Wow wee! You guys are completely amazing. I’ve been totally bowled over by your enthusiastic response to my Settler Shawl design these last few weeks. I’ve recognised lots of your names in the list of purchasers and I’ve been soooo very grateful. Thank you!
It’s all left me feeling really inspired and I’ve already started getting a few more ideas down on paper and into patterns – so watch this space!
While I had fun designing my Settler Shawl, my journey to the final dove blue shawl pictured in my pattern didn’t follow any sort of route that I’d imagined most designers take. I wonder if that’s because I’m pretty new to this designing thing or (most likely) because I tend to get clear about my ideas once I can see them. I’m like that with thoughts too – got to talk to figure out what I think. It’s probably a good thing Mr Myrtle is such a great listener ;)
Anyhow, I thought I’d tell you the story of the Settler Shawl.
Once upon a time a few months ago, after flashing my rather extensive yarn stash to one too many unsuspecting visitors (embarrassingly I’m not sure they even actually asked to see it …) I realised that I needed to take drastic action. Faced with a huge pile of beautiful (and scarily expensive) yarn sprawled over my bed it dawned on me that if I kept adding to my stash in the haphazard manner that I’ve been doing for quite a few years now, I might not live long enough to knit it all! Crikey.
A lot of times I buy yarn with no particular project in mind and I tend to buy new yarn when I cast on something new because invariably there’s nothing suitable in the stash (sound familiar?). Because of this (aside from a few piles of yarn that’s been bought to make kids sweaters that never eventuated) I’ve got rather a lot of single skeins; lace, DK, worsted – you name it, a few far flung yarns I’ve bought on holiday and a ridiculous amount of sock weight yarn simply too beautiful to be hidden in shoes. Faced with my stash en masse one too many times, I had a flash of inspiration. I decided I would have a bash at “designing the stash”. Ambitious but terribly exciting and immediately my head started spinning with possibilities.
My Settler Shawl was initially going to be knit in this very glorious, rich oceanic yarn. It’s single spun merino (solo) dyed in their “neptune” colourway by the very talented dyers at Sparkleduck. I swatched, tried out my border stitch, liked what I saw, counted my stitches and rows, roughly wrote my pattern and off I went.
Needless to say I cast on a whole bunch of times to get that cast on edge just right. My aim was to make my pattern accessible to new knitters but I also wanted to create as neat an edge as possible without starting with a tab cast on. Nothing like a little streak of perfectionism to make things more complicated for oneself. Finally I got it right and off I went. The garter body with increases every row is a breeze to knit, great to pick up and put down and simple to maintain even coupled with good conversation. So far, so good.
I’d worked out my numbers before I started. I’d played around with how many stitches I’d need to fit in my patterned border into the body of my shawl, how many stitches I liked crossed over one another (and which way they’d cross) and roughly how big it’d all get.
So onto my lacy pattern I went. Whoops. hadn’t quite thought through making my lacy holes alternate rather than stack on top of one another while also factoring in the increases along the side edges. More maths and fiddling later and I had it sorted. So much maths! So much fiddling!
Happily everything flowed rather nicely from then on in. The lace was coming together nicely, the edges kept growing into a beautiful curve …. but then I noticed something else …
Yip. My ball of yarn was growing too small too fast. The game of yardage chicken began.
Sparkleduck’s Solo base has less yardage than your average sock weight yarn it’s only 366m per 100g and I think re-fiddling my pattern when I hit the border meant I bumped my yardage requirements up a little. Oh dear.
I hate playing chicken with yarn. My palms get all clammy – possibly the worst senario for smooth knitting – I breath too fast and my knitting tends to go a bit crazy. At one moment I’m knitting too fast, the next I’m going super slow and constantly putting my knitting down as if that’ll somehow help make the yarn last right to the end.
But remarkably I got right to the last row. The cast off row. I meekly wished I’d have enough and crossed my fingers and toes, but of course I wanted to use a stretchy cast off that used more yarn than usual so the shawl would effortlessly stretch into a gentle curve. About half way along that very last row I lost the game of yardage chicken.
Isn’t it funny how we sometimes just keep knitting even though we know deep down it isn’t going to work out? I knew I’d run out of yarn. I also knew I liked the pattern just how it was and I wasn’t going to be able to suggest to you that you knit it with a yarn that clearly wasn’t long enough. I knew I’d have to knit my design in another yarn entirely. But still I went on. Just in case. Of course it was super late into the night by now. Everyone else was asleep.
What did I do? I looked at my shawl. It was very pretty and I decided that I wanted to keep it. It’d just need a little help to get finished and I’d do it that very night. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to a finished shawl. So, I ripped back until I was two rows from the end found a rather lovely grape shade of fingering in my stash, knit my last two rows with that, sat back and admired my very lovely new shawl with it’s stripe of colour along the outside edge and then fell into bed happy.
The next morning I pulled out some very beautiful Madtosh with longer yardage from my stash and cast on Settler Shawl again!
Well, I got there in the end. And on the plus side, I’ve now got two pretty shawls :)
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