Making something new and trying out a new technique is a great way to start the new year, don't you think? Another great way to start the new year is buying yarn – ahem…
I made it to my first ever yarn release on the Skein Queen web site this month and managed to snag several lovely hand dyed skeins, although I was absolutely amazed at how quickly all those lovely skeins of yarn flew out of the virtual doors almost as soon as they opened at 8pm!
This was one of my purchases – a merino and silk blend fingering yarn (called 'Selkino') in colourway St Emilion:
I was buying this to make a simple lightweight scarf that could be worn indoors for a commission, but as soon as I saw it, I wanted to make something a little more ambitious and special – especially since my client had put such a lot of thought into selecting just the right yarn for her scarf.
A short while ago, I'd spotted a lovely lace knit shawl pattern called 'Love in a Mist' by Boo Knits on Ravelry, which we decided would be just the thing! I don't knit that much lace, although I crochet a lot of it. I'd certainly never knit a crescent shape shawl before, and I'd never knit with beads either, both of which are part of this pattern. In for a penny, as they say…
So buying beads was next and I selected Miyuki Triangle beads in size 5, as the pattern recommends. The ones I chose are berry coloured on the outer and gold inside, which goes beautfully with this richly red and spicy looking yarn. Obviously, I couldn't just buy one set – I needed more to go with my other Skein Queen purchases 😉
Just about everyone's review of this pattern that I read on Ravelry was really postitive – glowing in fact – so I have to put the problems I had with it down to my own dimness. To be fair, I don't think this is intended to be a lace beginner level pattern although most comments said it was very straightforward and a "quick knit" – au contraire, in my experience! It may well be that everyone commenting had already done a decent amount of lace / crescent shawl type knitting because the main problems I had with following this pattern were around the things that weren't stated or specified in its pages. There are 2 lace section size options in the pattern that require different amounts of yarn, but there is also reference to another option to make a larger stocking stitch section before you get to the lace, but no clear absolute yarn quantity requirements for each alternative. The pattern also clearly wants you to use stitch markers but I was clueless about how to use these properly when lace knitting and spent some time reading up about lace knitting to work this out, which I did eventually. I don't think either of the problems I had would have caused any issues for the experienced lace shawl knitter so, as I say, I can't knock the pattern for it. Other than that, the pattern is straightforward enough, you just need to really concentrate and keep checking your stitch count – hence all those little markers…
Most shawl knitters seem to use circular needles to knit, which makes sense if you knit a lot of shawls, which often call for you to carry a lot of stitches. I do knit on circulars when I'm knitting in the round, but they're never my first choice – my hands and arms are much more used to straight needles, so that's what I used for this. The shawl looked super weird when I first got started though:
The open side to the right is the cast on edge and what will eventually be the top, neck edge of the shawl. I found that the stocking stitch section went pretty quick to begin with, although it obviously started to slow down as I increased stitches on every row. I was soon into the lace and beading section though:
I was delighted with how easy it was to add the beads with a 1mm crochet hook, which I'd expected to be super fiddly. With all the increases needed to work towards the picot edging, I very soon ran out of my 'official' stitch markers, so took to using a little pack of gold jump rings that I had. The open part of the jump rings did get caught a couple of times on the yarn, but by and large, they worked great and also looked pretty! 🙂
Probably because this was something new, I knit the shawl quite obsessively and it didn't take too many days (although plenty of hours!) before I was finished. The cast off row took a long couple of hours because you create the picot edging as you cast off, casting on 3 new stitches then casting off 6, from one edge to the other. Once it was off the needles, it looked like a crumpled old shoe!
The beads were already sparkly though 🙂 After weaving in the ends and stitching them into place with matching coloured thread, it was time to start the blocking. Unfortunately, I don't have a special board to do this on, nor those fab looking blocking wires and pins, so I blocked it in sections on the ironing board, which worked just fine:
I put a pin into each picot at the bottom edge and then pinned the top edge so that it was the right shape and just taut – but not too taut. I then placed a damp pressing cloth over the section and pressed it with a medium hot, dry iron. You don't actually push the iron about and 'iron' it, you just hold the iron onto it in small sections for about 3 seconds at a time and that's plenty to set the yarn into shape. The metamorphosis of the shawl after blocking is so exciting! Wwwweeee! It's got wings!
It looks so pretty and delicate:
Are your shoulders cold? No problem:
Want to look all drapey and chic? Okay:
Love those sparkly beads:
Like little shards of amber up close:
And those delicate, prettily curling edges:
Safe to say that I will be knitting this lovely shawl again – probably with this Skein Queen beauty – a 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere blend called 'Enchant' in 'Crocus with Saffron'. Just the thing to go with those pretty little sparkling lilac beads I bought 🙂