The Log Off Shawl Mystery Crochet A-long (MCAL) is an excellent way to use up lots of ends of yarn (stashbusting) or use mini skeins that you might have bought as part of a club or received in an advent.
Because it's harder to plan when you don't know exactly what the pattern entails I wanted to provide some additional advice.
The MCAL will work well with anything from 4ply (fingering) yarn to DK (light worsted) weight yarn but the amounts you need and the size of the finished shawl will vary based on what you use.
I can (and will) give you suggested hook sizes and yardages for the different weights but the best way to work these out is by making a small swatch. Its very quick I promise. And then you'll need to do a little multiplication to work out the dimensions and the yarn amounts you will need.
When I say best I do mean it because not all yarns are created equal and I discovered that just in my swatching to create the rough guides. It turned out that the finished size of my DK swatch on a 6mm hook gave me the same blocked size as my sport weight yarn I used for the project did on a 4.5mm hook.
So here are the suggested hook sizes yardages and finished sizes for the swatches I made in different yarns but do read on and do your own calculations if you want to be a bit more accurate:
4ply (fingering) yarn:
Suggest a total of 1300m yarn (around 350g)
Finished size: 40cm/16in x 123cm/48in*
(Calculations based on swatch made in Vicki Brown Standard Sock (4ply, 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon. 100g/425m))
DK (light worsted) weight yarn:
Suggest a total of 1600m yarn (around 700g)
Finished size 56cm/22in x 168cm/66in
(Calculations based on swatch made in Coop Knits Socks Yeah! DK (DK, 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon, 112m/50g))
Sport weight yarn:
Suggest a total of 1200m yarn (around 400g)
Finished size 50cm/20in x 152cm/60in
(Calculations based on swatch made in Stolen Stitches, Nua Sport (sport, 60% merino, 20% yak, 20% linen, 140m/50g))
*this is a little short for a wrap so I will suggest a way in the pattern to extend this but you will need additional yarn to do this.
A caveat on yarn amounts:
You can probably get away with a fair bit less yarn than recommended if you are using up small amounts, working with lots of different colours and not worried about symmetry. These are hopefully generous estimates that will allow you to work in the colours you want without running out.
Calculating the sizing more accurately:
To swatch follow the instructions (in UK terminology) below:
Row 1: Starting in 2nd ch from the hook, 15dc, miss 1 ch, 1dc, place marker in the dc just made, dc to end. 30sts.
Row 2: Ch1, 1dc in BLO of each dc to marker, missed marked stitch and next stitch, 1dc in BLO next stitch, move marker to stitch just worked, 1dc in BLO of each st to end. 28sts
Rows 3-15: As Row 2. 2sts.
Wash and block the swatch and check that the fabric is soft and drapey enough to be a shawl. If it seems too stiff then go up a hook size.
Once you have a swatch you are happy with, measure across the diagonal. The width of the shawl will be 4 times the diagonal, the length will be 12 times the diagonal.
You can weight the swatch to work out how much yarn you will need. In practice it will be a fair bit more than 48 times the weight (even though the sizing would suggest this) I'd allow 60-100 times the weight of the swatch.
What colours will work well:
Think of a patchwork quilt, there really are no rules. The simple stitches and movement of the fabric allow you to really play with yarn if you want to.
Bold contrast, subtle changes, solid colours, speckles and variegated yarns will all work beautifully.
Dividing up the yarn in colours:
For the sample I made in Daughter of a Shepherd Ram Jam Sport (Sport weight, 100% wool, 169m/50g) I worked in 4 colours: A to D. A to C I had 100g of and D I had 50g of. I used 80g of A, 82g of B, 75g of C and 40g of D. This is because I will never create a kit that doesn't have at least 15% leeway to avoid people running out of yarn.
If you are working with scraps of yarn or minis you can rotate the colours as you see fit in the pattern, using a different colour for each instance if you want to, or keep one or two of the colours as set and mix it up among the others.
You may even choose not to change colour where I do sometimes and work in larger blocks, especially if working with a variegated or colour change yarn in a section.
The pattern is designed like a patchwork and you can work with amounts as small as 5g or so if you wish.
Mixing yarn types:
Provided the yarn swatches to the same measurements after blocking you can mix brands and fibres freely. If in doubt you can stop and block to assess after adding a yarn into the pattern. If unsure or you don't want to keep stopping then keep to a similar style of yarn in brand, fibre and spin type.
If you haven't already grabbed your copy of the pattern yet (or you want to read a little bit more about the MCAL first. You can do so here.