CAL (Crochet Along) – What and Where is That?!


Picture is from ‘Frida’s Flowers’ by Jane Crow

There was a time, if you had a town of 500 women, about 490 of those women would be stay-at-home mothers, and about 450 of those women would practice a craft, like sewing, quilting, knitting or crocheting.  They would get together in ‘bees’ or ‘circles’ to share coffee, gossip and patterns.  Today, the inverse is more likely true.  With so many people holding full time jobs, and dealing with hectic family schedules, the few who still crochet have a hard time finding others who share their craft, and the time with which to meet them.  With the advent of the internet, those problems are solved.

Across the internet, you can find email groups, facebook groups, and websites devoted to bringing crafters together.  You can find links to some of these in my blog roll.  To further still the camaraderie, we now have Crochet Alongs (CALs), where thousands of people across the world all use the same pattern to create something beautiful.  Often these are mystery CALs, with just a bit of the pattern revealed at intervals.  This is a list of some of the CALS from April and May.  They are in no particular order, except I am participating in the 1st 4.

  • Frida’s Flowers by Jane Crow “The new project is called Frida’s Flowers Blanket is inspired by Mexican Folk Art and the colourful dresses worn by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.”
  • Mandala Madness by Helen Shrimpton “When Kimberly Slifer of the Official CCC Social Group on face book asked me to design a blanket/afghan for a CAL (crochet a-long) project for next year, I was, honoured, excited, chuffed to bits…. you get the idea! The ideas that went spinning through my head were crazy.  But I knew it had to be something very special, and so the idea of a HUGE Mandala started to form in my mind. As I started to work on the design I kept saying to myself “this is madness”… and so the name… Mandala Madness”
  • The Hekel Mandala by Annamarie Joubert-Esterhuizen  You need to request to join the facebook group, and the patterns are all available (in many languages) in the files of that group.
  • A Designers Potpourri by Sheri from The Country Willow, Cylinda from Crochet Memories, Cheryl from Homemade Hats by Cheryl, Donna from Articles of a Domestic Goddess and Rebeckah from Rebeckah’s Treasures.  Of these, thus far I am only doing the doily by Cylinda, Spring Pineapple Floral Lace.
  • Everything is Cool and Groovyghan by Heather Gibbs of KCACO-UK (Keep Calm and Crochet Along) “This is a mystery crochet-along for a rectangular mixed motif blanket where either blocks or rows will be introduced every two weeks. Lots of different shapes and stitches will be incorporated so it won’t get boring and there will be plenty of opportunity to play with colour!”
  • 2016 BAM CAL “Starting in January and ending in December we will have 3 squares each month, a main square , a filler square for those who want to do an extra 12” square each month  and a 6” square.”
  • Fran the Manghan Mystery CAL “The FRAN Mystery CAL will make what I hope you’ll agree is a manly/unisex blanket or throw. There are no flowers, circles or curves at all in the patterns – just straight lines and texture.”
  • Ali Crafts CAL “Mystery crochet along to make a granny square based blanket.”
  • DROPS Mystery Cal “The blanket will consist of a centre of granny squares surrounded by several types of edges with different patterns and stitches”
  • Garden Party Jacket   “If you’ve never made a garment before, this pattern is a great one to start with! You’ll no doubt be the sweetest flower in the bunch wearing this pretty.”
  • My Under the Sea Crochet Playbook  “3 x pages or 6 single pages (your choice) Appliques & crochet pieces to create 6 fun under the sea themed pages 1 x an adorable mermaid doll & accessories”
  • Mix and Match Crochet Along   (Note: The site for this blanket is in dutch, but there are translations for the pattern in English.)
  • Crochet Along to the Garden State by Julie Yeager  The pattern will be free and released over a period of about eight weeks here on the blog and also on Ravelry. (Note :  this becomes a paid pattern after the CAL)
  • Crochet Along 2016  “So I thought after less than a year of crochet under my belt whilst I love all these patterns other fabulous designers do I’d like to do my own and see whether I have learnt enough to design a simple crochet along.” (Note: blanket is a simple circle within a block)
  • 2016 Afghan Sampler   “What’s the best part about this blanket? It’s TOTALLY up to you how to crochet it! Crochet every block for a blanket that is perfect to snuggle under while watching your favorite television programs, crochet a few and make a blanket for your pets or kids, or crochet *two a week for the entire 52 weeks of the year* and create a beauty to adorn your king sized bed!”
  • Blanket of Secrets  (Note:  Variations on the granny block)  
  • Last Dance On the Beach  “As many of you know, this CAL was designed by the late Marinke Slump ( aka : Wink) from and was the final design she was working on at the time of her passing. In accordance with the wishes of Marinke’s family, 12 of her online friends and bloggers have completed her unfinished design to present this beautiful and sensitive CAL in Marinke’s memory and as a tribute to her work.”

I’ve not included CALs which aren’t in English, because I can’t read them sadly (I think I must move to The Netherlands – so much gorgeous Dutch work being done!), and I haven’t included paid patterns because I am not going to pay for something sight unseen.  I’ve started too many CALs and quit in the 3rd week because I just didn’t like them.  (Not that I mind – I just frog and move on to the next one!)

Next time I think I will give you links to some of the magnificent CALs from previous years.


Mandala Madness Part 5

There was no description on part 5 as to what this portion of the mandala signifies, but it sure is beautiful!  You can find the instructions here.

I didn’t need any tweaking on this part for thread, but do remember to keep your sc’s slightly looser, for easier access on those back loops and back posts.

I did decide to add a circle of russets slip stitches around the yellow circles, to define them better, and make them stand out.  One is complete in the picture.


Spring Pineapple Floral Lace Doily

Yes, I’m doing another CAL (Crochet Along), in thread.  A CAL is a group of people who are all working on the same crochet project over a period of time. Often the patterns are a mystery, with only a portion revealed over the course of the CAL.  This can be a problem if you invest 4 or 5 weeks and a goodly amount of material into something  and then find you don’t like the result – and oh yea, it has happened to me.  That is why I generally wait until the CAL is over to begin, or at least far enough along to get an idea of the pattern.  With the internet comes a means for hookers across the world to participate in these CALs, sharing their knowledge and helping each other over the trickier bits.

For this one, 5 designers got together and created 15 patterns to be crocheted over the course of 2016.  April’s is the first one I’ve chosen to participate in, and I’m loving it.

You can find links to the patterns here.

The April project that I am doing now is called Spring Pineapple Floral Lace Doily, designed by Cylinda Mathews (she is excellent!).  The link to download it is on her website, Crochet Memories.

If you read the pattern, the first part is pretty darn easy.  (I misread and portion and frogged twice!)  Here is a picture of my completed part 1.  Cylinda gives you the option of stopping at row 8 for a coaster, though I think I would have chosen row 7) or at row 9 for a jar topper.


Mandala Madness Part 4

About this part, Helen says:  “This week we change shape again, this time into an octagon. The octagon symbolises balance between the material, and the spiritual, between heart and mind. It is also thought to represent a vehicle for the advent of good health and good fortune.”

You can find the instructions here:

And my version – no tweaking this time, but a bit difficult for me to do in thread, as the sc’s are so very small.


Mandala Madness Part 2

You can find the instructions for Part 2 of Helen Shrimpton’s Mandala Madness CAL here.

I’ve done some tweaking – all that wonderful texture is perfect for an afghan,  but I hope to use this as an autumn table topper, so I’m revising some of the texture – in particular, the folding sc on this part.  (colors in the pic are dreadfully off; it’s been so gray down here.)


Mandala Madness Part 1

The amazing Kimberly Silfer (of the facebook group Official CCC Social Group, which I joined for the Sophie CAL) asked Helen Shrimpton (her site is Crystals and Crochet) to design an afghan for a CAL this year, Helen chose a mandala.    (for her description of what a mandala is, go here)

I started the gorgeous thing  in yarn, but I didn’t like the way it was looking (I am just not the best hooker in the world), so I switched to thread, and am loving it.