A Talisman


Waaaaaay back in 2016 I cast on Helen Stewart’s Talisman Shawl in some lovely Jaeggarspun Zephyr Wool-Silk lace weight in a gorgeous periwinkle color. And, as happens so often, life interfered and the project sat neglected in a corner of my studio for quite a long time.

Until last summer that is, when I was packing up projects to take with me on our gap year - I found my Talisman in a project bag and, realizing that I was more than halfway done, I took it back to Maine with me. It was the perfect project for recovering from jet lag, and I finished the knitting in October.

Talisman Shawl.JPG

And then it languished for a few more months while Alex and the girls and I went off on our big travel adventure. Yesterday I soaked it in some warm water, rolled it in a towel and pinned it out on the bed to dry. Today it went back to DC with my brother as a very belated Christmas gift for his girlfriend. I hope she loves it!

Pattern: Talisman Shawl by Helen Stewart (part of The Shawl Society)

Yarn: Jaeggarspun Zephyr Wool Silk, in color #47

Needles: US 4/3.5 mm and US 5/3.75 mm

Start/finish: sometime in Summer 2016/23 February 2019 (!)

Gauge: forgot to measure, but I suspect its not the gauge given in the pattern (see below)

Comments: the pattern is originally written for fingering weight yarn, but I’d been dying to use this lace weight that had been in my stash for years. I knit the medium size and didn’t use up all of the yarn (630 yd on a cone). It ended up a good shawlette size, and the larger needles relative to the yarn weight mean it’s a lovely open airy fabric.

Talisman blocking.JPG

I also blocked the shawl I knit in Australia - stay tuned for more details on that project shortly.


In the last podcast, Alli and I talked about the new knitalong we're running for the 2015 edition of the Great London Yarn Crawl. Inspired by the idea of The Rhinebeck Sweater (aka knitting a particular item for a particular event), we've launched the new KAL with the goal of knitting objects to wear to the GLYC in September. It started on Monday, and I managed to finally cast on yesterday.

I'm doing the Byatt Shawl by Karie Westermann (who is absolutely wonderful, and who we interviewed on the podcast a few weeks ago about what's happening in the knitting world these days), in some gorgeous fingering weight yarn from Dirty Water Dyeworks. I'm using Juniper as my main colour, and Topaz as the contrast (both on her Lillian base, which is 100% superwash merino).

The first section of the shawl is all one-colour garter stitch, so I'm cruising along. I'm really enjoying the edge made by the increases along the one side of the shawl - the little loops make almost a picot edge. It's not very obvious, but it's a really nice detail.

I'm also really enjoying the subtle variegation in the yarn as it knits up. In the skein, the yarns looked pretty solidly coloured, but there are slight changes to the colour that make for a super rich fabric, particularly in garter stitch. I can't wait to get to the two-colour section to really see how they play together!

If you'd like to join me in knitting something for the GLYC, please do! We've got a thread on the Yarn in the City Ravelry board, and lots of people have posted about what their projects are going to be - I'm impressed by the number of sweaters that will be in the works! And I'm looking forward to bringing this little beauty to Knit Night tonight - nothing is better for pub knitting then garter stitch.


Latticewing in The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering

Latticewing in The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering

For someone who designs knitwear, it's been quite a while since I've released a pattern. There are a number of reasons why I'm really pleased to be letting this design out into the world: first off, this pattern grew out of my desire to use up some really lovely yarn that I'd spun for my Ennea Collective Design, the Fjord Mitts. I cast on for the handspun prototype just after Christmas, when the business of the season meant that garter stitch was really all I could handle.

Latticewing in handspun

Latticewing in handspun

I knit and knit and knit and knit, watching the stripes come up and wondering how far I'd be able to get before I ran out of yarn. Thankfully the yarn held out until the shawl was about as big as I wanted it to be, and I then happily used up all the natural colored Shetland (and then some! Which necessitated some frantic last minute spinning of more edging yarn) in the knitted on edging.

And then the handspun shawl sat for a bit while I pondered a) a smaller version and b) a commercial yarn. A trip to Unravel and a conversation with The Fibre Company resulted in generous yarn support in the form of a couple of hanks of Canopy Fingering in a lovely soft green. A little while later, there was a second, smaller shawl. Then there was a pattern, and a photoshoot on the Dorset Coast path, and now it's ready to be let out of the nest for all the rest of you!

Sizes: small (large), approximately 15 (19) in/38 (48.5) cm deep and 87 (112) in/221 (284.5) cm wide along longest edge after blocking.

Yarn: The Fibre Company Canopy Fingering (50% alpace/30% merino/20% bamboo), 2 (3) skeins, or approximately 400 (600) yds/366 (549) m of fingering weight yarn. 

The pattern is very customizable, and includes instructions for adapting the shawl to your available amount of yarn. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and happy shawl knitting!

Deadlines are very helpful

So. Strangely enough, writing down that I was going to write up that pattern and post an update by this morning meant that yesterday I actually sat down and wrote up the pattern. It's in a rough form, and I need to add the charts, but it is written. A few photos, a bit more formatting, and I can send it off to the tech editor. Accountability works: who knew? 

I'm finding impending deadlines to be really useful in other parts of my crafting life too. In just under three weeks, Porpoise Fur is going to be exhibiting at its first show, the I Knit Fandango. So I've been dyeing like a mad woman (it's amazing how much I can dye when I have a schedule, a plan and - oh yeah! - a deadline), and also trying to knit up some samples for the booth to show off the spun up fiber. On Saturday morning, I cast off and promptly blocked what might be the world's biggest Nymphalidea.

This is knit out of handspun Shetland in "Clotted Cream" and "Yellow Fluorescent Protein". I spun this yarn last year, as part of the Porpoise Fur Two-Color Shawl SAL/KAL (which has sadly gone very quiet over on Ravelry, but I'm going to be resurrecting it ASAP), and finally cast on about a week and a half ago. It flew off the needles, once I decided which color combo to do (yellow welts with white lace, or white welts with yellow lace). 

Yesterday, I started up my second handspun Porpoise Fur Shawl - Penrose Tile, in The Far Pavillions and London Fog, also on Shetland. Bliss...

FO (finally): Windmill Bay Stole

Some projects seem to knit themselves. The rows slip by effortlessly, and before you know it, you blink and there's a finished object lying in your lap. This project? This project was not that kind of project. Nothing dramatic happened - there were no huge instances of user error, no problems with the pattern, no big crises - but it just took forever. That might be because I chose to knit a 6+ foot long scarf out of heavy fingering weight alpaca (ha!), but aside from that unfortunate decision, everything else went smoothly. It also went really, really slowly.

Project: Windmill Bay Stole by Sashka Macievich

Yarn: Garnstudio Drops Alpaca in Olive (which is really more of a chartreuse...), 182 yds/50 gr, 7 skeins

Needles: US 5/3.75 mm

Start/finish: 1 February - 14 April 2015 for the knitting, a couple more days for blocking

Comments/mods: This is one of those rare instances in which I actually knit the pattern in the yarn called for, and I'm glad I did. I saw this particular color of Drops Alpaca at the Knitting & Stitching show in Olympia in 2013, and fell in love. When I found this pattern that called for that exact yarn, there was no question as to which color I was going to get, despite my insistence that I don't really "do" green.

I love love love love the finished stole. I also hated hated hated knitting it. This is not the fault of the designer (it's a well written, clear pattern) or the yarn (which is super soft, a fabulous color and very affordable), but an issue that I think is inherent in knitting long rectangular things that go on forever and don't get any longer no matter how many rows you manage in a three hour session one evening in front of the TV.

The pattern has three sections, each of which is worked for about 24 inches, so that's an awful lot of ribbing/lace/cabled ribbing to slog through. It is perfect for evening TV knitting thought (particularly the ribbed sections), and the results are totally worth it! 

This project was also a really good one for demonstrating the importance of blocking. To whit: before blocking, I had a large, scarf-shaped blob,

Blob o' green alpaca

Blob o' green alpaca

with wonky stitches, and a very uneven, reverse-hourglass shape (the lace middle section was a lot wider then the ribbing on either end).

Oh ugh. What kind of even tension is that I ask you?

Oh ugh. What kind of even tension is that I ask you?

But after a Soak soak, and a couple of hours (well it felt like hours) with my butt in the air and my nose on the carpet, this sucker was blocked and drying.

Even when still wet, just pinning it out did wonders for all those wonky stitches! I blocked the middle section first - not super aggressively, but enough to open the lace stitches out nicely - and then stretched the ribbing to match in width. I didn't worry too much about the length because, as already mentioned, this baby was six feet long before blocking. A day later, I unpinned it and had a wonderful time taking lots of macro beauty shots. Sadly, none of them are modelled yet, as I was flying solo on the photography front, but hopefully I'll get some shots of it in action this week.

Ribbing to lace,

Ribbing to lace,

Lace to cabled ribbing...

Lace to cabled ribbing...

I think that this might be my last ever foray into long stoles - this was supposed to be my February project for the LSG Cold Sheep thread, and it took me almost two and a half months! The next major project I take on is going to need a bit more challenge to keep me motivated. But I can't wait for the next chance to wear this super warm and scrummy scarf!