FO: Decca

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.

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FO: Holyrood

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.

 

FO: Glenallen

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.

 

FO: Ficus

After the epic project that was Evenstar, I needed to follow up with something quick and simple to cleanse my knitting palette.

Ficus was one of those brilliant one-skein projects, perfect for that special skein of 4-ply yarn and super-quick to knit.  It’s a triangular top-down shawl that begins with a garter tab cast on, has a panel of stocking stitch and a simple leaf lace border.

I’m trying to be a bit more adventurous with yarn, using variegated skeins more in my work.  Here I used a merino/silk/yak blend from Nimu yarns.  This was from her summer yarn club in 2016, and it has a lovely mix of autumnal shades.  I’ve not yak or a yak blend before, but it has a lovely drape and softness.

I’m always really nervous of variegated yarns pooling, and a top down triangle is a good way of breaking up regular pooling patterns because of the stitch count changing each row.  You get the joy of the colours blending and contrasting, but without the anxiety of strange pooling effects.

The downside to single-skein triangular shawls is that I often find them a bit on the small side, with not quite enough length to enable them to be wrapped effectively round the neck.  So with Ficus I chose to extend the leaf lace pattern with extra repeats until I had used up as much of the yarn as possible.  I was left with around half a metre after I’d cast off, so I’m confident I’ve squeezed every last bit out of this beautiful skein.

FO: Evenstar

I promised you something special for E.  So here is Evenstar.

This circular shawl was an epic knit.  It took around seven months from cast on to cast off, though I did pick up and deal with other projects in the meantime.  It measures around 5 feet in diameter, took 1500 metres of yarn and 3,000 beads.

I cast on while watching Frozen on Christmas Day 2016.  I remember it vividly because Elsa singing “Let It Go” was not the most helpful things while I was trying to manage Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On.  You need an extra hand or two for that at the best of times.

The pattern is by Susan Pandorf, part of a series of patterns themed around the Lord of the Rings.  I’ve loved it ever since I first set eyes on it, but didn’t have the skill at the time to do it.  Now, several years on, I felt ready to tackle it.

One of the tricky elements of this shawl is the ‘Evenstar stitch’, which is designed to resemble Arwen’s pendant from the books and films.  It’s a tricky stitch involving making seven stitches out of three.  Susan recommends practicing this stitch separately, before starting the shawl proper.  Learning from my nupp experience (it’s a similar technique), I used a crochet hook for this bit.

Because of the beads and the size of the shawl, I wanted a yarn with some strength to it.  I used Posh Yarn‘s Natasha Heavy Lace in a colourway called Peace Spreads Her Tranquil Blanket.  It’s a 50/50 mix of silk and camel.  I used three skeins overall – two for the body, and one for the knitted on edging.

The beaded knitted on edging was the hardest bit of this project.  It’s a great way of finishing a project, particularly for avoiding a long cast off, but, oh, was it dull.  The twenty row pattern repeat is just a bit too long to properly memorise, and it seemed to go on forever.

But it was worth every repetitive hour for a piece as stunning as this one.

FO: Dancing Butterflies

I’ve been really remiss lately about posting knitting and craft content, but that means I have a pile of FOs to tell you about.

First up is D in my A-Z of shawls.  This is Dancing Butterflies.  The pattern is by Carfield Ma.

I’ve been trying to get a bit more adventurous with my colour choices when I knit.  In particular, I’ve been trying to experiment with more variegated yarns.  This is another amazing colourway from Lola of Third Vault Yarns.  It’s called Deep Space, and is a lovely rich mix of purple, turquoise and blue, on her heavy laceweight base Tesseract.  I’ve matched the yarn with some rainbow coated beads in the same colour mix – they look like the refraction of colours you get on spilled oil.

I was careful to pick a pattern for this yarn where the stitch count is constantly changing, to try to avoid pooling.  I was really paranoid about some patches of pooling that were appearing as I was making it, but they don’t show up nearly as much in the finished shawl as I thought they would.

I think the semi-circular shape helps avoid too much pooling.  And semi-circular shawls are just so wearable, aren’t they?!  This one is another that’s loosely inspired by the German lace designs of Niebling, giving those lovely complex designs.  The heavy laceweight means it’s quite a bit more open and less delicate than some other shawls I’ve made, but the bold design and colour choice mean it goes with so much.

Onto E.  If all goes well, she should be a real stunner of a shawl …

FO: Brina

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an FO. So here is Brina, the second in my A-Z of shawls.  
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Brina is a crescent shawl with short-row shaping, from the queen of that technique, Susanna IC. The pattern is from Twist Collective, one of my favourite pattern sites.  
Brina was the chance for me to vanquish one of my knitting demons: nupps. For the uninitiated, nupps are a particular type of bobble, common in Estonian lace knitting. They create quite a flat bobble, unlike the more pronounced bobles typical of Wastern knitting styles. They are conventionally worked by increasing stitches in one row, and then purling them together on the next WS row. Being able to do that depends on leaving your stitches loose enough that you can manipulate them on the reverse row, with the added trickiness of putting a needle through and then purling together anything up to 7 stitches. I frogged an entire lace shawl once out of frustration at not being able to master the nupps in it. So I was determined to learn how to do them.  
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I’m afraid I cheated a bit on this shawl. I used the crochet hook method. It involves finishing the nupp on the RS row, and using a hok to pull the yarn through all the loops. It may be cheating, but it worked. It’s definitely a technique I will use again. 
The yarn I’ve used here is Nimu Lingmell. It’s a lovely spatter-dyed wool/silk blend in a 4ply weight and this skein was in a 150g size that was the perfect yardage for this pattern. The colourway is called Bright Flashes of Panic, and it was part of a limited edition yarn club run by the dyer a couple of years ago. Nimu sadly don’t produce much yarn at the moment (the dyer has gone back to full-time education, which is taking up her time) but if you watch the Nimu Facebook page you will occasionally see a destash or a summer yarn club like the one where I got this yarn.  
The shawl blocked out to be a lot shallower and wider than I was expecting, but that makes it the perfect length to wind round one’s neck loosely while still displaying long tails. It’s a great extra layer for those coool early Autumn days.