My first experience of a CAL (crochet-a-long) was in 2015. I’d not been crocheting for long and had finally mastered the granny square. I was digesting every crochet magazine going and I thought I was ready to move on to a more luxurious yarn and a new challenge.
I’d been lured by Inside Crochet magazine. The image was of a colourful geometric blanket designed by Annelies Baes (Vicarno), draping from a suitcase. Only a tempting glimpse of it was showing as it was a ‘Mystery CAL’, meaning that the pattern details would gradually be released over Issues 73-75.
I choose Merino Soft to make my blanket and limited the colour palette by choosing shades of blue, green, grey and yellow.
After several bouts of mistakes and unravelling, I completed my motifs from the first issue. Unfortunately, they were very irregular and when I realised what a lot of sewing in and sewing up there would be, I didn’t have the inclination to start again, or continue with a wonky blanket.
Esther from ‘It’s all In A Nutshell’ wrote a great blog post about making a version of the same blanket in Scheepjes Colour Crafter, with lovely photos of how fabulous the finished blanket should look. Meanwhile I stitched up what I had for the cat – who can take it or leave it.
There were a few things I’ve learned about CALs along the way, besides the new stitches. If I could advise my beginner self now, I wouldn’t recommend a mystery CAL. I’d want to see the whole finished item first to make sure it made my heart sing, so that I’d still be motivated to carry on when I inevitably made mistakes. Also I’d wait a month or two after release to make sure any pattern issues and errata are resolved. This takes willpower though! It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement when a new one is released. If I couldn’t wait, I would definitely join an online group or forum for the CAL. There are so many friendly folk out there willing to give advice and support, along with tips and videos for when you get stuck.
Licking my wounds and with plenty of yarn left, I reverted to granny squares for a bit. Confidence restored, I remembered that I had liked one of the stitches in particular on the CAL. I decided to make a little pram blanket using the stitch in stripes alternating with grey.
Then I tried a new stitch on the border. Do you like the little hearts? Very appropriate for today!
This morning the story has a very happy ending when I received the most beautiful photo of the very contented looking 4-day-old recipient. Meet baby Eleanor!