Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Princess and Kate

Oh dear! It's been a while. I can't believe it is now January 2018 and I have been MIA since September. I have a lot to catch you up on then! 2017 was a full year, I managed to knit my way through 20,347 yards of yarn. That's 11.56 miles! 

My biggest piece of news is that I finished my Princess Shawl. Wow, what a project. I really wish I had just stuck with it when I started it, because it was such a shame that it sat languishing miserably in a bag for so many years. 

I can see how much I have learned in the meantime, at the beginning I remember talcing up my poor sweaty hands and struggle to knit even one point of the edging. When I began the borders, I fought with my needles as every stitch became stuck on the joins. It led me to discovering Chiaogoo Red Lace Circulars and I don't think I could use another brand ever again. They have revolutionised fine lace knitting for me, no tangled cables and no catchy joins. 

I love how you can overcome the overwhelming feelings of ever getting to finish a project of this size. It was a perfect practice of taking one stitch at a time. One element at a time and celebrating the completion of each section with great vigour!

The edging at the beginning did seem to go on forever. At the time, I had never knit a project in yarn this fine, or with such tiny needles. There was a lot of practice involved before I could comfortably churn out an edging point with any confidence. There are 72 such darlings across the bottom of the shawl and it was a full year before I picked up my stitches for the borders. 

Seven years and countless projects later, I finally finished the borders. In the end, they were an interesting and joyful knit. The pattern is stunning and to see it appear one row at a time is like waking up to Christmas morning, every day.  I did a little practice run on the laurel leaf insertion, with some smooth cotton and bigger needles, just to familiarise myself with how it looked, row by row. I heartily recommend doing this, as even with the additional practice, I managed to fluff up the final rows somehow. Nothing that is noticeable, but my stitch count was out. At least I think it was, counting and recounting 648 teeny tiny stitches was enough to give me a headache and a growly temper.

Getting to the centre pattern was a huge milestone, I felt like I was so close to the end. I knew it would be a bit monotonous and take a while, but I think I was in strict denial that I was only halfway there. It took three solid months to plough through it, what a slog. I refused to give up, I also knit 2 hats and 2 shawls in the same time to stop my brain from melting, and I got to the end of it without too much bloodshed. I think I needed to adjust a few rows to finish at a completed motif, but otherwise it was pretty uneventful.

The top edging surprised me a lot. I picked up and knit my stitches across the border sides, because I like to have definite stitches to attach my edging to. I knit 63 edging points along the top edge, only 9 less than the entire bottom border, wowee! I was not expecting that. 

Finishing the Princess left me a little bereft. I was done. 8 years of thinking about it and it was done. After a marathon knitting session of about 9 months in total. My largest project to date. All 4,885 yards of gossamer deliciousness! So what do you think? Is anybody else knitting it?

The pattern details are as follows:-

Needles: 2mm Chiaogoo Red Lace
Eye strain: Balanced out by the sheer beauty of the finished shawl
Headache: Especially with the wrong needles & having to recount stitches after little people take no heed of mammy's 'counting face'
Sweaty Hands: Talc is your best friend
Palpitations: I popped a hole in the border as I was blocking the shawl. My heart stopped. 
Guilt: Should I knit or make dinner, knit or sleep,  knit or housework, knit or check kids homework...
Late Nights: Too many to count

Next up were some Winter woolies. I recently bought my dream coat, so I needed a whole new wardrobe of accessories for it. Obviously.

All were Kate Davies Designs, her Funchal Moebius cowl, Stranded Bunnet and Stranded Pawkies. The hat and gloves were quick projects in DK and the cowl took a little longer. In fact I didn't knit the full 15 repeats but ended at 10 as I ran out of yarn. I think the shorter length suits me better, but if you want to loop it twice around your neck, definitely knit all 15 repeats.

Fair isle accessories are so satisfying to complete and I am especially pleased with how the cowl turned out, the pattern is so striking and I love wearing it.

The details are as follows:

Needles: 3mm circulars

Needles: 3.25mm & 3.75mm

Needles: 3mm & 3.5mm

The came Christmas and I made two pairs of simple sock weight mittens for my friends daughters. 

I am currently coming to the end of a large square shawl that I am very excited to block. I haven't seen it all properly stretched out yet, so blocking will truly be a magical moment.

So until that's finished!

Happy new year and happy knitting


Friday, 29 September 2017

Twirl Scarf and Solstice Shawl Pattern Release

It almost feels like letting these beauties fly free in the wild! I have actually released two patterns! Eeeep! Imagine, doing something I said I would ages ago, alas I am a perfectionist  when it comes to procrastination.

I have to thank my good friend Mairead and designer Marie Wallin, for giving me the shove needed, because otherwise, these two patterns would still be languishing on the computer with no hope of ever being knit again.

I went to a class in the Glen Gallery in County Antrim last November with Mairead and another knitty pal. The class was to knit a beautiful fair isle cowl by Marie Wallin (Nelly Cowl, I completely recommend it, fantastic knit and a stunning cowl at the end of it) and we got to chatting after coffee, as you do...

"Go on, show her your stuff" Mairead is keen.
"Shhh, she'll hear  you" I'm still a little awe struck being in the same room as a real life designer.
"Go on, look Marie, look at what this one can do" Mairead isn't giving up and now Marie has started to look like she expects me show her something fantastic.

I pull out the phone and flick through my photo's (which are a third, kids, a third interesting sunsets and a third knitting related). I mumble incoherently while Marie looks on quietly. Little did I know what she was planning on the spot. 

I gave her my details and she said she'd like to do a feature on me in her newest book (Shetland which was just launched this week for Shetland Wool Week). I think I was a bit dazed, because I smiled and agreed and didn't honestly think anything would come of it. 

I think Mairead made up for the both of us in the excitement stakes, and she made happy noises the whole way home. 

Marie was true to her word though, she asked me for two new designs, both to be knit with Jamieson's Ultra and Ultra Cobweb. I happily obliged and spent many happy weeks last year plotting, planning and knitting. 

And that is how the Solstice Shawl and Twirl Scarf came into being.

Solstice is a top down triangle shawl, knit from a garter stitch tab with a knit on edging. It is knit with cobweb wool and a 2.75mm needle. The lace is a small repeated motif and there is patterning on every row.  The finished shawl measures 64" x 32" and used 806 yards of yarn approx. 

The Twirl Scarf is a long twirly scarf, mimicking the Fibonacci sequence or Golden Ratio. It is knit with 6 colours of Jamieson's Ultra and is knit from the top down with a plain stocking stitch section and a garter stitch lace section. It is finished off with a knit on deep lace edging. The scarf is knit with a 3.5mm needle and used 954 yards approx. It is a less demanding knit but it looks more complicated because of all the different sections.

I really enjoyed the whole process, although none of it felt real until the book landed in the post this week. For anyone who is interested I am on pages 66 - 69 of Shetland! With a lovely write up by Marie and the most spectacular project photos I have ever seen. It is amazing what a professional photographer can do!

Both patterns are now available to buy in my Ravelry Store.

Thank you!!!
Happy knitting