The Wedding Shawl Take #2

A friends daughter got married couple of weeks ago. I left the wedding shawl knitting to the last minute. It was touch and go for a while if I would even finish it. I cast on the Sunday night with the yarn I bought a few weeks previously in This Is Knit. A last minute road trip to Dublin was perfect timing when I needed urgent yarn…thanks to Bernie for driving down *waves! It was a perfect day (we need to go back soon!). When we arrived at TIK Jenny very kindly helped me choose the right yarn…thanks Jenny!! *waves

I got a preview of the dress and knew I needed the whitest yarn I could find. Finding nice white yarn is harder than you think! After I knit my friend Lisa’s wedding shawl last year (I wrote a blog post about it here) I knew I was going for the Holden shawl pattern again. The bride was wearing her mums dress and it was vintage, so I knew this shawl style would work – just enough lace pattern on edge.

So I went into TIK with the plan to find sock weight yarn but I came out with lace!  And extra pretty lace at that…Juniper Moon Farm Findley Lace in the brightest white. What I loved most about this yarn was the fibre content – mulberry silk and merino. Perfect for a wedding shawl! The merino is super soft and the silk gives a nice sheen, plus it’s perfect for shawls as silk gives good drape.

So the shawl knitting commenced on the Sunday night. I knit furiously for two days. By Wednesday evening I was casting off :-O …four days to knit a shawl!!! My best record yet lol. To finish the shawl needed a good soak and then wet block. I needed to drop it down to my friends house that evening…so out the hair dryer came lol. Drying the shawl slowly, switching between hot and cool air did the trick. The shawl was done and delivered just in time!!! Phew.

The wedding was in Donegal and I’ve yet to see pictures of the bride, and the shawl in action! In the rush to get it finished I didn’t have much time to photograph but I did manage these couple of shots…

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4 Knit-a-longs for Autumn/Winter 2015

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It’s September and the cold weather is definitely upon us. So that means knitting season is finally here! Whoop! Grab your woolly yarns, your favourite needles and cast-on something selfish for yourself before the Christmas knitting rush happens.

For me the last few months have been filled with gift knitting including lots of baby knits. So I have decided that September is my selfish knitting month. Though where to start that is the problem.

Do I (a) get the wips down or (b) start a new project. (I can hear a wee voice in the background shouting “Get those wips done Gill!”right Nicki!) But of course me being me I decided to cast on something new lol.  After a long time trawling through ravelry I noticed that there was an awful lot of KAL’s either just started or coming up in the next few months (so much temptation!!).  I love a good KAL and a few have been added to my list already – must find more knitting time lol.

I thought I’d give you all the low-down here on what’s on the radar for this season. So grab a cup of tea and join me…

Irish designer Carol Feller has just announced her Autumn Sweater KAL.  The pattern is Mithral a stunning lightweight sweater made from Fyberspates new Cumulus yarn.  The yarn is itself is just as its name suggests…like working with soft fluffy clouds!

It is a heavy lace weight (3-ply) with a really gentle halo, made from 74% alpaca and 26% mulberry silk.  Its a great alternative to mohair and for me that was a big pull factor in trying it out – I’m allergic to mohair.  I have some fibre allergies including BFL (which seems to be everywhere these days!) and having asthma means I need to be careful as to what I knit with.  But I’m always keen to try something new out with the hope that it will expand my fibre choice! I have knit with both silk and alpaca before but it was the fluffy halo that had me worried.  Back in the summer I was knitting with Juniper Moon Herriot (super soft alpaca) and a few rounds into knitting a hat I took a major sneezing fit.  Sadly back off the needles and onto the winder it went…but the beautiful grey skein found a home (I know Grainne will enjoy it!).

So back to the sweater. I’ve long been an admirer of Carol’s designs.  I have made a couple her things including a junior Ravi (my Ravi is still on the needles Una!!) for a friends little girl. Mithral is stunning!! Knit from the top-down with set-in short rows for the sleeves, Carol says that Mithral is a light warm sweater for cooler days when you don’t want the bulk of a chunky sweater.

The KAL will commence on the 1st October 2015 and you can sign up on ravelry here.  There is also several LYSs joining in on the fun including one of my all time favourites – This is Knit.  You can sign up with them through their website here. The colours that the yarn comes in are like candy in a sweet shop. This is Knit have got plenty for you to choose from as you can see the image below…

imageWhat colour did I choose?  Well it was a very tough call.  To be honest I love all the shades but I was most torn between bottle Green, Ruby Red and Magenta.  In the end it was Magenta that swung it as I don’t have any pink sweaters! I got two skeins from This is Knit and I have just cast on the swatch – yes a swatch Nicki! But not your average swatch because Carol understands how most knitters feel about swatching for projects. It’s hard using pretty yarn just to make a square. In fact its a waste of good yarn really! So Carol has created a Hat swatch and that means I’ll have a matching hat for my sweater – genus idea or what!

I’ve just done about 20 rounds so far but I’m already in love with this yarn! In fact I’m even considering making my dog (Poppy) a cumulus sweater for christmas lol.  I know my dear friend Jo will be horrified by that suggestion but it seems to have gone down well with Carol and Jenny (Fyberspates) on twitter lol.

I’ll keep you all posted as I make progress with the KAL over the next number of weeks.

For weeks now Kate has been teasing us with what to expect in her first yarn club and today it finally happened. It was the battle of the internet this lunchtime as dedicated fans rushed to their computers to sign up for Kate’s much anticipated yarn club.

imageAs 12 noon struck the website got a little mental. Demand was high (but we always knew that would happen as Kate’s designs as much loved by many!) and there was a lot of anxious chatter on twitter while folks were trying to sign up. But Kate was so attentive with plenty of reassurance that things will calm down. I was very lucky to grab a place and I’m super excited for my parcel to arrive.  And a few of my fellow Irish knitters joined in on the fun too…waves to Una, Fiona and Mairead!

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So what is this club?  Well for many months now Kate has been working behind the scenes on a secret project.  A project that has envisaged her goal of creating her own yarn range.

Buachaille is yarn raised in Scotland and made in the UK from a blend of carefully sourced Scottish wool.  The yarn is also ENco certified which means that the yarn has no harmful pesticides from the sheep that grew it (this is probably the best part because that means its super environmentally friendly!).

So what do you get in the club?  Well its not just called Seven Skeins Yarn Club for nothing…seven skeins of Buachaille, one in each of the seven shades – Yaffle (Yellow-Green), Between Weathers (Blue), Highland Coo (Brown-Red), Islay (Teal), Haar (Light Silver), Islay (Blue-Green) and Ptarmigan (Undyed Natural). Plus you get a limited edition Buachaille Tote, along with seven exclusive patterns to the club and a print copy of Kate’s new book Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands.  

You can find out more about the club including the background from how the label design came about to the process for creating the yarn on Kate’s blog here.  But more importantly there are is still places left in the club here if you wish to sign up. But they won’t hang around for long so don’t waste any time! Go grab yourself some Buachaille yarn!

imageJust like last year Ysolda has released another Knitworthy collection to keep us all on focus for the knitting season. The collection is intended to enable knitters make good gifts for their loved ones and the pattern release schedule is aimed towards Christmas gifting.

The first of eight patterns came out earlier this month and I have just finished my Liebevoll Shawl. The shawl features a very fun cable design that uses Barbara Walker’s closed ring cable technique to enable the cables being worked as a horizontal panel at the bottom of the shawl.  The shawl is worked bottom up, beginning with a wide garter edge before starting the cable panel.  Next is short rows to curve the shawl and then you finish the top straight edge with some grafting before blocking.

The cable panel has charted instructions but don’t let that put you off. I found the pattern very intuitive and enjoyed learning the new closed ring technique. Although to be very honest I kinda got stuck on the short row shaping section but I blame tiredness from too many late nights this week!!

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The best advice she gave me was to step away from the knitting! haha.  Good advice! It was much better in the morning.  I’ll share my finished shawl in another blog post shortly but here’s a sneak peak of it blocking in the meantime…

imageAs with all of ysolda’s designs she always provides lots of assistance through social media (just fire her a message) or stunning video tutorials on her website.  For the Liebevoll shawl she released 4 video tutorials for doing the cable panel.  You can watch them on her blog here

imageThe second pattern in the collection has already been released this week. The Kaerlig mitts are stunning!! The construction follows the shape of the hand, using simple rib and garter stitches. You need between 100 and 415 yards of fingering weight for these and Ysolda used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light for her mitts in ‘Tern’ a really cute neutral colour. I’m really impressed with this design. So simple but lots of techniques to learn as you make them including provisional cast on, magic loop, and three needle bind off. In fact a great project for an adventurous beginner knitter who is keen to learn!

So there is still 6 more designs to come and based on last years collection I’m already dreaming of hats and colourwork!  You’ll remember last time round I blogged about my Bronntanas hat here and there was also a tutorial on how to do the felt join here.  You can see below that last years designs were stunning!! You can still get them on ravelry here.

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Felicity Ford (AKA Flex) – knitter, podcaster and soundartist – is the genus behind Knitsonik.  I was very blessed to support her kickstarter campaign last year when she looked for support to get her Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook published.  In fact I was one of the lucky 50 supporters who got their name in the book!

So I was well excited when I heard that Knitsonik was doing a design mitt-along.  I have been creating designs in the background for a wee while but just had the confidence to release any patterns out into the big wide world. So I thought this might be a great opportunity to get back to being more creative again (see Sharon I was listening on Wednesday! lol).

So how does the KAL work? On 1st October everyone will cast on the mitts using the formula pattern in the design kits (kits are sold out I think sorry). Everyone will use the formula but design their own pattern using the 8 shades of Jamieson & Smith Shetland in the kit.  I posted pictures of the yarn on instagram this week…

imageAs you can see there is a mix of greys, blues, greens and yellows.  All colours relate to the Roman Wall image that Flex has picked for comrades to use as inspiration for design.  I can’t wait to start this KAL. It is going to be interesting how everyone’s mitts look – different or maybe not so different.

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So I guess it looks like my knitting time is sorted until Christmas now haha!!  I am looking forward to each and everyone of these KALs though.  Hope you have found this post informative.  I’m sure I’ve either scared the life out of you or perhaps inspired you to join me? Please let me know.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on KALs…have you done them before and what did you think about them?

Friday FO: The Wedding Shawl

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The Wedding Shawl

Last week I was on a mission…a mission to knit my friend Lisa her wedding shawl. I’d left it to last minute with 14 days to make it before the big event. I know!! The stash was raided (see I’m still stash busting!!…more on progress of that soon!) and I found the perfect yarn – Malabrigo Sock – in a natural cream shade. I knew that her dress was ivory but I’d no idea of the style so choosing a shawl pattern blindly was difficult – I needed something that I knew I would be able to knit in a week to leave me enough time to do the finishing, but also something that would be pretty for a wedding but not too fancy as to over-power the dress (its really all about the dress on the day!).

There was much trawling on ravelry. I am a huge shawl fanatic and have many (and I mean many!!) shawl patterns in my library. So choice and variety was definitely not an issue! Sometimes too much choice is a bad thing and I did feel a little overwhelmed in making sure I picked the right one. It felt a little like Don’t Tell The Bride (and for those of you outside the UK this a very popular show here on the BBC were the groom plans the wedding – including picking the dress)…would Lisa like the finished shawl? I was in a real panic but I did manage to narrow my list down to five options…

  1. The Bamboo Wedding Shawl by Purl Soho
  2. Holden by Mindy Wilkes
  3. Out of Darkness by Boo Knits
  4. Fantoosh by Kate Davies
  5. Sunflower Shawl by Tin Can Knits
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The Holden Shawl as over 8,400 projects on Ravelry

Time was ticking and after much consideration I decided to go for the much popular Holden Shawl. This shawl is a top-down style which initially is all increasing with yarn overs (YO) and stocking stitch (st-st) – so a pretty good pattern when your under pressure.

Bonus is the pattern has three sizes (small, medium and large) and you knit the stocking-stitch part until you get to the correct number of stitches for whichever size your making – this means you can slip the shawl over your shoulders as you knit and check the size. Initially I had planned to go for the large size – I certainly had enough yarn – but by the time I got to the medium size stitch count I knew it was going to be way to big going large. The benefit of this meant I could get started on the pretty wavy lace pattern sooner 🙂

The whole week every minute I had I was making that shawl – I knit it in bed, at the kitchen table, on the sofa, in work while having my lunch at my desk, to much glee from colleagues – they even got in on the act of asking how it was progressing each day. It became quite the talking point and this spurred me on to get it finished. There’s nothing like a deadline to get stuff done lol.

By Saturday (1st August) I had finished the wavy lace and was ready for cast off. Lisa wasn’t getting married until Thursday 6th August – so I had time to bling it with a beaded cast off…right? Yeah!! But boy that cast off took AGES!!! It was worth it though as the bead placed on the tip of each picot point really gave the shawl a subtle ping of bling to make it that extra special for a wedding. Though it did kill my eyes trying to put the teeny tiny bead on the crochet hook and then onto the stitch. But after three evenings it was done!!! Yeah!! Whoooopppp!!

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Showing the beads placed on each picot tip

 

Just the finishing left to do and then it was ready for the handover to the bride for the final approval. As every knitter knows the handover part is the anxious bit, though more so to a non-knitter as they don’t understand the work that has gone into making the finished piece. Thankfully Lisa is a fellow crafter and when I dropped it round to her the night before the wedding she loved it!! I was so happy. I got a sneak peak of her dress and was so pleased to see that the shawl would work with it really well.  Mission completed! 🙂

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Finished shawl – bigger than expected but so warm!

…I got so many compliments and everyone loved it!

Lisa loved it and has very kindly allowed me to showcase some of her wedding pictures with her wearing the shawl. She wore the shawl down the isle and it came in handy to keep her warm for the journey to the reception.  She told me afterwards “I got so many compliments and everyone loved it”. I’m sure you will agree that she looked stunning!

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Lisa the ‘Bride’ wearing her Wedding Shawl – doesn’t she look gorgeous!

 

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Lisa had hand knitted flowers in her bouquet
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Lisa & Colin – gorgeous picture of the happy couple!
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Close up colour image of the shawl. You can see how everything worked really well together here
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The new Mr & Mrs McNally

And as for the shawl pattern – I would definitely recommend everyone makes at least one -in fact I’ve already cast-on my second! Although this time round I don’t think it will have a beaded cast-off lol.

So what’s on your needles? Leave a comment below…

Pattern Monday: Loop 10

Did you know that The Loop is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year?

In honour of this milestone This Loop have collaborated with 12 independent designers and yarn dyers who have supported them over the years to create an anniversary pattern book called Loop 10.

The book won’t be officially available until September but over the last while they have been teasing us with previews of the patterns and bespoke yarns on ravelry.

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So here is the low-down of what’s been released so far…

Islington Shawl by Kirsten Kapur

A crescent shaped shawl using two shades of DyeForYarn Merino/Silk fingering weight yarn including the bespoke shade ‘Golden Beehive’.  Kirsten is a lover of two coloured shawls and has used a combination of garter and diamond lace with a crochet edge to create a beautiful textured shawl.

Isokon Mitts by Ysolda Teague

Isokon is a name that comes from 1930’s English architecture.  Using Old Maiden Aunt Alpaca Silk in bespoke ‘Angel Islington‘ colourway, Ysolda has created these understated mitts with clever shaping that follow the contours of the hand.

Meandering Shawl by Stephen West

Its no surprise that Stephen West has used his trademark ‘Brioche’ style to create this zig-zag constructed shawl with a scalloped. Stephen has used Madelinetosh Merino Light in bespoke shades ‘Ghost‘ and ‘London Cosmopolitan‘ which is favourite yarn of mine.

Rosemaling Mitts by Dottie Angel

A great pattern for beginners who want to try embroidery, these mitts are easy level knitting.  Dottie designed these mitts using The Uncommon Thread in the bespoke ‘Turbillion‘ colourway with embroidery done using Pigeonroof Studios Mini-Skein twist sock.

Silene Cardigan by Pam Allen

Pam has created this one-piece cardigan with raglan shaping and pretty eyelets.  Quince & Co Lark in bespoke colourway ‘London Rose‘ shows the swing design off to perfection.

Wreath Shawl by Meghan Fernandes

This design is inspired by both the designers and dyers time in England.  Meghan has used a dainty stitch with a border of overlaping branches to show of the subtle natural bespoke colourway ‘Speckled Mist‘ in Viola Merino Fingering.

…congratulations to The Loop and wishing them many more yarny years to come!

I’m a big fan of the Loop and been a customer for years now. If your looking for a little bit of extra special yarn then they are the place to go. Unfortunately I’ve only ever shopped with them online…but visiting their bricks & mortar shop in definitely is on my knitting buck list! In the meantime I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!! So congratulations to The Loop and wishing them many more yarny years to come!!