Crocheted Irish Cloak

Many years ago when I was still a teenager, my grandma came back from a trip to Ireland with a beautiful green wool cloak.  It was absolutely gorgeous in forest green knit with plenty of swing and drape, thigh-length, and an attached scarf that doubled as a hood.  I fell in love with that thing in the span of two seconds, and I remember oohing and ahhing over it with my mom, laying it out to see how it was made, analyzing all the loveliness.  I swore I was going to make one for myself someday, but I don’t knit, so at the time that seemed off limits.  A couple of years later, I made a similar cloak out of felted wool, but that never seemed quite the same.  It didn’t have the squishiness or the texture.

Fast forward a bunch of years, and that cloak was still in the back of my mind, wanting to be brought into reality.  It had been so very long that many of the details eluded me.  But when I wanted to make something special for Kaelyn for Christmas, it popped to the surface.  I decided I would make her a version of the Irish cloak I had so adored.

Thus began the experimentation.  I wanted to capture the lovely simplicity of the knit look, but that’s not easy to do when you aren’t knitting.  I thought of the waistcoat stitch aka knit stitch, but that creates a fabric that’s dense and stiff, and completely at odds with the flowiness I was after.  Tunisian crochet to the rescue.  The Tunisian knit stitch was perfect for the job because it creates a springy, stretchy fabric that has very nice drape.  And I have to admit, I am one of those crocheters in the “love it” camp when it comes to Tunisian.  There is nothing about Tunisian crochet that I don’t adore (or at least if there is, I haven’t found it yet).  So I jumped in and began trying to figure out how to work the pattern in the Tunisian knit stitch.

At its most basic, the pattern is a split circle with built-in sleeves.  The split becomes the front opening.  But working those circle increases in a way that won’t leave weird “seams” in funny, lopsided places or unevenly extend the open sides was more challenging than expected.  What I ended up with was more of a split hexagon.

I wanted this cloak to be super cozy and warm.  I used Wool of the Andes 100% wool in worsted weight from Knitpicks.  I got bare wool and dyed it myself, because I wanted to get the colors right (Kaelyn loves turquoise that tends more to the green side).  Also, I wanted to achieve a gradient blend, which did not end up being quite as dramatic as I’d hoped for, but it mostly worked out.

Originally, I added the scarf/hood to the cloak, but I ended up taking it off because overall the garment was really heavy.  (She still loves it.)  I frogged the scarf and remade it into a cowl, which I will post soon as well.  In the near future, I’ll be posting the free pattern for this cloak as well as version #2, which uses a different weight yarn and makes some improvements, including a hood.  🙂

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