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.  

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.  

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.  

FO: Alberta Shawl

One of my aims for this year, is to make a bit more of a dent in my stash of laceweight and sock yarn.  So, inspired by a friend of mine, I’ve decided to copy her idea and start an A to Z of shawls.  It’s a pretty simple idea: pick a pattern from my ever-growing queue on Ravelry that starts with the appropriate letter, match yarn to it and get knitting.

First up, is Alberta.  
The pattern is by Anne-Lise Maigaard.  It is based, in part, on the famous  designs by Herbert Niebling.  Niebling is known as the father of modern lace knitting.  He collected and documented traditional lace knitting patterns, and they are still used as the inspiration for modern patterns.

Despite the complexity of the design, this was a surprisingly easy and fast shawl to knit.  There is a lot of interest in the design, which made me really want to keep picking up my needles to make progress.

The yarn is Sparkleduck‘s Harmony, in a colourway called Rosemary Remembers.  It’s a 50/50 merino silk blend, which I bought at Festiwool.  It’s quite a subtle colourway, but I love the bright flashes of violet and lime green that pop through it.  To me, they are suffragette colours, which is one of the things that drew me to this skein of yarn in the first place.

It turned out I also had the perfect beads in my stash too.  These are a 6/0 bead in a pretty pink with an AB coating.  That iridescent AB coating perfectly matches the variegation in the yarn.  The weight of the beads also adds a lovely drape to the shawl.  I used around 62g of beads in all (of the 66g that I had), and was panicking that I was going to run out of them – these were not the most uniform of beads, and I had a lot of mishapes and discards to get rid of.

But I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out.  Onto the letter B …

FO: Don’t Drink The Water

I’ve posted before about Third Vault Yarns.  Lola is fast becoming one of my favourite indie dyers, both for her amazing eye for colour and her playful geekiness.

Earlier in the year Lola decided to commemorate the discovery of water on the planet Mars with a cheeky Doctor Who inspired colourway called Waters of Mars.  She test-dyed some skeins of yarn and put the samples up on Facebook for us to comment on.  I’m not normally a fan of greens, but I instantly fell in love with this skein and Lola kindly sold me her sample.

The yarn is Lola’s Echo DK base.  It’s a squooshy, bouncy, pure merino that’s a joy to work with.

It’s the mark of a fantastic dyer that not only did I fall in love with a colour scheme I wouldn’t normally go for, but pretty much as soon as it arrived with me I had a pattern picked out, had wound the yarn and cast on.  Rarely has it been plainer to me what a skein of yarn wants to be: Don’t Drink The Water.

The pattern for these fingerless mitts is Magnolia, by Susan Pandorf.  I love the lace detailing and the picot edging, and the way it shows off the beautiful dyeing.  I’m pretty fussy about the thumbs on mitts, and these are perfect.  The pattern has separate instructions for both right and left hands, with proper gusseted thumbs.

These will be perfect for the colder weather coming.

FO: Tendrils

And to close out Wool Week, I thought I’d leave you with a final FO.

I actually finished this shawl several months ago, but I only got round to blocking it last weekend.  I had the boards and pins out for my Glasgow Rose, so it made sense to finally finish this one off as well.

The pattern is Tendrils, by Susanna IC.  It’s one she designed for Twist Collective, my favourite online knitting magazine.  She specialises in crescent shawls shaped with short rows, and I’ve made a couple of her designs.  It’s a very versatile and flattering shape that makes the most of a skein of yarn.

This yarn is I Knit or Dye‘s Eat To the Beat.  It’s a lovely mix of silk and camel in an airy laceweight.  The yarn was a gift from my MIL, who bought it for me one year at Woolfest when I wasn’t able to go.  She clearly knows my tastes well: this dusky mottled purple is one of my favourite shades.

It’s a beaded shawl, using about 20g of 6/0 beads.  I really struggle with matching beads to yarn.  I’m nervous about too obvious a contrast, but too close a match risks the beads being lost in the pattern.  I’m hoping the smoky amethyst beads I’ve used here (which were a near perfect colour match for the yarn) will add a subtle sparkle without overpowering the shawl.

FO: Glasgow Rose Shawl

There’s something magical about blocking lace knitting. You take something that’s crumpled and eggboxy and turn it into the airiest, crispest, most beautiful thing.  Blocking lace appeals to the same part of me that likes a good Ugly Duckling story.

Prague 212

I took my Glasgow Rose Shawl on holiday with me to Prague (blog post on that to follow when I get the time to put my thoughts in order).  I was desperate to finish it and have time to block it before going to Glasgow for a long weekend (blog post also intended), where I planned to wear it. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh inspired design was perfect to take and wear in his home town.

Prague 211

I’d finished the main set of charts quite a while before I left for Prague, but I had the option to keep doing repeats of the main section and edging until I (nearly) ran out of yarn to make it larger.  So the clock was ticking.  I finally cast it off with 15g of yarn remaining, with each repeat of the edging charts taking … about 15g of yarn.  Which is close enough for comfort!  I really didn’t want to risk another repeat.  All in all, I managed five extra repeats of that edging chart, giving me a much bigger shawl than it might otherwise have been.

Prague 213

As always, the blocking process did not disappoint.  My shawl grew by about a third once it was wet and pinned out, and the proportions changed completely.  What was quite a shallow triangle pre-blocking became much more even.  I could probably have even squeezed a bit more size out of it if I’d stretched it further, but I didn’t want to risk snapping the single ply yarn (single ply can be pretty fragile) and, let’s face it, I’d run out of space on my blocking mats on the spare bed.

Glasgow 002

For those of you wondering, the yarn is Madeleine Tosh Prairie in a colourway called Coquette.  I bought it at Unwind in Brighton last year.  It’s a very intensely dyed single ply yarn, with subtle variegation in the colour.

The pattern (designed by Lucy Hague) is relatively straightforward.  It’s worked from the point up, with the edging knitted as one goes.  The most complicated part is the rose motif at the point, which includes some quite complex 3-into-7 stitches.  It needed a lot of concentration,.  But by the time I’d got to the top, the bold and graphic design meant it had transitioned into pub knitting.

Glasgow 019

I’m really pleased with how it turned out.