Handmade: 'Yarn diet' winds down with trip to craft store

Jocelynn Brown
The Detroit News
Detroit News columnist Jocelynn Brown models her handmade full-length vest. Photos taken on Friday, September 14, 2018.

You may recall back in February, I went on a "yarn diet," a well-thought-out plan for not buying yarn until I reduced my stash, considerably. 

For several months, everything was going fine, as I shopped from bins of yarn stored in my closet to mostly knit and crochet scarves for local charities.

But then one Saturday afternoon, while out running errands, my car took me by surprise when it made a sudden turn into the parking lot of a Joann Fabric and Craft Store. Just minutes later, there I was standing in the middle of the yarn section, slightly confused and trying not to give in to temptation.

I noticed a bin filled with various discounted skeins, some of which really caught my attention. I figured if I buy yarn to knit for charity, I'm not really cheating on my diet -- Right? So, I gathered up an arm-full, and just as I walked a few steps toward the check-out counter, I noticed what appeared to be cakes of fine variegated mohair yarn with my name written all over them! O.K., you guessed it --  I cheated on my diet! However, I only purchased one, and the thought of cheating weighed on me -- "but not for long," said this hopeless yarnaholic!

Turns out, the yarn was Lion Brand's "Shawl in a Cake," and it was actually a blend of mostly cotton and acrylic, with a tiny bit of "other fiber content." Some of the fibers are finely frayed, which gives it the look of mohair. I used it to make Lion Brand's "Openwork Shawl," in their crochet pattern designed for the yarn. Working with it was such a delight. It's super soft, and the finished shawl/scarf has the fluid drape I love in a crocheted (or knitted) garment. 

The moment I wrapped the oblong-shaped shawl around my shoulders, I knew my "yarn diet" was over. I rushed out the following week and purchased more of my new favorite yarn! 

It seemed I was unable to stop crocheting the shawls. I was cranking out one after another. It was so relaxing. It became my new "fiber art therapy." Every day after work, I'd rush home to unwind with a ball of the yarn, finishing or starting yet another light and airy wrap. There was just one problem -- I only needed a couple in my wardrobe, so, I started giving them away to co-workers and friends. 

I, then, found myself wanting a slightly more challenging project for the yarn, so, I designed an "asymmetrical vest," using the same double-crochet stitch pattern as with the shawls. It's really easy to make. Just imagine an extra wide, oblong shawl with armholes. 

Now, when I consider the unused "Shawl in a Cake" yarn I have tucked away, and all the newly-purchased yarn for charity knitting/crocheting, my stash is even larger than when I started my yarn-reduction plan! I'd say, something went wonderfully wrong! My "yarn diet" became -- shall we say -- a "yarn buy it!"

'Asymmetrical Vest'

Level: intermediate

Estimated time: 16 hours

Supplies: 3 Lion Brand “Shawl in a Cake” yarn (featured color: metallic prism)

Tools: size J crochet hook, scissors, size G crochet hook (for working in loose ends)

Abbreviations: ch chain, st(s) stitch(es, sc single crochet, dc double crochet, sl st slip stitch, cont continue, rep repeat

Size: L/XL (can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing width of back, and, if needed, length of arm holes)

Finished measurements: approximately 28" wide by 72" inches long


Loosely ch 112 sts. Make dc in third st. 

Cont making a dc in every third st, or so, to end with 50 dc sts across. Turn work, and ch up three sts.

Then dc in every first row st. Turn fabric at end of row, and ch up 3 at start of next row. Note: count every ch up three as one dc st.

(After working three rows, lay fabric on flat surface. If it curves slightly, adjust number of sts by increasing or decreasing a few equal distance apart in next several rows to make straight.

Cont in pattern for 40 rows total.

*Then for first shoulder, ch up 3 at end, and dc 9 sts across (10 sts total). Turn, ch up 3, and rep for 4 more rows of 10 sts each. Cut yarn.

Tie yarn to opposite end, ch up 3 and dc 24 sts (25 total). Turn, ch up 3, and rep to make 4 more rows of 25 sts each.

Without cutting yarn, loosely ch 40 sts. Use two sl sts to secure/attach last ch st to nearest st in last row of shoulder piece, directly across.

Leaving about a 4-inch tail, cut yarn. Then tie end of yarn ball to outer side/edge with matching color. (If necessary, unwind yarn down to matching color.)

Cont in pattern, making 50 dc sts across entire piece, including ch sts (chain). Make dc about every third st across chain.

Then for back of vest, work 23 more rows of dc sts. Count dc sts to make sure number is same (50) across as opposite end.

To make second shoulder, rep instructions for first from *.

Cont in pattern for 40 more rows of dc sts. Again, count sts to make sure number is same (50) as that of chain row at opposite end.

Without cutting yarn, make a sc border around entire vest. Cut yarn. Make border around armholes. Work in loose ends.

Detroit News Columnist Jocelynn Brown is a longtime Metro Detroit crafter. You can reach her at (313) 222-2150, jbrown@detroitnews.com or facebook.com/DetroitNewsHandmade.