Crocheting the Vintage Circular Shrug – Part 1

An Intriguing Crochet Shrug Pattern

I’ve been working on the vintage Circular Crochet Shrug that I talked about in a previous post. I mentioned how intrigued I was by the way in which it is constructed and figured it would be fairly simple to make.

The shrug consists of two halves and is crocheted in the round, from the bottom of the sleeve up to the beginning of the shoulder, At this point the rounds are gradually increased to create a shoulder and then more increases are added to create one half of the shrug from and back.

I’ve finished crocheting the first half of the vintage circular shrug

Hopefully the above photo of the first half of the shrug I’ve crocheted conveys how this it  is worked.

Crochet Pattern Peculiarities

The pattern has interesting “peculiarities” that you should be aware of if you decide to make one for yourself.

Pattern Error

The most important thing to mention is that the pattern has an error. Right after Round 2, the instruction given is:

Repeat Round 1 17 times (32 dc)

Since Round 1 is crocheted on the foundation  chain, you can’t repeat it, so it should read “Repeat Round 2” which increases the number of stitches in the round by one. That’s the only way you’re going to get 32 dc at the end of the 17th repeat.

The error also means that the numbering of rounds for the remainder of the pattern is off (e.g., Round 19 is actually Round 20); but I simply pretend that Round 2 is Round 1 and continue following the pattern as is.

Discontinued Yarn

The pattern calls for a yarn that was probably discontinued ages ago, namely Bucilla Meringue. It is 80% mohair, 15% acrylic, and 5% wool, and a one-ounce ball contains 95 yards. And because the gauge is 5 stitches per inch on size 5 knitting needles, I’m think it is probably a DK weight yarn, But the nap in the mohair could very well make it a light, worsted-weight yarn.

What puzzles me is that the shrug only requires six one-ounce balls to complete. I tried crocheting the shrug with two strands of Cascade Pima Tensel, thinking the Bucilla was a worsted weight yarn.  I thought surely eight 3.5-ounce, 109-yard skeins of yarn would be more than enough to complete the shrug. But by the time I was done crocheting the first half, it was clear I didn’t have enough yarn to do the second half.

There’s a photo of the Bucilla Meringue on Flickr  that leads me to believe this is around a DK weight yarn, so my initial attempts at trying to create a worsted weight yarn from the Cascade Pima Tensel because the pattern calls for a K hook were misguided. I’m using some Red Heart Super Saver from my stash to work up this shrug, but I’m pretty sure I’ll use most of the 14 ounces (two skeins = 728 yards) I have available.

So, if you’re going to crochet this shrug, substitute a yarn that comes as close as possible to the Bucilla Meringue. But honestly, six ounces of a Bucilla-like yarn (570 yards) still doesn’t seem like enough, so you may want to buy a skein or two more just to be safe.

Fits Sizes 8 to 14

I’m not sure sizes 8 to 14 back when this pattern was originally published (and I don’t know when that was) are the same as today’s sizes 8 to 14. Perhaps you can tell from the photo when this pattern was published. I’d say at least the 70s, maybe even earlier. I’m thinking women back then were smaller than they are today, and the sizing for this shrug may be smaller than one would expect.

The fit of the first half that I’ve crocheted is snug, but perhaps that’s how it’s supposed to fit. The only finished measurement the pattern gives is from the beginning of the sleeve to the nect (24”); it would be nice to have had a bust measurement, but I guess I’ll have to finish it to determine how snug the fit is going to be for my size 14-16 frame.

Double Crochet (dc) Pattern Stitch

Based on the photo, I thought for sure this shrug used a filet crochet stitch (1 dc, ch 1), but instead, it’s straight double crochet, except the double crochets are made in between the stitches of the previous round instead of at the top of the stitch Crocheting between the stitches is what creates the filet-crochet effect. The pattern also tells you to make your stitches ¾” long. This somewhat elongated double crochet stitch is a must if you’re going to match the gauge of six rows per 4”.

Marking the Underarm and Shoulder

Another thing that threw me when I started following the pattern instructions was the need to place a yarn marker at the underarm and shoulder seams (well, where seams would be if the shrug wasn’t being crocheted in the round). I’m used to using stitch markers, a little convenience that probably hadn’t been invented when this pattern was first published, so I had to figure how to “place” these yarn markers.

Yarn marking sleeve underarm
Weaving yarn in and out of “ch-3, dc” at the beginning of each round
Green yarn marker for shoulder “seam”

I decided to cut a long piece of yarn and weave it in and out of the rows as I crocheted them. For the underarm yarn marker, I weaved it in and out of the first “ch-3, dc” that begins the round. For the shoulder, half way around, I weaved it in out of the dc increase that is worked at this point in the round.

You can always use stitch markers (the ones that close like a safety pin) and simply move them up as you work on a new round.

You can find Part 2 here.

I've been crocheting for over 40 years and blogging since 2004 - two of my favorite things in the world to do besides walking the beaches of windward Oahu, Hawaii.

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