A couple of week's ago the weather suddenly turned cold. As a knitter, my cupboard is well-stocked with woolly hats, gloves and scarves, but as soon as the cold snap hit I realised a large gap in my winter wardrobe: I shawl that goes with any of my coats!
Before I had children, I had coats in several colours, mostly cosy woollen coats, with a waterproof for cycling and damp spring days. And since I've had children my coat wardrobe has been reduced to a ski jacket and a waterproof, both purple, and a smarter jacket which is black, but only appropriate when the weather is rather warmer. When I looked in the cupboard to get a scarf out I discovered that all my current scarves are blue.
My solution to my mismatched scarf problem was an obvious one: knit a new scarf. So a couple of weeks ago I spent the morning wandering round my house with a skein of purple chunky weight yarn draped round my neck. The yarn was Artesano British Wool (long since discontinued), a chunky weight yarn in a solid purple that was just the right colour, but I was a little concerned it might not be soft enough to wear around my neck. After an hour of having the yarn around my neck, with no itching, I decided that the yarn would be great for a big, chunky shawl to get me through the colder months.
|Yarn testing: an unusual necklace|
The next step was to hunt Ravelry for a chunky weight shawl pattern, and I came up with two likely contenders: Offhand Lace by Caitlin ffrench and Maya's shawl by Justyna Lorkowska. Both were what I was looking for: a straightforward, quick knit that I could have knitted before the weather got any colder.
I cast on Offhand Lace, and made several mistakes in the first few rows. I have no idea why (possibly the stinking cold I had at the time), but I just couldn't follow the pattern, so gave up and cast on Maya's shawl instead, with much more successful results.
The body of Maya's shawl is a simple stocking stitch triangular, so I worked away on the shawl happily on the train to London, and at various points over that weekend. Several Ravelry projects had noted that the shawl came it smaller than they'd like, so I increased until I had 161 sts before starting the lace.
The lace border went well at first, with the leaves being just challenging enough to be interesting to knit, while not being too slow. I did struggle with the simple lace border though, for some reason I find I am prone to messing up simple stitch patterns that involve a lot of repetition, and that was certainly the case here, with the seven rows of simple lace taking me several sittings.
The pattern suggested going up a couple of needle sizes for the cast off, but I was being lazy and just did Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off as it saved going to hunt for another set of needles. I then darned in the ends and admired my new shawl.
Before blocking the shawl, I wrapped it round my neck bandana-style, which is how I wear shawls, and immediately had a panic about it not being big enough. I always do this with shawls; I pay little attention to gauge or finished dimensions (though I do often hold the centre of the shawl at my chin and see if half the shalw is about the same length as my arm - if it is, then the shawl should be a good length for wrapping), and am then concerned that the shawl will be too small. Rather than dwell on sizing issues, I put the shawl in the washing machine on a hand wash cycle and went out for the day.
When I got in later in the day, I pulled the shawl out of the washing machine and realised there had been no need to worry, the shawl is huge! I pinned it out to block and the span is over two metres.
And here it is, my finished shawl. The colour is perfect, and it definitely goes with all my outerwear, I just hope the weather is cold enough that I actually get to wear it this winter.
I wrote the text for this post before I had worn the shawl out. There is a problem: even after my testing for itch, it is too itchy! I am very wool-sensitive, so I knew it was a risk. I am now trying to decide what to do with the shawl. Step one will be to take it to my knitting group on Monday night and see whether it's just me that finds it too scratchy...
|Huge, wonderful, but rather itchy|