Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nautilus Shawl - Helpful Tips and Tricks.

Another WIP - done!  I had picked up some mesh yarn the other day to try out, and after frogging multiple scarfs, I decided the yarn was meant for greater things.  A simple spiral shawl, I named the Nautilus Shawl.

I was inspired by the Kelp Forest Shawl, by KarinKnits Designs.  I didn't find the directions incredibly useful, but there is a video tutorial on how to make the shawl.  Maybe you'll get something out of it.

I literally watched it 20 times, at least, to try and figure it out.  The problem I had was that she describes how to "knit" the shawl, not crochet, until about 11 minutes in.  But then she doesn't tell you how to START the shawl with crochet, which is the only part that really matters in the construction.

I say "knit" - what she does is more like crochet with knitting needles.  Kind of a cool idea, but I'm happy hooking it.

I had the hardest time starting the shawl.

Maybe I should make my own video one day to describe in a way people like me can understand.  Any interest?

Here's my way to start the shawl, the easiest description, full of tips and tricks.

Here it is in words -

Start with a mesh yarn - there's a lot of them out there.  Stores have their own house brands of it, Red Heart makes a Sashay that Walmart carries (for under $4 a skein), and the one I used was Premier Yarns Starbella, in Fly a Kite, a rainbow of bright colors - I think I got it at Michael's.  I used two skeins of yarn for my shawl.

The yarn has a wide side, like a foundation row of stitches, and then an open mesh.  In the yarn photo, you can see the wide side almost looks like braiding, and mesh has much wider spacing.

You want to start with the foundation side (the thicker) side, on the left, and the mesh side to the right.

Use your crochet hook to pick up the first row of complete mesh stitches.  Mine had 3, and those loops sit on your hook.  Then pick a hole in the foundation row a quarter inch or so up (behind) your mesh stitches.  Crochet that foundation row, pulling the mesh loops up and over the foundation row.

You just have one loop now, and the mesh is connected to the foundation row now.  It will look somewhat bunched up.

Now don't get too worried, because the next part is tricky.  I really struggled to get this right.

You want to single crochet the mesh to the foundation row now.  You'll be pulling the mesh side around to meet the foundation row side.  Around, not over, or you'll just make a tube. Trust me, I know.  I made about every error I could trying to figure this out. :)

Stick your hook into the foundation row in the closest hole by your last stitch as you can.  It matters, so try to get it in close.  Next, pull up the next loop from the mesh, moving the mesh around the hook.  To find the next loop of your mesh, you need to look for the next row of loops from your first stitch.  Then pick the edge loop in that row.  Once you have the loop on, then just pull that loop through the foundation row and the loop you have on the hook already.  You just did one single crochet.

The trick to making it a spiral is to make sure you stay close in the foundation row per each stitch.  For the first 15 or so single crochets, I spaced them really closely together - less than 1/2" apart.  If you space it to wide, you'll end up making an odd spiral basket, which really does look like a basketball net.

After you get those 15 or so stitches in, you can begin to space out to about an inch for each stitch.

Continue that spacing as you go along, and you should notice that you are making a nice spiral, with pretty well hidden stitches.

My shawl used 2 skeins of yarn.  When I ran out of the first skein, I pulled out the second skein and matched the color variations, cutting where I needed to match.  Then on the last full loop of the first skein, I added in the first full loop of the second skein, and treated it as the same skein, in a single crochet.  Then when you go around again, just catch both sets of mesh loops.

The funny thing about spirals?  If you like symmetry, you will have a hard time leaving an odd looking end just hanging.  I single crocheted it to the end, and sewed in the ends, but it's not a circle. Yes, today I learned spirals do not mean circles.  They always said geometry would find you again. :)  The end of the spiral isn't that awkward to wear though, just pull it to wear you'd like it to be, by your neck if you don't like it, so it folds over, or in the bottom back, to show off the Nautilus effect.

I love the end result. I'm not a ruffles and frills kind of girl, and I was really afraid this would be over the top for me.  But I was determined to master this yarn, and finish a project with it.  When it was done, I threw it over my shoulders with dramatic flair, and walked calmly to the mirror, hoping the project wasn't in vain.

Thankfully, instead of grimacing, I begrudgingly decided it was much better than I had thought it would be.  It is so pretty - simple in design, colorful, ruffly around the neck, like a bolero jacket can be.  It would really dress up a little black dress and make a statement.

I declare it a successful venture into novelty yarns.  And if you feel up to mental stimulation, give it a try!

If you don't want to do it, but like it, hop over to my Etsy shop, or message me for special requests.

Thanks for stopping by!


  1. LOVE it! The colors are fantastic and the pattern is so fun :)

    1. Thanks! If you happen to know of anyone picking nursery colors soon, (hint hint) I'd love to send one for you.

  2. I have been trying this shawl, but I don't know what you mean about bringing the mesh "around" the hook. Could you explain what you mean by that? Also, do you move the mesh around only for the first stitch, or every stitch for the entire piece, or just the first 15? Please help, I have tried over and over.

  3. THANK YOU Jess! I have been searching for months for an instruction on how to make a shawl out of the starbella type yarns, and YOUR video was the easiest to understand. I am 20 inches in; the shape and spiral are coming along nicely.

    Again, I just wanted to thank you SO much! I'll keep an eye out for other instructional videos from you.

    Sisters in stitch!
    Dee Songer


Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or ideas to share.