Sunday, 15 February 2015

Shawl update . . . half term hols :)

We've been on our school half term break here in the Hebrides - not sure how this works elsewhere in the country but we've enjoyed it anyway!  My plans to document the making of my new shawl from start to finish are a little behind schedule but I HAVE been photographing it as I go along and hope to divulge any tips and info I've gleaned along the way.  With shawl knitting I feel like I've joined a new club in the same way as with sock-knitting, hehe - it's quite exciting :)  

So, I've started another shawl from another free Ravelry pattern which is specifically designed for shawl/lace 'newbies' so takes you from beginning to end with explanations along the way - perfick!  It's called 'Snowflakes and Flowers', by  Sandra Oakeshott - just perfect for this time of year, and it has three different lace patterns to practice your lace knitting techniques.  A lovely pattern to practice with and yet again I'm being forgiving with my errors - no big 'frogging' tantrums here!

This is the shawl after I've finished the first pattern of the  snowflakes - I'm using Drops Delight yarn which is a little similar to the Noro yarn suggested, yet another variegated yarn I had left from an abandoned crochet project. . . . 

Here's the start, nearer the cast on stage . . .

The lower edge of the picture is the cast on edge (the top of your finished shawl).  You can see there's a column of single knitted stitches down the centre.  Either side of this centre line is a repeat of the same pattern, which is gradullay increased row by row.  The pattern asks for a garter tab cast on method -  I think this is a good tutorial to follow if you get confused!.

Both patterns I've followed give instructions for one side of the shawl which gets repeated for the other side, so you have a centre panel (of one or two stitches) with the pattern repeated on either side.  Both shawls are triangular shaped and knitted from the top down.  I was very confused when I started the first one as I had no idea which part of the shawl I was knitting!

Here's a pic of the beginning of my current shawl where you can see the pattern more clearly . . .

Sorry, I'm holding it lengthwise here - just to confuse further!
You can see the centre stitch and also the edging along the top - the line of holes are created with 'yarn overs'.  This is the snowflake pattern - quite small motifs but still pretty.  I'm using a 32 inch circular needle with bamboo points (cheap and cheerful!) - size 3.5 mm.  In shawl lace knitting I think the general idea is to go approx one needle size bigger than the yarn suggests so you get a 'floaty' fabric, but it depends on what you want.  I had a few test rows and decided this needle was fine for my first attempt at a more floaty shawl - it's all a bit experimental!  (I actually thought I'd chosen a 3.75 mm needle but never mind).

By the way, I've found that having gotten used to reading knitting charts, I tend to use a mixture of both and sometimes write out pattern repeats to keep me right - this combination works quite well for me.

I've just finished the second pattern repeat which is tulips - let me tell you there are a couple of wonky tulips in this shawl 'garden', hehe but heigh ho, I'm learning so there!  Today I'll be knitting the 'flower' pattern if I feel so inclined!  (well, it is Sunday after all) :)

Anyway, all very technical information but I am getting into this 'shawl knitting' thing :)

Here's a nice pic of the moor yesterday - we had a lovely crisp sunny day - first moor plod of the year, hurray! . . . 

Yes, I do go outside occasionally!

Also I made some flapjacks yesterday just because.  They look a bit disastrous here but they tasted nice . . .

I'm off to have one right now with a nice cup of coffee :)  This recipe came from youngest's Dorling Kindersley's 'Childrens Quick and Easy Cookbook' - a much used copy!

Hope you had a nice weekend, extended or not!  I'll be back soon with more tales of the shawl - I'm taking a relaxed approach to this one as I know the 'ropes' so to speak so no frantic knitting sessions thankfully!  Perhaps an end-February finish-line??  See you soon :)

P.S.  If I make the flapjacks again I'll post the recipe - I'm thinking of adding a drizzle of chocolate on top, some dried apricots maybe - mmmmmmmmm! :)

Alison xx

Thursday, 5 February 2015

It's a shawl thing . . . .

When I'm not on my blog for an extended spell, it usually means I've got so completed obsessed with making something, I can't stop long enough to write about it!  That's sort of happened the last couple of weeks and January was such a long difficult month, financially-speaking, I just pulled down the hatches and knittted my way through the month, pretending it wasn't really happening -  it seemed to work for me :) :)

I've had a real breakthrough by learning to read lace knitting charts - well, its just opened up a whole new world of patterns to me!  It started with a pair of lace socks (more of them later), but led me on to making a lace shawl - gasp!!!  I've never had a notion to make a shawl but a funky free pattern on Ravelry has been sitting in my 'fave' list for a while.  I bashed on with this so quickly I couldn't stop to blog about it, but here it is in its full glory . . . . 

I used some yarn/wool called Aire Valley Aran Fusions from West Yorkshire Spinners - from a previously ripped out project from last Winter!  The colours are lovely though - this is Autumn Mix.  I used a 6 mm needle.

If you thought knitted lace shawls had to be floaty, intricate, flyaway things - think again!  This pattern by Sylvia Bo Bilvia is written for worsted weight (btw DK and aran) and is a fab introduction to shawl knitting.  It's got me hooked anyway :)  I've still to block this (seemingly lace shawls MUST be stretched and blocked) but I will possibly just stretch it out and spray block it with a water spritzer thingy (I found a finished kitchen cleaner spray bottle under my kitchen sink) - you've probably got one too if you look ;-)

I've started another shawl in a lighter weight yarn, so I'll try to document it as I go - it's such a lovely process to make a shawl.  There's a little bit of magic involved in it in the same way as sock knitting has - the finished piece seems to emerge triumphantly at the end!

Here's the lace sock by the way . . . 

Sorry, slightly dark pic - I told you January was grim, hehe!  A lovely leafy pattern by Stephanie Van der Linden from Around the World in Knitted Socks, a really lovely book.

It looks sort of medieval in this picture - my other half thought I was knitting a shoe!  I wasn't using the suggested yarn, but some Guernsey wool I had in my stash - I think it's still pretty though.  I'm on the second sock but the ball of wool is running out fast . . . 

Anyhoo, sorry for the absence but now that yukky January is out of the way I hope to be here a little more often :)  I've promised to document my current shawl project (another fantastic free pattern from Ravelry!) so a promise, is a promise!  It would be nice to document it from the cast-on all the way to the blocking process (which is quite new to me).  I'll try and throw in what I've learnt so far about lace shawl knitting too :)

See you soon :)
Alison x

P.S.  BTW I do have errors in my shawl but this variegated yarn is VERY forgiving - I think the errors make it more unique, haha!