Ja'ali Stole

When I was seven, my parents moved my brother and I from Deepest, Darkest Cleveland, OH to New Delhi, India. My dad had a Fullbright scholarship, so we spent a year in a far off and very different land. More then thirty years later, I went back for the first time, with my own seven year old (plus her younger sister). In some ways it had changed completely, but in others, it was just as I remembered it: the light was the same, the sounds of the birds in the early morning, the cows wandering through the city streets, and monkeys sitting on fences, waiting for the opportunity to snatch what ever they could right out of your hands.

We went and saw all sorts of sights in the Golden Triangle, and it was an incredible source of inspiration for my designing. The first design that came out of that trip was the Delhi Beanie, with a border inspired by a series of tombs in Delhi. The second one is in Issue 35 of Knit Now - the Ja'ali Stole.

Photo credit Dan Walmsley for Practical Publishing

This pattern grew directly out of my trip to India: one of the almost ubiquitous features of the numerous palaces and tombs that we visited were pierced stone structures called ja'ali. These were basically the Moghul version of window curtains, and served to let in light and air while making it very difficult for anyone outside to see inside.

This picture makes it pretty clear where the stitch pattern came from! I swatched in a number of different yarns, but finally settled on a mohair blend, in two colors to emphasis the eyelets and the solid hexagons.

The perfect finishing touch? A beaded fringe.

The finished stole is a lovely, lightweight wrap that is perfect for summer evenings, or days when you need a bit of extra warmth.

This issue of Knit Now is on sale starting today, Thursday, 29th May, in craft stores, newsagents and supermarkets across the UK. Outside the UK, you can get a paper copy from http://www.moremags.com/knitting/knit-now, or a digital edition from http://www.moremags.com/digital-editions/all-devices/knit-now. You can also get it digitally via Apple Newsstand. 

As a little celebration of the publication of this pattern, I'm going to give away the yarn and beads needed to knit the stole - that includes 5 balls of Wendy Air (70% mohair/30% nylon) in two colors, and approximately 75 faceted glass beads for the fringe. Please leave a comment on this post between now and midnight BST, on Sunday, 8th June, telling me which pattern is your favorite from Knit Now Issue 35*. I'll use a random number generator to pick one lucky winner. Good luck!

* Note: saying that this is your favorite pattern does not increase your chances of winning ;-).

Noordzee and a special Wonderwool Wales offer

I think most designers would agree that sometimes the hardest part of the process is finding the perfect name for our latest creative endeavor. That was certainly true of this month's pattern, until serendipity stepped in with the perfect solution.

I've been working on this lovely little shawlette for the past few weeks, using some absolutely divine yarn from Linda at Kettle Yarn Co (more on that later). It's just the perfect little tidbit to whet your knitting appetite: beads along the border, a bit of lace, some mindless stockinette with short rows to shape the body, and ta da! In very little time you've got a lovely scarf to throw over your shoulders on those slightly chilly spring and summer evenings (aka all of them in the UK). But as of Easter weekend I still didn't have a name. I was well and truly stuck.

On Easter Sunday, I took myself, my new shawl and my husband to the beach to get some photos.  But not just any beach - this was a beach in Holland, where we were visiting for the long weekend. While the girls built sandcastles and entertained thoughts of wading in the water, Himself snapped a bunch of pictures, and commented that the colors of the shawl and the colors on the beach were the perfect match. When I looked at the photos later, I knew I'd found the perfect name: Noordzee (otherwise known as the North Sea).

Noordzee is a fairly simple knit, but the beaded edging and changing short row intervals give it a bit of interest along the border and a somewhat unexpected shape. The short rows first draw the border up in a curve towards the shoulders, but then swing outwards and down, flaring into a shape that looks almost like wings. The piece can be worn as a shawlette (particularly if you block it somewhat aggressively to get the most coverage) or as a scarf for a bit of warmth around the throat.

The yarn for this piece is Kettle Yarn Co's glorious Westminster, a 50/50 blend of camel and silk. It is soft and beautiful to work with - I didn't find it at all splitty - and the silk gives Linda's incredible dyeing skills a lovely shine and luminosity. And here's where the special offer comes in...

If you are at Wonderwool Wales this weekend, I would encourage you to go visit Linda's booth and cuddle her yarns for yourself. If you are inclined to purchase any Westminster while you're there, she will give you a coupon good for 15% off the purchase price of Noordzee. I'd bet you could even find the perfect beads while you're there...

You can find the pattern page for Noordzee here, or click below to purchase it from Ravelry via Paypal. Happy knitting!

FO: Green The Whole Year Round, aka how not to panic

I blocked my latest FO on Saturday morning on Boo's bed while she and her sister played their ongoing, never-ending and incomprehensibly elaborate game of pretend. As I was pinning it out and adjusting the points, and smugly commenting to myself that it was absolutely lovely, I saw it.

You know what I'm talking about. It.

The dropped stitch:

I think all of you who have ever knit lace know the feeling that hit me at that moment - suddenly and completely incapacitating panic:


Thankfully I had enough functioning neurons left to take the first and most important step in a lace (or any kind of) emergency:

Step 1: take your own pulse*

Step 2 really only applies to lace emergencies: stop the drop

In this case, with a handy dandy split ring stitch marker. Stick it through the dropped stitch and bammo - no more dropping.

I took a few moments (ok hours) to regroup and let the shawl finish drying. Then the next step was to fix the boo boo.

Step 3: find an appropriately sized crochet hook and fix the dropped stitch.


Step 4: find darned darning needle somewhere in the morass of chaos you call a desk/office/studio/room full o' wooly goodness, take a bit of leftover yarn, and secure that little barstard tight up against the i-cord bind off.


If done carefully, the result of Steps 1-4 is a invisibly repaired lace piece without having to resort to Valium and/or liters of red wine.

wrong side

right side

I was helped in this instance by a few factors - yarn that wasn't too slippery (100% silk would have been....trickier) and a lace pattern that called for moderate blocking rather then full on Nuclear Warfare blocking. The stitch had only dropped down about 3 rows when I caught it, and there weren't any complicating lace stitches below it to screw things up. That being said, the same sort of fix can be done with more complicated and elaborate lace patterns. The key is deep breathing and going slowly.

Without further ado, my latest FO:

please excuse the bad pretentious iDevice selfies, but I can't find my camera anywhere

Pattern: Green the Whole Year Round by Anna Yamamoto
Yarn: Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply (55% merino/45% silk), 399 yds/100 g, in Cherry. My shawl weighed in at 102 g, and I still have a little bit left over, so the skein might have been a bit heavy.
Needles: US 9/5.5 mm for the cast on, US 6/4.0 mm for the rest of the shawl
Start/finish: 17 January 2014 - 1 February 2014. Knitting done by 29 January, but, you know, blocking...

Comments/modifications: I made one major modification, which was to cut out one pattern repeat to make the shawl slightly smaller. I was worried I was going to run out of yarn (it calls for a full skein of sock yarn, so 440+ yds) and my yarn was slightly heavier, so I figured it would still end up big enough. The final dimensions of my shawl are 16 in deep at the middle and just over 50 in long, so about the same size as the original pattern.

Now for the comments portion of the evening: since doing more tech editing I find myself incapable of reading patterns without a running (usually waaaaaay more snarky then necessary) internal monologue. I try to keep this to a minimum, particularly with a lovely pattern like this which is provided for free. But sometimes I can't help it. I had two major problems with this pattern:

1) the designer includes charts AND written directions for every single line of the lace pattern, WHICH IS FANTASTIC! However, the symbols used in the charts were not ones with which I was familiar. The biggest brain cramp for me was that the symbol that I usually associate with a knit stitch (a blank square) was, in this pattern, the symbol for a purl stitch. Cue headache...

2) Problem 1 was exacerbated by the fact hat I didn't find the key to the charts until I was doing the short row section of the shawl (in other words, was done with the lace section). This is because the key was on the very last page of the pattern, and not with the charts. To solve my confusion, I ended up having to go back and forth between the written directions and the chart to decipher the symbols.

So really, these two problems were mostly on my head, for not hunting harder for the chart key, but I also think that they could have been avoided by putting the key with the charts. /end grumpy porpoise

The pattern is otherwise very well written and put together, and the final shawl is gorgeous. As soon as I get my act together it will get packaged up to off to it's recipient.

And now that it's finished, I can get back to my Unravel sweater...how's everybody else doing with theirs?

* When I was teaching newbie Ski Patrollers in college, this was A Real Thing. Just the act of stopping to take your own vital signs is enough to stop the freeze up that can happen in critical situations. 

Fiber Friday: Messier 51

At the beginning of the year, I made myself a really quick and fun hat from some gorgeous handpainted singles.
I'm pleased to say that, not only have I finished working up a handspun version, but the pattern is just about ready for release this evening.

 This version was worked up in 100 yds of Corriedale singles in the "Parakeet" colorway (spinning and prepping of the singles was blogged about over here at the Porpoise Fur blog). With that minimal amount of yardage, I ended up with a hat that is slouchy on Dev, but a closer fitting toque on me. Perfect!
The pattern for this hat, Messier 51, is going to go live sometime this evening. Shortly thereafter, the next issue of the Porpoise Fur newsletter will go out, and will include a coupon code for getting that pattern for free. In addition to the actual knitting pattern, the file also includes instructions and tips on spinning singles. If you're interested in getting this little beauty for yourself (it's perfect for holiday knitting!), please go over to Porpoise Fur, and sign up on the right sidebar for the newsletter to get your free copy. Happy November everyone!