Monday, April 16, 2007

She Sells Sea Shells Shawl

This is the first shawl I have designed myself. "Designed" sounds very complicated and may be overstating the case somewhat. I used the formula for a basic square shawl knitted in the round. Cast on a few stitches - I always use the ever reliable "Emily Ocker's circular cast-on" (Seen here from the public side. Isn't it neat?)



Then increase 8 stitches every other round. I designated two stitches at each corner to make the diagonal lines and increased with a simple YO on either side of these two stitches on every public side round. I trawled through stitch dictionaries looking for patterns to insert into my blank "canvas". Since there are so many stitch patterns out there, I thought it best to have a theme. I settled on the sea/shore because I love the sea - ironically, I live slap, bang in the middle of England, just about as far from the sea as it's possible to get on this tiny island. To make up for that I've knitted this shawl.

The first pattern is little shells - it's the 3 x 1 Herringbone stitch from "Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls". It's only a four stitch pattern repeat, so I just worked stocking stitch at the sides until I had enough stitches for another repeat.



When I got fed up of that I worked six round of garter stitch and then four rounds of simple YO, K2tog faggot stitch, to mimic a fishing net, followed by another six rounds of garter stitch.

The next pattern was Fishtail Lace from "The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches". This is an eight stitch repeat, so it fitted in quite nicely.



Again, I worked until I got fed up with it and then repeated the six rounds garter stitch, the four rounds faggot stitch, the six rounds garter stitch.

On to the next pattern, razor shell from Martha Waterman again, an eight stitch pattern repeat.



I did that for a bit (and if I'm honest, I think I should have done a bit more of it than I actually did do) and then launched into the border pattern. The delightful "Ocean Waves", also from Martha Waterman's book.



This is an edging that is "knitted on". You cast on the relevant number of stitches - in this case thirteen, onto another needle of the same diameter used for the body of the shawl. Some people like to use a dpn for this, I don't - too easy for the stitches to slip off the other end. I do like to use a shorter needle, though, as there are usually only a few stitches on the needle. You knit the edging and every time you come up against the live stitches, which are still there on your original needle, you K2tog (or SSK, or whatever you fancy) the last stitch of the edging with the next stitch of the body of the shawl. You then graft together the stitches from the beginning of the edging with those of the end. Simple!

Well, not all that simple, actually. It's bad enough grafting ordinary stocking stitch but when it comes to grafting lace?? However, I found a very neat trick from Robert Powell in "A Gathering of Lace". Basically, you use another ball of the same yarn and the same size needles to knit one repeat of the edging without attaching it to the shawl. You knit the last row of the repeat in a contrast colour and then you join in the main yarn and knit the edging attaching as you go. Here's a picture showing the tab and the contrasting yarn.



When you have completed the edging apart from the last row you cut the yarn, leaving a long tail and use the contrast coloured yarn to guide you in your grafting. Makes it a heck of a lot easier. As long as you remember that you have to pass the yarn through each stitch twice before you drop it off the needle and as long as you leave the contrast yarn in place until you have done that, you have cracked it.

Here's the whole thing, pre-blocking.



A sorry sight.

The magic of blocking transformed it into this:



which looks a whole lot better.

I took the "She Sells Sea Shells Shawl" for an outing into town and was astonished to be accosted (in Marks and Spencer's, no less) by someone who said she wanted to "stalk my knitting". I told her to feel free, whereupon she looked at the shawl, looked at me and said, "You're not Kate, are you? I read your blog." That's the first time I've ever met a blog reader in person. How lovely to be recognized by my knitting.

Diane, this one's for you:



Saturday Field, on a Monday.

18 comments:

Opal said...

Gorgeous design. I love it!

Sue said...

Absolutely gorgeous!

Diane said...

Lovely to meet you in person yesterday. Sorry if I put you off your shopping. Your shawl is fab, its a million times better in real life than it is in photos. Thank you for letting me try it on, even if it was against a background of M&S milk.
Thanks for the field shot, theres something reassuring about a picture of a peaceful local field.

Wendy said...

What a lovely shawl!

Marie said...

it's beautiful!! I'm so impressed. I thought the border wave pattern was particularly nice.

Wibbo said...

That's a beautiful shawl, Kate!

Kim said...

Gosh, you make it sound so easy. It's really gorgeous! You should be proud.

AlisonH said...

Wow, that's gorgeous. Well done!

Mindie said...

Wow, what a lovely shawl. You should turn it into a pattern.

Jennifer said...

I'm a fairly new knitter and will be mebarking on my first lace pattern shortly (http://temptingyarnswip.blogspot.com/2007/04/bella.html). Are there particular lace yarns you like working with and others you don't? For this particular pattern, I wanted something variegated and relatively subtle that can be worn to work.

Jennifer said...

mebarking. *sigh* Should have been embarking. Perhaps I should preview comments or at least read what I type before submitting.

Eva said...

BEAUTIFUL! Wish I had the patients for something like that...

Glynda Black said...

This is a lovely shawl. Thanks so much for posting your information on how you did it. Glynda

Agneta said...

absolutely beautiful. Be proud of the design!!

steel breeze said...

Wow! Beautiful! I am inspired! (a fellow warwickshirian!)

Anonymous said...

Super nice - you're an accomplished designer, even if you do say it was your first try. :)

Riggwelter said...

Oh how wonderful are your shawls? I'm in awe! Simply beautiful.

rabbitIng said...

great shawl, great blog. i have only been blogging for a bit, and am very intermittent - i just find i can blog and knit or knit and live or live and blog, but not blog and knit and live all at the same time. as for meeting a shawl, that's really cool, especially with blogger attached! ;) incidentally, to the person who wrote mebarking, i think that describes me to a 't', great word. and to the person who wrote patients instead of patience, are you a doctor. you see, those little mistypes are actually more fun than boring correct ones. bring them on. ps. can i include you on my bloglist? and also, love the field - don't get many of those in the city of london, more's the pity :(
very very best to you all. :)