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Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Armhole Shaping and Blocking!

April 22nd, 2010

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Hope you have all had a great week of crocheting! It’s been great to see so many of you active in the comments and in the Ravelry group — this is the beauty of a crochet-along for sure! I’ve certainly made progress this week – the body length is done and it’s time to talk armhole shaping. The beauty of this pattern is that the shaping is very minimal: the construction is like that of a modified drop shoulder — there is a slight inset for the the sleeve, but without the complicated sleeve cap construction of a full set-in sleeve.

The shaping is accomplished by switching back to working in parts: right front, back and left front worked separately, then later seamed at the top for the shoulders. By doing this, you are leaving a slight inset section on each side, visible in the pattern schematic. The main thing to be aware of is that for the fronts you are maintaining the 5 hdc cluster at the center edge, but only ch-1 spaces on the edge that the sleeve will be worked from. The back no longer has this cluster at all and is only composed of the ch-1 space stitches. This is because later the sleeves will be worked off of these edges (armhole opening) so there is very minimal finishing to be done!

For clarification on the right and left fronts: After row 1, the pattern just says “continue in established pattern” which can feel a little vague given that this is a whole new section. BUT what they mean is what I explained above about the 5 hdc clusters at the inside edge only and is accomplished by working row 1 of the right front followed by row 1 of the left front, then repeating. Written out for the right front:

Row 1 (RS): Ch 2, turn, sk first hds, hdc in next 4 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * 10 (12, 14) more times

Row 2 (WS): Ch 2, hdc in same sp, *ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in next ch-1 sp; rep from * across to last 5 hdc, ch 1, sk 1 hdc, hdc in last 4 hdc, hdc in top of turning ch.

Rep these 2 rows until fronts measure 11 (12, 13) in from beginning of armhole shaping.

The same applies to the Left Front, only starting with row 2. Hope this helps clear up the confusion of continuing in established pattern!

Having finished this section I’m ready to sew the shoulder seam and move on to the sleeves – but I’m choosing to pause and block the body of the sweater at this point. Why? Well for starters, it’s going to be easier to lay the cardi out to dry at this point, because all pieces can be laid flat without overlap since the shoulders aren’t closed up yet, allowing it to dry much faster. It’s also a good idea to block before seaming in general, so you have all the pieces to their correct size based on the schematic and your stitches nice and even.

To block, I soaked my sweater in a sink full of lukewarm water and fiber wash for about 15 minutes, then rolled it gently in a towel to remove the excess water.

I then used blocking wires along the top and edges of the sweater and pinned it into place on my blocking board, using a tape measure to make the pieces match the size of the schematic, then let it dry! Cotton takes some time to dry, so I have to be patient before I can move on to seaming, but it will be worth the wait. I’m excited to see how the ch-1 space pattern opens up with blocking.

Don’t have blocking wires or blocking mats? You can easily use pins (T-pins work the best) and pin into folded towels or carpeting: any surface you can pin into will work, just take the moisture into account.

Close up of space under the armhole

You can also steam block instead of the wet blocking procedure I did, I just don’t have a steamer to use personally. If you use the steam setting on your iron, be VERY SURE not to press the iron to your fabric! You never want to iron your crochet fabric because it flattens the yarn and stitches beyond the point of rescue! And please take into account the fiber content of your yarn when choosing a blocking method: acrylic doesn’t take too kindly to high heat so be careful if you use steam not to melt it – wet blocking is a better option. And there are some who say acrylic can’t be blocked, but it’s not true! I think it’s always worth the time to block your pieces to even out stitch tension and get the best look out of open-work patterns like this one.

I’ll see you next week when my sweater is dry from blocking and ready to move on to seaming and sleeves!

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  • Ruby

    On row #4 it says rep to the last 3 hdc. do you still have 5 hdc at the end of the row? The 22 stitches is that counting across the whole row?

    Kendra says: It will still be 5 hdc at the end, because you are working those last 4 hdcs directly after another hdc that is at the end of the repeat you are following. I hope that makes sense — let me know if you need more help.

  • Ruby White

    Kendra I have the right amount of stitches, but when I get to row #4 I lose about 3 stitches. I end up with about 19?

  • Mary Jo

    I’m going to try to make this for winter as a lighter coverup for work.

  • Christine B.

    Well, I found some time to work on my sweater. I have a few inches beyond the joining of the three pieces. I made a slight alteration to the pattern as I didn’t like the look of where the slit ended. I replaced two of the ch 1′s with hdc so that there are five hdc centered over the top of each slit. I think it helps finish off the 5 hdc edging on either side of the slit. I’m enjoying how it is coming together so far and am pleased with the feel of the yarn I chose (Simply soft in summer peach) although I realize that it will probably not hold its shaping very well, but after all, it is just a swimsuit cover up and the yarn was very inexpensive (and I like the shine). Got to go.

  • Ruby White

    In my post #2 I guess I should have said 19 hdc instead of stitches. Any way I found my mistake, so I don’t need any help. I guess I knit more than I crochet. Thank

    Kendra says: Glad you figured it out! Sorry for my delayed response, but let me know if anything else comes up :)

  • Patti

    Christine, I did the same thing. I have a cluster of hdc’s going up the sides.

  • Joyce T

    i have a question? i just finished the body and i was wondering about the 20 inches. is that just for the body or is it the body, back, left and right sides? this is what i have have. the body is 20 inches and the whole project (body, back, right and left sides) so far is 27 inches. thanks for your help.

    Kendra says: Great question! The intention is that you work to a total of 20 inches for the cardi as a whole so far, but if you are happy with a length of 27 inches instead, by all means keep it! If you look at the schematic it may be more clear to you: 7 inches initially, 13 more after the join (for a total of 20 inches) and 11, 12, or 13 inches more for the armholes. In the end, it will be between 31-33 inches long.

  • Aunt Ginny

    I am making the large size, and on the armhole right front I should have 13 ch-1 spaces. On the 3rd row, ending with hdc in last ch-1 sp,I only have 12 ch-1 spaces. Is that correct? I end the row in the ch-1 sp, and not in the beg ch-2? The inside edge is uneven?

    Kendra says: You should have 13 ch-1 spaces across on every row, so I’m not sure how you lost one. Double-check that you are working in the right spaces at the beginning perhaps? You are correct, however, that you only work in the end hdc and not the beginning ch-2, since they are technically worked in the same stitch and count as only one. Although this does make it slightly uneven on that side, it is where you will be working the sleeve off of so you won’t see it.

  • DeMerse

    I don’t have carpet in my house and have been looking for a surface to use for blocking. I haven’t found much to choose from online (and what there is seems a little spendy). Does anyone have a suggestion on a cheaper solution?
    Thanks!

    Zontee says: Hi DeMerse, we often suggest that you go out to your local craft store or office supply store and buy some foam core boards and cover them with cotton fabric (glue/tape/staple it down) to help absorb the excess water. If you make a few, you can lay them out next to each other for bigger projects or use only one for smaller projects. It’s an easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project. Or like Kendra said, you can use towels laid out.

  • Linda from Pittsburgh

    DeMerse, I got some blocking materials from Knit Picks that weren’t too “spendy.” But if you have a spare table, you can put down a layer of plastic (even a clean garbage bag will work) then a couple layers of towels. You can do the same thing with a spare bed. You can use plastic-protected heavy books, bricks or rocks (or any small heavy object) to hold the sides in place. This is what I used to do before I had the blocking squares!

  • Crystal A.

    This is my first sweater. I want to block it like Kendra did. What should the measurements be for the size small. The schematic is confusing and I need help.

    Zontee says: Hi Crystal, the smallest number in each sequence of the schematic measurements will be the one for the small size. Add the lengths at the right for the height of your blocked item (7+13+11 inches for the small, or 31 inches high) and use the number under the oval (which represents the measurement all the way around the body 38 1/2) for the width if you’re laying the piece unfolded and flat out like Kendra.

  • Pingback: Beach Cardi Crochet-Along: Shoulder Seams and Sleeves in the Round | Lion Brand Notebook

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  • Luanne

    I didn’t get in on the crochet along, but I was wondering if this pattern is available for me to work on my own? Where would I find it?

    Zontee says: Hi Luanne, it’s a free pattern on LionBrand.com — just type “beach cardi” into the search box there or click here to go directly to it. (Please note: you must be signed into LionBrand.com to access patterns.)

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