I have been doing surprisingly well with my resolution not to let the stash keep growing this year, and have bought very little yarn, but when I saw on Twitter (shortly after the nine-foot linen scarf debacle) that Tangled Yarn was doing kits for Clare Devine’s Pwani, using their own wool/cotton blend Mabel & Ivy Coast I couldn’t resist ordering one in lovely restful sea blues (I’m really into blue at the moment, which is something of a surprise because I never used to be a fan).
The pattern is pretty simple, with alternating sections of garter stitch and lace mesh. It makes good TV and knit night knitting, and the shawl was a quick knit (it took me about three weeks). The yarn is lovely, with the cotton making it nice and cool to knit in summer, and produces a really nice light fabric. I was surprised by the size of the finished shawl; I was consistently getting fewer rows per section than the pattern suggested and expected a shawlette, but after blocking I ended up with a shawl that is a good-sized wrap or oversized scarf.
I like it a lot, and I’m sure I’ll wear it lots, although at the moment it feels as though every time I decide to wear a scarf the temperatures get up into the 20s and I end up carrying the scarf around all day (on the days when I don’t wear scarves, it stays in the teens and I think how much I wish I’d brought one, because this is England in summer and that’s just how our weather rolls). I’ve been attracted to a much more pared-down style lately – simple shapes, bold colours and patterns, no fuss – and this shawl fits with that much better than some of the lacier shawls I’ve knitted in the past.
I’m still in a slump; my life has changed so much this year with the change of jobs, and I think I’m struggling to work out where everything else fits in. I don’t know what I want to wear any more, or what I want to knit. I can’t quite work out how to reposition something that used to be an overwhelming obsession as just a hobby. I still think (as per my last post) that the knitting world has changed, but I’ve changed too. I don’t have the time or the mental space for knitting to be the all-consuming passion it used to be. And when knitting and I were everything to each other for so long, I can’t quite see how we can dial things back to just being friends.
My A-Z of shawls ended up having something of a hiatus after I finished my Nuvem. I did start knitting Boo Knits’ Out of Darkness as my O, but ended up chucking it in the bin as the yarn I was using turned out to have quite bad moth damage. I was sorry about the waste of time, but I wasn’t actually too sad not to have the shawl, as I’d had some doubts about whether delicate beaded lace was really my kind of thing. I don’t do fancy outfits; my shawls are part of my normal everyday wardrobe and I tend to opt for simpler patterns which make more use of colour and texture, rather than complicated lace. It took me a while to find an alternative, but after spending quite a lot of time searching Ravelry I eventually came across Very Busy Monkey’s Olympic National Park and fell in love with the tree and leaf design.
Obviously, such a leafy shawl needed to be green, and I picked an almost-solid merino/silk from Skein Queen which had been sitting in my stash for several years.
It turned out to be a really quick knit, taking me less than a month to finish despite the pattern requiring enough counting that I only tended to work on it at the weekends. Watching the branches and leaves develop was fascinating and made me want to keep on knitting to see the pattern emerge. It’s not a large shawl, but the shallow shape makes it work nicely as a scarf, while the silk content of the yarn makes it feel lighter and more summery than a shawl in 100% wool would do.
I seem to have been neglecting this poor blog lately. In my defence, I have been away for the last week and a half. We went to Berlin, where among other things I saw this lovely piece of fabric graffiti:
as well as this Mesopotamian figurine which I swear is a meerkat:
But before I went away I finally finished the no longer Neverending Nuvem!
After fairly gentle blocking (I soaked it and laid it flat and pulled it into the right shape, but didn’t use wires or pins) it’s about 6′ long and 2.5′ or 3′ wide. The cobweb yarn makes it very light, but it’s a good-sized wrap.
It also scrunches down to make a lightweight scarf.
It was a bit of a marathon to knit but it’s very pretty, though because the yarn is so fine I’m a bit worried about snagging it when I wear it – I actually already managed to snag a bit on one of my needle tips while I was casting off, though I pulled the yarn back through and I don’t think it really shows now. It is difficult, though, when you have something so delicate and which took a long time to make – I kind of want to keep it for “best”, rather than wearing it and risking it wearing out. But then I almost never actually wear “best” clothes so really that would mean all the effort I put into it was wasted if it just sits in the drawer!
Some time ago (late March, in fact) I cast on for Martina Behm’s Nuvem using some gorgeous cobweb silk from Solstice Yarns. I’ve been knitting away at it on and off since then, but I’m not really happy with it.
I’ve been following the pattern directions and knitting in the round on two circular needles, which isn’t normally my preferred method. I don’t know if it’s because I’m not used to the technique, or if it’s just that the weight of the hanging spare needle is too much for such fine yarn knitted at a loose-ish gauge, but I’ve ended up with huge ladders at the joins between the needles.
I’ve just done what I should have done ages ago, and moved the shawl from two needles to one (and have used one of the really flexible ChiaoGoo Spin cables, too), but that’s not going to do anything about the ladders that are already there. And people keep saying “oh, don’t worry, they’ll block out”, but I’m not sure they will. It’s taken me three months to knit 40g of the yarn (though admittedly I have mostly been knitting other things during that three months), but I don’t want to spend another three months knitting the rest only to end up with a shawl I’m not happy with. So I’m seriously considering ripping the whole thing out and starting again. Is that completely insane? What would you do? Can anyone show me documentary evidence of ladders that big blocking out?
Edit – so, Rachel is a genius and suggested hooking the ladders up to create an extra stitch. I wasn’t sure it would work, but I dug out a teeny-weeny crochet hook anyway, and blow me if it hasn’t worked! And I don’t think a couple of extra stitches are going to be a problem in this kind of a shawl. Thanks, Rachel, you’re a star!
A few months ago I bought a skein of rainbow gradient-dyed sock yarn from the Knitting Goddess. I knew straight away that I wanted to knit a semi-circular shawl that would show off the rainbow colours, and Patricia Martin’s Mizzle shawl seemed like the perfect pattern; the right shape, an appropriately meteorological name, and it even fit quite neatly into my A to Z of shawls.
It’s quite a simple pattern, though I did have to rip back several rows when I realised that I had been adding extra yarnovers at the ends of the decorative yarnover/k2tog rows. I kept repeating the stocking stitch/garter stitch and yarnover sections until I didn’t think I had enough yarn left for another repeat, and then did the ribbed edging until I had almost run out of yarn. I was a bit worried that I might not quite have enough for the bind-off but in fact I had a few metres left, though I don’t think it would have been enough for another row.
I was worried it would be a bit small, but it’s come out a nice size. I do find semi-circular shawls very easy to wear wrapped round my shoulders, and I love having a rainbow to wear!
After nearly five months, my Lady Heather is finished.
It was slow going to begin with, because the pattern is very intricate and it took me a long to really feel confident, though the second half went a lot faster and it would have been finished about a month ago if July hadn’t been so hot I couldn’t bear to work on it. I actually finished the knitting last week, but it’s been blocking since then.
It’s come out at a smidgen under eight feet long by two feet wide, so it’s really not surprising that it took a long time to knit. The yarn is BFL 4-ply from Ripples Crafts and I used 212g (I had two 150g skeins so I have enough left for some socks, or maybe a hat). It’s quite a woolly yarn, but not fuzzy, so the stitch pattern shows beautifully, and the result is a wrap that is lightweight but will still be warm to wear.
The pattern has instructions to sew buttons on to the shawl so it can be worn as a cardigan or shrug, and I did buy some purple shell buttons to put on mine, but it’s come out long enough that I think it would be difficult to wear it as anything other than a wrap, and I’m a bit worried about my ability to sew the buttons on neatly anyway, so I’ve decided not to bother with them. It’s not as though I don’t wear shawls as shawls a lot anyway!
Two years in to my A-Z shawl challenge and I’ve reached K, for which I decided on Katika by Julie Nandorfy, a free pattern on Ravelry that I’d favourited a while ago.
It’s a very straightforward pattern, based on the same principle as the very popular Baktus scarf: you start at one end, increase until you’ve used about half your yarn, then decrease at the same rate so you end up with a long, shallow triangle. This version has a pretty scalloped lace edging, and an integral i-cord finish to the top edge which gives a lovely neat finish.
The yarn is Tenby, from the Welsh dyer Cariad Yarns; it’s a merino/cashmere/nylon blend which makes a lovely cosy shawl, and I love the mix of colours in this skein, which remind me of the colours you see shimmering on split petrol.
The shape of the shawl makes it more scarf-like than shawl-like to wear wrapped round my neck, though it also drapes very nicely over my shoulders if I wanted to wear it that way.
I’d be lying if I said this was going to be my new Favourite Shawl Ever; there are several others I like better, but this isn’t bad and is definitely nice and cosy. And it was a quick, relaxing but not boring knit at a time of year when I didn’t really have the mental energy to tackle anything too complicated.
I’m not sure if I have any more mental energy now; L is Anna Richardson’s Lady Heather which I think may take me a while. Even if I didn’t have a geeky urge to cast on for a Bigger On The Inside at 6:15 this Saturday…