Being a handspinner and an indie textile dyer, I love making and using unconventional yarns. I was delighted when a friend introduced me to using straight, unspun wool roving to create finished pieces a while back, and have been playing around with different methods to use this roving in crochet.
You’ve probably seen the lovely super bulky knit blankets that have become a viral phenomenon. Artists like Meghan Shimek and Jacqui Fink have created some amazing works of art using huge swaths of wool and textiles. If you haven’t seen their work already, it’s worth taking a look for inspiration’s sake!
I decided to call this pattern Venus Shell, because the oversized star stitch reminds me of the shell in which Venus is depicted in the famous painting by Sandro Botticelli. You'll notice, though, that the stitch pattern I use is called the star stitch, so I'll refer to each "shell" as a star, for the sake of accuracy.
My friend Sarah from Mama Knows Luxury has helped to keep me supplied in both luxury yarns for dyeing, and merino roving in delicious pre-dyed colors for hand knitting and crocheting. To be technical, this is combed top, which means that all the fibers are better aligned with each other, making your rope of wool smoother and more durable than traditional roving. But most commercially prepared wool is commonly called roving, so that is the term I will use here.
For this pattern, I used about half a pound of Mama Knows Luxury 22 micron merino, pulled in half lengthwise for a thinner, more manageable yarn. It comes wound up in a ball, and it’s easiest, I find, to tie the ends of your two newly-formed strands together and wind it into one large ball.
• ½ lb merino or other natural fiber combed top or roving, divided in two, yielding a yarn about ¾ inch to 1 inch in diameter
• 40 mm crochet hook (I purchased mine from Mama Knows Luxury. They’re handmade in Canada from beautiful poplar wood)
1. Chain 21, join with a slip stitch to work in the round.
2. Chain 1, insert hook into next chain from hook, draw up loop and keep it on the hook. Continue inserting hook and drawing up loops through subsequent chains until you have a total of six (6) loops on your hook, including the original loop. This will mean you have used the first five chains. Yarn over and draw loop through all six loops on your hook. Chain one (1) to finish your star.
3. Insert hook into chain stitch at the top of your star, draw up a loop and keep it on your hook. Insert hook between the last two stitches in your last star (or shell, since we are making Venus’ shell) and draw up a loop, keeping it on your hook. Insert hook in the same chain from the foundation as your last stitch in the previous shell. Draw up a loop and keep it on your hook. This should give you four (4) total loops. Then insert and draw up loops through the next two chains, bringing your total to six (6) loops on your hook. Yarn over and draw loop through all six (6) loops. Chain one (1) to finish your star.
4. Repeat step 3 until you reach the end of your foundation chain. This should yield you eight (8) stars, if you started with a foundation chain of twenty-one (21). Join with a slip stitch into the chain stitch at the top of the first star, fasten off and weave in ends.
And there you have it! Be sure to treat your new cowl as you would a cashmere sweater. Wash it on the wool cycle in your front-loading washing machine, or simply give it a quick bath in gentle shampoo. Lay it flat to dry.
Venus Shell Cowl
• It’s easy to adjust this pattern in size by increasing or reducing your foundation chain by multiples of 2.
• I utilized the star stitch for this pattern, for which there are online YouTube tutorials, if my instructions don’t initially make sense.
• When you order your Mama Knows Luxury yarn, you’ll receive care instructions, as well as instructions for pulling your yarn in half to get the thinner diameter.
• I purchased the yarn and the crochet hook for this project with my own funds, and did not receive any compensation for the use of Mama Knows Luxury products in this pattern.
Mama Knows Luxury on Etsy
Venus Shell Cowl Pattern on Ravelry