Shell pattern shawl

As the mother of three and grandmother of four lively kids, my daughter is never at a loss to find some kind of absorbing activity to distract a bored and wandering mind. That ability she also applies to me, so when I was casting around for something to occupy me while listening to podcasts in the evening during our recent holiday, she generously presented me with several skeins of a beautiful soft yarn, Drops Lace. A light, very fine mixture of baby alpaca and mulberry silk, in pale pink and violet, it felt like gossamer. I caressed and cuddled it for a while, wondering what it wanted to become, then took a small sized crochet needle and began to cast on.

I wasn’t sure what I was making, and after several rows of mesh it was clear it wasn’t working. I unravelled it and started again with the yarn doubled, one of each colour. I liked the colour effect but the small-sized crochet hook made the stitch fiddly and the mesh pattern was not at all satisfying. It kept me busy for a few hours, though, and unravelling the fine yarn was even more absorbing than the crocheting so my daughter was able to get on with her knitting in peace.

When I got back home again after the holiday, I fished out my unsatisfactory work and carefully undid it all yet again. The Internet (Jonna Martinez’s youtube tutorial at had revealed a stitch I thought might suit this delicate yarn, a variation on a shell stitch, softer and more feminine than the fishnet pattern, and as I had several kilometres of yarn I was hopeful that there might be enough to make a small shawl.  There was. And even some left over.

Another ingenious idea popped up here on youtube. I love Kristin’s facial expressions as she demonstrates her method, she’s having such fun. I wish I had seen that before I spent so many hours winding up my little balls of yarn, as fine yarn tends to stick to itself and tie itself in knots. But maybe next time.

This time I used a size 4 hook instead of a size 2, which made the work easier. I had three skeins of pink and two of violet, so I used two pink threads to one violet for the main body of the work, then worked four rows of double-thread pink, followed by two pink threads and one violet. I realised I was now running out of pink so swapped to two of violet and one pink, then finally finished off with double-thread violet, which gave a nice shaded effect towards the edge.


The pattern needs a bit of concentration at first, but isn’t really difficult and of course repetition makes it automatic after a while. For me, that’s dangerous as I then lose count and make silly mistakes, but I caught and remedied most of them. I console myself that in Islamic art, there’s always a deliberate mistake because only God can create perfection. Who’s going to notice, anyway? My shawl is far from perfect, but I think the yarn is happy in this form.

10 thoughts on “Shell pattern shawl

  1. Like you Catherine I picked up a ball of very soft variagated wool, white through to light greys and finally to dark grey. A free pattern of a versatile shawl came with it. I have lots of knitting experience but this pattern was a beast. I undid it four times and then decided to do the whole lot in knit stitch. I M not impressed, I may start again! It actually may be better crouched. Your finished version is a triumph, I couldn’t possibly match that. Well done 👌☺️

  2. That sounds like the wool I used for my “cobweb” cardigan and shawl last year ( )- I found the zigzag or ripple very pleasing with the variegated effect.
    But I’m easily bored – I was probably ADD as a child, but of course that diagnosis hadn’t been invented in those days. I like something intricate that I can concentrate on and I have to resist the temptation to vary stitches, patterns and colours – my daughter was VERY strict with me when I was making the blue lap rug shown at the end of this post ( as I was finding it too monotonous – she kept reminding me that it was for her, so it had to be to HER liking!
    I satisfied that particular foible in my shell shawl by varying the combinations of yarn colours, i.e. 2 pinks and 1 violet, 2 pinks, 1 pink and 2 violets, 2 violets, so it looks variegated. I must say that the baby alpaca and silk mixture has a gorgeous feel.

  3. I am blown away by those who knit, crochet and otherwise make beautiful things. I have a daughter, who when she isn’t working, is knitting or crocheting. She must have inherited this from her grandma, certainly not from her mother; but I love watching her work and seeing the finished articles.

    • We seem to have a needlework gene – dressmaking, embroidery, tapestry, knitting, crochet etc. – that I can trace over at least 7 generations of the women in the family, and seems to be thriving!

  4. It is lovely indeed! I really applaud your tenacity. To keep pulling apart the false starts without throwing the whole thing in the rubbish shows enormous fortitude. But what you came up with is beautiful. Now…w/o access to the collective genius of YouTube, what do you suppose that yarn might have become? 😉

    • Thank you, Linda. Good question! I would never have binned that yarn, much too precious, but if it’s used and undone too many times it gets fatigued. It was called “Lace” and it demanded a lacy pattern , but w/o inspiration and instruction from the Internet, I would have had to do something much simpler and less satisfactory.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s