Tips & Tricks
It won’t be long before the Hygge CAL will start! In order to prepare yourself for the CAL, we have created a Tips & Tricks document for you with info about the CAL and the used techniques. In this document you will find instructions for the Gauge square, information and tips regarding the cross stitch embroidery in this CAL and instructions on how to block your shawl afterwards.
To make sure your shawl has the same measurements as listed in the pattern it’s recommended to crochet a gauge square. A gauge square is a test to make sure your tension matches the pattern’s tension. The 10 x 10cm (4in) gauge for this pattern is 19 dc and 19 rows when worked with a 4.5mm (US size 7) crochet hook.
Pattern for gauge square (UK)
dc double crochet
With Stone washed, ch20.
Row 1 Starting in 2nd ch from hook dc to end, ch1, turn. (19 dc)
Rows 2-18 19dc, ch1, turn.
Row 19 19dc, place stitch marker in last stitch.
Now gently flatten your gauge square with your hands and measure it. If your square measures 10 cm in width and height, your gauge is comparable to the pattern’s gauge and your final measurements of the shawl will most likely be similar too.
If your square is smaller, re-do the gauge square with a larger crochet hook. If your square is larger, consider redoing it with a smaller hook. The hooksize that makes your gauge match the pattern’s gauge is the hooksize you will be using during the CAL.
If you can’t seem to match the pattern’s gauge, that’s OK too. It just means that your shawl’s measurements might be different. However, keep in mind that this also might mean you’ll need more yarn than is provided in the kit to finish the shawl. Keep an eye on the looks of the crochet fabric too. You don’t want the gauge square to have very visible holes, as that will show in your shawl too. Don’t get too worried over the gauge though, In the end, it’s important that you feel good about this CAL!
When your gauge square is done, Cut of the yarn and weave in loose ends.
Cross stitch Embroidery
In this CAL you will learn how to cross stitch on crochet. Because practice makes perfect, we will practice this on the gauge square. There will be a video tutorial for embroidery too, which will be released in the first week we will do the embroidery on the shawl, so don’t be disheartened if the embroidery doesn’t work out like you imagined it right away.
Basics of cross stitch
Cross stitch consists of, as the name implies, crosses that together form one stitch. You will be embroidering over crocheted stitches in this CAL, which is very similar to embroidering on embroidery fabric.
In order to understand the embroidery process and read the accompanying diagrams, you need to first visualize the embroidery grid on the crochet fabric. To help you do so, take your gauge square and hold it up to the light. You will see the light shining through the 4 corners of each stitch (you might need to stretch the gauge square a bit to see this). These corners are the corners you’re going to make crosses in.
The easiest way to make a cross stitch is as follows:
Imagine the 4 corners are called A, B, C and D, starting in the left upper corner and going clockwise.
- Step 1: Insert your threaded needle from the back to the front in B.
- Step 2: Over the front of your work, insert your needle from the front to the back in D.
- Step 3: Over the back of your work, insert your needle from the back to the front in A.
- Step 4: Over the front of your work, insert your needle from the front to the back in C.
You repeat this for each stitch, keeping in mind that adjacent stitches share their corners (So the B and C corners of one stitch are the A and D corners of the stitch to the right) . When you insert your needle in a corner, try not to split threads from previous cross stitches.
If you prefer to work your A-C line before your B-D line, that’s a possibility too. It’s recommended to keep the order in which you make the ‘legs’ of your cross stitches the same throughout the CAL.
You will have to switch colours sometimes in the patterns (more on that later). It might seem attractive to take 3m of colour so you won’t run out when you embroider. However, long lengths are difficult to pull through and will tangle up on itself. It’s better to have smaller pieces of 50-75cm (20-30in). This means more ends to weave in, but will benefit the look of your embroidery.
Starting, ending and changing colours
To get started with a colour or switch colours while embroidering, weave your thread through a couple of stitches at the back of your work adjacent to the stitch you want to embroider in. Weave back and forth to secure your yarn tail. Now you can start making cross stitches as explained earlier. When you finish a colour, simply weave your thread forth and back one time and cut off the remaining yarn.
Reading embroidery diagrams
The embroidery diagrams are a schematic representation of your cross stitch pattern. Each square (pixel) in your diagram represents a stitch in your crochet fabric. Coloured squares are stitches that will be embroidered, white squares will not have embroidery on the crochet piece. As you can see, the embroidery diagram for the gauge square is comprised of 19 pixels in width and in height, just as your gauge square is 19 dc in width and 19 rows in height. The letter in each coloured square represents the colour that the cross stitch is worked in. You can find the key to the letters in the colour table listed below.
Embroidery diagrams aren’t read like crochet diagrams in the sense that there isn’t a set order in which you embroider your stitches. In the end what counts is that all stitches are worked. In general it’s the easiest to start reading a diagram on one side, and work your way towards the other side. Important is to keep counting the stitches in the diagram and on your work. To help you with the counting, thicker lines have been made in the diagram every 5 stitches.
To practice, have a look at the diagram at the next page. As you can see, each row in the pattern only uses one colour. You can approach this pattern 2 ways: you can work in vertical rows working from right to left or left to right, meaning that you have to switch colours often. Or you work in horizontal rows from top to bottom or bottom to top, finishing a row before you move on to the next colour. Both methods will yield the same results in the end. However, the second method is the easiest to work for this particular pattern.
Some patterns in the CAL will be straightforward, like this pattern. Others will be more intricate and require you to switch colours more often. In the end it doesn’t matter in which order you cross stitch the stitches, as long as you count carefully.
To practice, embroidery the diagram on the next page on your gauge square. Don’t feel disheartened if it doesn’t look perfect on the first try. You will get lots of practice in this CAL!
Blocking your shawl
Blocking is the process in which you wet your crochet piece, in order to give the stitches extra definition and to work out any minor flaws in the shape. When you block your work, the tension in the stitches is more evenly divided which means that your stitches simply look better after blocking.
In previous CALs we have blocked motifs each week. Because this CAL is worked in one piece, we will block once, at the end of week 13. Because Catona is 100% cotton and Stone washed is a cotton blend, we recommend wet blocking over any other blocking methods.
To wet block your piece, you need the following items:
- Blocking boards or a surface that can hold pins (old yoga mats or mattresses)
- Stainless steel pins
- Optionally: Eucalan (a non-rinse fiber softener with Lanolin)
Start by filling your sink with cold or lukewarm water. Add the Eucalan to the sink if you use this. Place your shawl in the water, and let it soak for about 15 minutes. Next, spread out the towels on a flat surface. Take your shawl out of the sink, very carefully press out some water and place your shawl on top of the towels. Add another layer of towels on top, effectively making a towel-shawl sandwich. Roll up your towels with the shawl in between like a sushi roll. Gently press out the excess water, be careful not to stress the shawl. Remove the towels and place your damp shawl on the blocking board. Use the stainless steel pins to pin the shawl to the right dimensions and shape and allow it to dry naturally overnight. Remove the pins and enjoy your freshly blocked shawl.
You can practice this blocking method on your gauge square too!