What is it about the yarn displays on the shelves of your local yarn shop or mega craft store that urges you to select a particular skein? If you have a pattern in mind, you are looking for the color, weight, and texture that will transform yarns and yards of fiber into a garment or accessory. At other times it is the yarn itself that excites you with the possibilities of your creation. When I first saw Shawl in a Ball
by Lion Brand, I was intrigued at the claim on the label that I could produce an entire shawl from just one of their skeins of yarn. The only way to verify the claim was to actually crochet or knit a shawl with this brand. I selected Soothing Blue which would be perfect with my jeans jacket or denim skirt and Restful Rainbow because it just looked like fun.
There are several details that I noticed about this yarn. Lion Brand classifies the fiber as a #4, which is a worsted weight. Although this varigated yarn changes thickness at times, it seems more like a #3 (DK) than a #4 (Worsted). This distinction does not prevent the crafter from producing a lovely garment that drapes easily. The flow of colors is gradual and beautiful. A 100% cotton slub runs throughout the yarn. Shawl in a Ball is 58% cotton, 39% acrylic, and 3% other fibers. Each package is 5.30 oz. and contains 518 yards of yarn. I understand that Lion Brand has come out with newer skeins that contain metallics. Although these colors are available online, they were not available at the store when I made my initial purchase. I was concerned that the textured yarn would be difficult to frog if mistakes were made. I found that if I did not crochet too tightly, this did not prove to be a problem. However, since the yarn is so textured, it is essential to crochet loosely. Otherwise, It is impossible to fit the crochet hook into the a stitch when making the next row.
I was originally drawn to the yarn because of the claim that I could produce a complete shawl with one skein. Having created numerous shawls with numerous yarns and numerous patterns, I was dubious to say the least. When I logged onto the website, I found a .pattern called, Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball, Openwork Shawl (#L50239). There are several You Tube Videos that show the crocheter how to make the open work pattern. In the picture that accompanied the pattern, the open work piece draped easily. However, when I read the specs, I found that the length would be about 48 inches. The model must have been a very slender lady. For me those dimensions would be a scarf or shawlette. Still, I started the project to see how far my crocheting would take me.
As I reached the end of the skein, I knew that I would have to go back to the store to buy another. I hoped that there would still be one more on the shelf. With more than half of the shawl completed, I hoped that I would be able to finish the shawl and was was lucky to find another skein. This time I wound the yarn from the skein into a ball before I attached the yarn to the WIP. The Shawl in a Ball skein is extremely loose. As the crocheter or knitter works, large sections of the looped yarn come away. If you are working from your knitting bag, there is a tendency for the yarn to tangle and knot. I had to unknot the yarn several times when I was working with the first skein. Once I solved the tangling problem, I was relieved to continue crocheting without worrying about knotting the yarn. To produce a rectangular crocheted open work shawl that was 63 inches x 15 inches, I needed more than half of the second skein.
The finished shawl is warm enough to cover the shoulders on a brisk spring day or in an air conditioned room. It will be an attractive accent over a jeans jacket in the autumn. While I was pleased with the finished shawl, I did not always enjoy the process of making it. Although, the open work stitches should have been easy to keep track of, I frequently found myself, adding or losing a stitch. After frogging several rows multiple times, I made myself count the stitches after each row.
A Shawl in a Ball is also for knitters. The Restful Rainbow skein makes a lovely semi-circle with stock-in-net, yarn overs, and garter striped bands. The knitting pattern is Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball, Easy Half Circle Shawl (#L50258). The pattern is available as a free download from the Lion Brand website. The shawl begins at the center back with a small rectangle garter stitch. As the shawl grows larger, a circular needle is needed to accommodate the increasing number of stitches. A garter stitch border is worked on the first and last 3 stitches of the piece.
As the knitter proceeds through the various sections, the instructions tell the knitter to knit on the right side and purl on the wrong side. However, there are some different instructions for the increase rows. I found it easier to write down the number of each row for each section. Then I crossed off the row when completed. In this way I did not lose track of my rows. By the time I was knitting the bottom border with a garter stitch, I had produced the rounded, semi-circular shape.
The only change I made in following the directions was to use a #10 knitting needle instead of a #8. I wanted to produce a shawl that was larger and with more drape . The finished piece measured 59 inches x 23 inches when blocked. I am 5'7", and the stated measurement of 46 inches wide and 22 inches deep was too small. Even though I used the larger needle I was able to complete the knitted Shawl in a Ball with one skein, as knitting requires less yardage than crocheting for a shawl of the same size.
As I modeled the shawls in front of my tall mirror in the front hall I felt a growing sense of excitement at my achievement. I arranged the Soothing Blue Crocheted Open Work Shawl shall over my jeans jacket in various poses. Then a took off the jacket to see how the shawl would look as a light cover up over a simple white T. The Knitted Semi-circle Restful Rainbow Shawl was just as playful as I had imagined. I had met my Shawl in a Ball challenge to produce two multi-hued attractive pieces. In terms of style and function my efforts had been rewarded.
In the title to this post I asked, "Can you really crochet or knit a shawl from a ball of yarn. Here the results were mixed. The crocheted shawl required most of a second skein to produce the desired results. However, the knitted shawl validated Lion Brand's claim. The reviewers from Joann.com describe this yarn as "a slightly brushed, self-striping yarn in luminous sheen." My fashionable shawls brought out the best features of this yarn. Lion Brand compares the feel of the finished pieces to silk mohair. The open work crochet shawl was slightly rougher because of the stitching. However, the knitted semicircular shawl was soft and luscious to touch.
An added bonus is that these lightweight yarns is that they can easily be transported anywhere. When on vacation in Maine, I knitted the semi-circular shawl as I sat on the rocks on the top of Otter Cliffs, waiting for my family to finish scaling the bolder path below. The pieces kept me company in the campground and at the end of the Wonderland trail by the ocean. A few days after returning home, I was able to block both shawls.
So I leave it to you, my readers, to examine the photos to decide if you would want to produce a shawl from Shawl in a Ball. For those of you who want to crochet or knit with this material, Lion Brand publishes several patterns, picture tutorials, and You Tube Videos. If you have already made a Shawl from a Ball or if you want to take on the challenge, please share your experiences and photos.