After a tiny shawl in laceweight with nupps I wanted something a bit more substantial. Meet Kassiani.
This is a lovely semi-circular shawl with a half-pi construction. That makes it a joy to knit, with each section providing an easy level of reward and a pleasing sense of progress before moving on to the next.
The factor that was new for me with this one was the yarn- it’s Triskelion Mona 4 ply, which is a blend of alpaca, silk and linen. Linen is a notoriously marmite fibre to work with. Some people love it for its drape and rustic heritage, but others report it can be a pain to work with, feeling papery and rough in the hands, even if after blocking it apparently turns soft and silky.
This blend with alpaca and silk was a great way of dipping my toe into the water of working with linen. The linen adds structure and heft to the alpaca, and compliments the drape and colour saturation of the silk. The result is a shawl that drapes well and that I’m confident will hold its shape and blocking for some time to come. The blend of fibres gives it a rustic, slightly tweedy effect that adds to the knitted result. This is definitely not a yarn to be using where you want a delicate result.
This was a two-skein pattern, so it makes a substantial shawl. The semi-circle is a practical shape that means it can double up as a scarf as well as a shawl.
Next up in the A-Z of socks is Firenze.
This is another brain-bending twisted stitch pattern from Rachel Coopey. It looks deceptively simple, but keeping track of the pattern was a real challenge. In particular, if you look at the top of the foot – which was fully charted – you will see a delightful interlocking diamond pattern in the centre of the foot. On the leg the twisted stitch cables are in more traditional columns.
The yarn is For The Love Of Yarn sockweight in a lovely merino and nylon blend. The colourway is Merlot. Because who doesn’t love yarn named after wine?! It’s a lovely mix of reds and clarets, with the odd splash of purple thrown in. It has pooled delightfully in places across the feet. This is a wonderful dyer that I found at a yarn show and will be looking out for again.
J has probably been the hardest project in this A to Z of shawls. For some reason I really didn’t connect with the pattern I chose. On the face of it, the June Bride Shawlette was exactly the palate-cleanser I needed after Ishneich – a simple, single colour, lace shawlette from a single ball of laceweight yarn, and with a bit of challenge from nupps in laceweight.
But, oh, I struggled.
I just couldn’t get excited by this project, and I actively avoided picking it up. Which is ridiculous for such a tiny project.
And tiny it is. A little wisp of a scarflette, that I definitely wouldn’t call a shawlette. Just enough to wrap round your neck, and that’s about it. Compare it to some of my other FOs shown on the same chair, in the same position, and you can see how tiny it is.
But on the other hand – nupps! In laceweight! Yes, I cheated and used a crochet hook to form them on the RS row. But that’s another new skill mastered, and I found them much easier in laceweight than I did in 4ply. So that’s a thing!
The pattern is by Lidia Tsymba. The yarn was a single skein of Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace (a solid, commercially dyed pure merino laceweight) that I picked up for about £3 in a John Lewis sale.
I was glad to finish this one. If only because it meant I could move on and start something else. Ah well.
I’ve been frustrated that this winter hasn’t been as cold as I would like. A good, sharp frost and a spell of freezing weather is the best excuse for knitwear I know. And handknitted socks are the most comforting thing in a cold snap – your feet get a custom made woolly hug. And if I have warm feet I am much less likely to feel the cold.
Next up in my A-Z of socks by Rachel Coopey is Eula. In classic Coop Knits style, these feature a mirrored twisted stitch design of branching cables and diamonds. After the plain lace of Decca it was great to get back to something with a bit more challenge to it.
The yarn is Swell Ewe Sock by Ginger’s Hand Dyed, an 80/20 merino/nylon blend. The colour is called Breakfast With Ginger – a gorgeous Tiffany blue that is gloriously cheerful. It’s slightly greener than is showing up in these pictures. I found two skeins of it in someone’s destash on eBay at a silly price. (which means I have one going spare if anyone wants to take it off my hands.) It’s a high twist yarn, which I’ve decided I’m not much of a fan of. I think I much prefer a traditional plied yarn – it feels nicer to work with and gives good stitch definition, even if a high twist yarn is supposedly harder wearing.
Time for another FO.
This is Ishneich. Pattern by Lucy Hague, part of her Celtic Cable Shawls collection.
This is another project that continues to push my knitting boundaries. I’ve tried once again to be a bit bolder with use of colour. This is a two-colour shawl, but this time it mixes two colours – one semi-solid, one variegated – rather than a colour with a neutral.
This is also a project with a new technique for me – closed loop cables. This is a technique perfect for creating Celtic-inspired knotwork like in this pattern. It’s definitely the trickiest set of charts I’ve ever worked with. Long chart repeats combined with cabling on both sides and a garter stitch background required a lot of concentration and faith in the pattern. Particuarly as to deliver the elegant sweeps in the cabling there is little predictability in the charts.
But I’m really delighted with how it’s come out. It’s a grown up shawl, big on texture rather than fussiness of lace. And the 4 ply yarn means it will eb snuggly and relatively robust.
The yarn is Qing Fibre Merino Single in Okinami (the semi-solid teal) and Elderwood (the variegated). Definitely a dyer worth looking at if you like super-saturated and sophisticated dyeing.
After the lovely, but interminable browns of my Imperator Curiosa socks, I wanted something much more cheerful – and a bit faster to knit.
This is Decca. As per the rules of this A-Z challenge, it’s my D pattern, designed by Rachel Coopey. The pattern is very simple, with a repeated lace panel on the front and back of the foot/leg, and plain panels of stocking stitch in between. Very quick to knit, and very easy to memorise.
The yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Sock, a 90% merino and 10% nylon blend. This is a brand that is highly sought after for colourful saturated dyeing, often with lots of speckles. This is one of the Potluck colourways – with some lovely spring pinks and greens, with flashes of orange along the way. It was the perfect antidote to all that brown. My one gripe is that it was quite a splitty yarn – and untwisted significantly during a long-tail cast on.
The plainer pattern for these socks means that it isn’t drowned out too much by the colour, or vice versa. It’s certainly making me feel much bolder about using colour in projects.
For H in my A to Z of shawls I’ve opted for Holyrood by Justyna Lorkowska. It’s a great casual shawl to throw on at the weekend for a bit of warmth and a pop of colour.
The pattern is a lovely mix of lace and texture, with multiple techniques on the go. It includes mosaic knitting, stripes, garter stitch, chevrons, lace and a wonderful textured rib. That gives it a lot of interest when you’re knitting, engaging you as you work and making you keen to get to the next section.
The yarn I used was Companion 4 ply from Third Vault Yarns. The purple is called Inara, and is one of the first skeins I ever bought from Lola. It’s a much more variegated finish than later skeins of Inara. The grey is Dragon Scales, which has subtle shadings of green and purple within it. The two work really well together.
I’m trying to get bolder with my colour pairings. Both of the two-colour shawls I’ve made as part of this project have included a neutral (grey) as one of the colours. The next step will be to use non-neutrals, and maybe more variegated skeins.
I admit it. I picked this pattern for my A-Z of Rachel Coopey socks, just so I could make a Mad Max: Fury Road pun.
But it also gave me the chance to use this brilliant steampunk-coloured yarn called Mazikeen, which perfectly matches the Mad Max colour palate of sandy desert browns. The shade was inspired by the character from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman books, but principally from that character’s appearance in the Lucifer tv show. In amongst the browns are little flashes of olive green, grey and even the odd purple hint too.
As you may be able to guess, this colourway is from Third Vault Yarns. It was originally done by Lola for a partnership with Rhapsodye yarns around Lucifer, but Lola has dyed a few more skeins for sale since. The base is her Librarian sock – my favourite BFL/nylon mix. I love it for socks for the way it takes the dye, gives crisp stitch definition and wears like iron.
The Curiosa pattern reminds me quite a bit of Alonzo. It features some of Rachel Coopey’s trademark twisted stitch designs over long pattern repeats. There are lots of angular lines weaving in ways that you don’t see in traditional cable patterns. There were a lot of charts to follow, and remembering which chart to do in which order was a bit of a feat. The pattern was originally released as an MKAL, so there are no pictures with the instructions to help either – you are knitting blind.
I have to confess, I was glad to finish knitting this pair of socks. Although Lola’s dyeing is beautiful, the unremitting brown combined with the complicated pattern made these a bit of a chore to knit.
The next in the A-Z of shawls is Glenallen.
Because I’m a glutton for punishment, this is another monster of a laceweight shawl. It took well over 900m of yarn, and has made a massive triangular shawl.
I loved the angular geometry of this design. It’s all diamonds and triangles, in a triangle shaped shawl. But it was not an easy one to knit. The charts were not at all intuitive to follow, and it needed quite a bit of care to make sure that the design flowed and followed. There is plenty of variation as the pattern develops, with each motif flowing into the next in a very pleasing way.
The yarn is some laceweight I’ve had in my stash for a while – Schoppel-Wolle 6 Karat in a shade called Rot Gewinnt. It works out in a heavy laceweight, and is a lovely variegated heavy laceweight yarn with a red base but flashes of green and purple throughout. If I have one quibble, it’s that this is a very splitty yarn that was at times a pain to knit with. I’m very glad there were no nupps in this pattern – I could see this yarn being a real pain for things like that. But it’s blocked beautifully, and really opened up to show the lace design.
The pattern is by Dee O’Keefe. I’ll certainly keep an eye out for more of her patterns.
Second in my Rachel Coopey A-Z of socks is Budleigh.
I love the mix here of the double cables with the snaking twisted stitches. The double cables are offset, giving a lovely slanted effect. And in one of the designer’s signature features, the socks are perfect mirrors of each other. They were very quick to knit too, with the first one taking just a week from start to finish.
The yarn is a skein I’ve had in stash for a while. It’s Artists Palette Smoothie Sock in a bright semi-solid pink. The yarn is a blend of 75% merino and 25% nylon. It’s incredibly soft and quite fine. I’ve been worried that the high merino content might make them prone to wear and felting, but they’ve been holding up very well so far, and the cheerful colour is just the thing on a dull day.