I am a big fan of MJ’s Off the Hook Designs and own most of her patterns. MJ is well known for her quick and bulky mermaid tails, shark blankets and dragons, all of which I have loved crocheting. Her patterns are easy to follow, work up very quickly and are well admired. Unfortunately now in Hong Kong, it’s summer and very very hot and so there isn’t much need for bulky blankets and so when MJ relesed her Mermaid Beach Bag Towel pattern, I downloaded it within minutes…….I am a little obsessed by her patterns but mostly I knew it was perfect for Hong Kong right now and people would love it.
I already knew that the pattern called f0r Bernat Home Maker yarn from MJ’s updates on Facebook and that I could order it at Deramores and have it delivered to Hong Kong. I also knew of a very similar yarn available from Iceyarns.com called Tube Cotton that comes in a big range of so many beautiful colours that would also work. My first customer chose 3 colours from the iceyarns range; mint green, light turquoise and lavender, mint green for the tail and light turquoise and lavender for the fin, which I think are perfect mermaid colours, just like a turquoise blue sea. I used 12 balls of the mint green and 7 balls each of the lavender and turquoise. These yarns come in packs of 8.
I planned on taking this project to Macau with me for my 6 day holiday and finish it there, but as soon as I started the pattern I knew that it was going to take a while. First of all, the yarn is thinner and calls for a much smaller hook than the regular mermaid tails and the pattern of close shells is more time consuming than the half double crochets of the regular mermaid. The pattern is still easy to follow, but is just a slow burner and takes patience. I am a very impatient crocheter and like things to work up quickly, mainly because I have so little time with work and the boys and so I think if I had to make it again, I would use a more simple stitch and avoid the shell pattern, although it does look gorgeous made up as you can see and is so worth the time. Each section is made up of 4 rows and the pattern calls for clusters of double crochets, single crochets and chains.
This tail I made was for a 90cm 3 year old girl. I followed the toddler pattern but instead of crocheting 12 repeats of rows 3-6, I crocheted 15 repeats. When I tested this size on my 100cm 3 year old, it fitted perfectly. The ice yarns tube cotton is a little thinner than the Bernat, but I still used a 9mm hook and the gauge worked out well.
I crocheted the tail in 2 strands of tube cotton, but still used the 9mm hook, this gave it a more bulky and stiff texture but I thought this would be good for the ‘bag’ element of the pattern. I think the end result worked out a little bigger than the measurements in the pattern for the toddler fin, but it didn’t look oversized, in fact it looked wonderful. The only problem was that when I came to sew the fin to the tail, it was a little larger and so I had a few issues getting it to fit right and had to take out the stitches a few times until I got it right. This is worth keeping in mind if you decide to do the same and you may want to add some extra width to the towel in the first instance. The fin was about 2 inches too wide.
For the finishing, I completed single crochets around the towel part of the tail as the pattern requires, only I used 2 strands of the tube cotton just like in the fin, so that I could create a consistency and flow with the fin colours. I love how this turned out as I originally thought that the fin without any of the base colour mint green wouldn’t work, but in fact with the border it worked really well. I also love how it makes a definite line up the back of the fin when the cocoon section is sewn together. This looks nice when the bag is made up.
For the cord, I used the 3 strands of yarn colours and a 10mm hook. This is also different to the original pattern, but I wanted the cord to match all of the colours of the whole tail. This made it quite difficult to crochet as the stitches were very tight, but the end result was lovely and the cord feels so sturdy and strong. I added wooden beads just as MJ did. My cord was only 25 inches long instead of 36 inches, for no reason other than I ran out of yarn! This means that the handle is shorter but it still fits over your shoulder nicely and it can be carried as a handbag.
Making up the bag, I found quite difficult at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. I attach the cord a little differently to the original pattern since it is shorter, see in the photo below.
I think you’ll agree that the overall outcome is pretty beautiful and very clever. The towel is soft and spongy to the touch and feels so light and airy. The yarn is absorbent and so it will work so well as a beach towel. The bag element means that it can be transported easily and also works as a cute accessory that kids and ladies will love. I’m pretty certain that this is going to be a head turner at the beach and at the pool.
If you decide to use this pattern then please do reference MJ’s Off The Hook Designs as it is Michelle who has done all of the very clever design and pattern work for this beautiful mermaid tail.