Introduction: Seaweed Shawl
This is my first Instructables.
I’ve been branching out from cosplay and into more abstract/original costumes lately. This year, I created “Of Wrack and Ruin,” also known informally as the Sand-wych. I wanted everything to look organic, even though I would be using synthetic materials. Wearing real dried seaweed = smelly and stabby. Wearing fake seaweed made of yarn = comfier and cleaner. (Yes, I know seaweed and kelp are different.)
I took a cue from my sister, the epic Alexiscrafting, who knits and crochets her costumes from scratch, and decided to make the shawl out of yarn. This is NOT a crochet tutorial but a mad stringy science experiment.
So, if you also want to look like an eldritch creature that haunts the wrack line on the beach, or if you just want something for beach camouflage when you can’t bear to build another sand castle with the kiddos, read on!
The net: A thinner yarn, like sock or sport-weight. Avoid crochet thread, and anything that might easily fray, pill, or snap. It should be soft, as it will rest against your skin. I used about half a skein of Woollike, which is mercifully made of acrylic, not wool (allergies), but it stretched. A lot (see Step 6).
The seaweeds: A bucketload of other yarns. As seaweed and kelp are not always green, I included dark reds, various greens, browns, and even some blue. If you want to be accurate, gather some photos of real seaweed and kelp as your inspiration. If you want to use up all that novelty yarn in your stash—So shiny! So useless! Why is there only one skein?—aim for a mix of textures, thicknesses, glitter and matte, etc. This is the ULTIMATE stashbuster.
Starbella or sashay (designed for those ruffle scarfs)
Trellis (also known as ladder or ribbon yarn)
Pomp-a-doodle (that weird stringy thing with intermittent pompoms)
Acrylic worsted (cheaper is better)
Random notions and trims
Anything else that is stringlike and can be crocheted. I contemplated using unspooled VHS tape, but couldn’t sacrifice my beloved home movies.
The net: I found anything between a G and a K worked. You need this to be somewhat gappy in the chain spaces, but still have strong enough stitches so that the whole net doesn’t sag beneath the weight of the seaweed.
The seaweed: Anything goes. For thin yarns, I used a D or E. For thick yarns, I used an F or G.
A tapestry needle for sewing in loose ends.
A ribbon, in case the whole thing starts to sag, needle and sewing thread. The ribbon should match the color of your net yarn.
Optional: Patience, boring commutes on public transit, a cat-free household, a clothesline.
Step 1: Step 1: Cast Your Net
Measure your armspan from fingertip to fingertip.
Chain enough stitches to be 5-10 inches shorter than this span. Your piece will likely stretch.
Step 2: Step 2: Network
This is a basic, giant, gappy triangle shawl.
The widest part will be at the top and the pointy bit can reach your bum (recommended), calves (questionable), or feet (not recommended if you are a klutz like me).
First, single crochet back into every chain stitch.
Second, chain 2 at the end, turn work, and begin working back. I used a half-double crochet stitch (HDC in US terms), but the most important thing is to have a base layer that has spaces to work the seaweed through, but doesn’t sag too much. [The photo shows the general gauge you should aim for.]
Then, continue crocheting, decreasing every other row while contemplating that this is only your first step. Rue the day you learned crochet. (Alternatively, you may want to knit the net and all of the seaweed. Good luck.)
Step 3: Step 3: Snack Time
When you’ve finished the net, celebrate, but only briefly.
Might I suggest a nautical-themed snack?
Step 4: Step 4: Gather and Grow Your Weed(s)
Gather your seaweed yarns. Gloat briefly over your hoard like Smaug over gold.
Using smaller crochet hooks (D or E for finer yarns, F or G for thicker ones), crochet your seaweed. [The photo shows some of the hooks used: a C2, F5, H, and I.]
Wavy: Chain. Work back, alternating single crochet and 2 crochet stitches in one stitch. This will cause a slight ripple. Work back and forth until your piece is wide enough. Knot off, leaving 4 inch tail.
Corkscrew/Spiral: Chain. Cast on 3x more stitches than you’d expect. Single crochet 2 stitches into each stitch to cause a spiral. Knot off, leaving 4 inch tail. I found YouTube tutorials like this one helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhRKovSETKE.
Straight: Chain. Work back and forth. Knot off, leaving 4 inch tail.
No crochet: Is your yarn too pretty to scrunch up? Cut a piece 2x as long as you want the final length to be. Fold it in half. Take loop, pass through net, pass tails through this loop (hooking it like a lanyard cord).
Continue making pieces until you have blanketed every horizontal surface in your home. Or until you can cover the net at a reasonable density.
Step 5: Step 5: Tie It All Together
Stretch out the net with the broadest side at the top and the point at the bottom. If you don’t have a cat or dog, you may be able to do this on a table or the floor. I ended up clipping my net to a clothesline to keep it away from my household demon.
I recommend attaching your seaweed starting at the bottom (pointy bit). It will be easier to maneuver and to avoid gaps.
Using the tail of a piece of seaweed, loop the tail through a crocheted space (I chose to pass mine around the front post of a stitch), bring it back to the same side as the seaweed. Knot off. Weave in any loose ends.
Repeat all along one row. On the next row, stagger your seaweed strands so they fill in the gaps left by the strands below. Continue.
I recommend attaching seaweed to only one side of the shawl. [The photo shows how some strands are looped through.]
Step 6: Step 6: Stave Off Sagging
If your top band (the initial chain and single crochet back) is not stiff enough, and the whole shawl sags under the weight of the seaweed, handsew a ribbon to the inside (i.e., not seaweed covered side) of the net). Try to match the color to the ribbon to the color of your net yarn. [The photos show some sagging, and the solution: a ribbon hem at the top, on the "inside" of the shawl.]
Step 7: Step 7: Seaside Rendezvous
Wear it proudly. I did a beach photoshoot in which I learned many things:
1) Yarn is warm. This was not the best summer costume choice.
2) If I flop down and pull it over me, I look like a clump of seaweed. Great for social avoidance, dangerous if people have trucks on the beach.
3) Yarn acts like a broom. Be sure to remove any seaweed, dried leaves, driftwood, and crabs you may have accidentally swept up. Otherwise, your shawl will smell, defeating the whole point of this exercise.
[First and last photos were taken by the talented @mechnmoorephotography.]
Participated in the
Fiber Arts Contest