Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Shawl for Christmas

I've had the ball of rich red silk laceweight yarn in my Stash for ages.  Each time I have come across the ball, carefully wound by hand from a hank of silk which I got over ten years ago from Posh Yarn, I think of my friend Judith.  She was a huge inspiration to me and got me back into knitting.  Judith and I joined the lace shawl club and received frequent special hand dyed yarns, and have knitted most of them up over the last few years.

I had been waiting for a pattern to do the red silk  justice, and finding that my new Christmas top needed something bright, started on the Elowen Shawl.  The pattern is by Anniken Allis and is in The Knitter No 113.

Although this photograph shows its true colour taken in the conservatory, with the dismal light, knitting indoors with our 'super energy efficient' bulbs, it was more of a strain.  I overcame some of the problems by making up charts with repeats highlighted and columns to tick off each of the rows, as they were knitted up.  Usually I work from charts which I either sketch up in my knitting journal, or blow up from the copies in the pattern.

Have I ever mentioned life lines?  Probably not on this blog...but  I always suggest that they be used.  Did I use them...not at first, till I had a problem with a dropped took me three days worth of knitting to unknit back about 20 rows, and another two days to get back to where I had spotted the dropped stitch.

I needed to use a super smooth thread as I did not want any fibres leaving their tell tale marks on the silk.  Out came the fine but very strong knitted thread given to me several years ago by another knitting friend Diane from Kenilworth.  As well as being an excellent hand knitter, Diane was also a virtuoso of the knitting machine.  I called her a couple of weeks ago, to find out if I could get some more of this thread which knitting machinist use.

From then on, every few lines, in went a life line....

As I was knitting on a circular needle, it was very easy to thread through the yarn, by slipping all the stitches onto the nylon cord between the two needle tips.

When you start with just a few stitches, and increase by six stitches every two rows, each row grows longer and longer, and soon, faced with 417 stitches on the needle, a row is probably all I have time to knit through in a sitting.  Some knitters can sit for much longer...

The other dilemma is will there be enough yarn to finish all the shawl.  If I had the yardage when I first received the yarn, it is lost!!!!  Of course this is not the yarn suggested for the shawl, so I spent at least a couple of my even more sleepless nights pondering and worrying.  Even when I restricted the final pattern repeats to only two, and had started on the very open edging, I still had visions of having enough yarn for only two thirds of the edging.  Had I been using the yarn suggested, and had only recently bought it, and was running out, I would of course have the comfort of being able to buy a second ball.

After another worrying episode, I decided just to undo the part of the edging I had knitted, and finished off the shawl with a couple of rows including an eyelet edge and the Russian cast off.

A shawl is not complete till it is washed and blocked!!!!

My new Knit Pro blockers were really useful...and out came my two Pilates mats specially donated by teacher for blocking...Jane is a knitter too!  It is on the floor as I write this, with the dehumidifier going.

I had been following Anniken's tutorials working through different shawl shaping techniques, and had worked through all the little mini shawls...but just had not blocked, so did not feel that I could enter for her prize, but my prize is my finished shawl.  It is a truncated version of Elowen, and I have a very little ball left.....but I am pleased..I spotted the row of hearts...roughly outlined with paintshop!

Lessons learnt:  Be can work out adaptions.  Always use life lines for lace.  So many nice memories of friends.  Make more memories with new friends.....knit for friends in 2018.  Learn new techniques, use up Stash.


  1. Looks wonderful Noelle, the colour and pattern are exquisite. If you run out of your special yarn for life lines I have found that dental floss works really well, its super strong and doesn't leave any fibres.

    1. Thanks Mandy, the pattern is lovely. I did have sufficient and many use floss, but I was concerned that the wax on the floss might mark the silk. The special long fine cord is on my list for when I come across craft and knitting machine shops.