely amazing and a piece I will hand down to future generations. The process of having a bespoke piece made is definitely something I will do again!’
A happy customer! It was a fun project to work on and has given me a lot more confidence in my crocheting and a new found love of crocheting. I am concocting all sorts of ideas as we speak!