I’ve been crocheting since I was six. My grandmother taught me with an H-hook I still have, a skein of white Red Heart yarn, and no small amount of patience. I crocheted very casually for years, and then, when I moved out of my parents’ house for good at 21, I picked it up again. Yarn is cheaper than booze [most of the time] and doesn’t make you feel like a weirdo when you use it alone.
So, I’ve been crocheting steadily for a little over four years now. I’ve made skirts, tops, blankets, hats, scarves, a few more hats, and even some potholders. But I’ve never done more than vaguely attempt a shrug.
What’s a shrug, you ask? A shrug is somewhere between a shawl and a sweater. It has sleeves, the beginnings of a back, and no front. If you finished up high school in the aughts, you probably saw them paired with tube tops to get around dress code violations. Shrugs are an almost essential crochet project in this wave of the craft. They’re a great first project because they are simply rectangles that are then turned into tubes through simple seaming. You have to try pretty hard to mess up a shrug, and even if you manage it, the mistakes are easy to fix.
So why have I never made one? The simple answer is a lack of giving a crap. They’ve just never interested me in any big way. I worked in semi-professional dress offices for years, and all the shrug patterns I found were too casual, too loose, and too “I made it last night, can you tell?” looking to pass inspection. But something bit me yesterday, perhaps the knowledge that for the foreseeable future, I won’t have an office job dress code to answer to, and I decided to sit down and join the ranks of the crocheters with a shrug to their name.
I used a P-hook and Red Heart Light and Lofty. I measured the length of my arm from just below the elbow to the top of the curve on my shoulder, multiplied by two, then added the width of my back from shoulder-to-shoulder. I have always disliked shrugs that show an obvious lack of measurement for fit, and I wanted to make my first shrug right.
I think it looks pretty good, and I think a big part of that has to do with the fact that I did take two minutes to measure. I find that’s something crocheters lack; they don’t stop and think about their garment as a garment. Everything that goes on your body has to coincide with a measurement if you want it to look right. There are a few people who take that into consideration [Josi Hannon Madera of artofcrochet.com comes to mind], but by and large, crocheters take to their garment-making without bothering to consider how garments are made.
Check out some of the shrug patterns at crochetpatterncentral.com, and I think you’ll see my point.