Way back in September Awana, Jean and I went to an annual Dye Day event and turned this –
Shades of Autumn orangey goodness. Three skeins were an odd tangerine color as a result of being first into the dye pot (more on that project another day.) A bit of brown and a bit more red were added until the perfect color began to emerge.
It was a group effort as everyone was lifting off lids and exclaiming over the colors as they simmered. Should have gotten a total Pounds of Yarn & Fiber Dyed that day, but sadly we were all so busy talking it was impossible.
Anyway. The yarn is nice and bouncy, light worsted weight and I knew I wanted to design and knit a simple shawl, putting the yarn on display to its best advantage.
I have always been enamored of the Hap* Shawl – that most practical of shawls, able to stand up to daily use over or under a coat or just tossed about the shoulders on a chilly morning, comforting and finally worn out with love and decided this would be my goal.
I prefer to knit a shawl from the top down, starting with 13 or so stitches and keeping a few edge stitches in garter to avoid that annoying tendency to curl. Having sold all of the Stash Shawls I had on hand during the blitz of craft faires the Sweatshop Girls attended before the Holidays, I knew it needed to work up fast because we’ve applied to a couple more coming up very soon, so a US #10.5 needle was chosen and off I went.
This is the end result blocking on the floor of the Studio –
The center is plain garter stitch with two Ostrich Plumes repeats giving that wonderful wavy edge. The final two rows and bind off were worked plain with a yarn from the same dye pot that started out a natural gray.
A closer look at the wavy edge before blocking –
You might have noticed the blotches of white here and there, a consequence of having the ties a bit too tight in places – the dye couldn’t penetrate to the center of the skeins in those places. While some see this as a flaw, I see it as an Artful Variation, something you just don’t get with factory yarn 🙂
I’ve had it in mind to publish a group of patterns detailing the construction and use of the Hap shawl for some time now. What say you?
* Hap is a general term for a cover-up to keep warm. Traditional Shetland Hap shawls are square in shape, with the “half-hap” being half a square, making this shawl technically a half-hap.
After taking a much-needed week off from the world, we’re back in the saddle and moving forward with 2015 goals, one of which is to get all of my knitting patterns revised, updated and back online for sale. To that end, two free patterns magically (re) appeared on the Starting Over Designs website on a brand new Free Patterns page with links to download them from Ravelry (no, you don’t have to be a member of Ravelry to get the downloads, but, really, if you’re a knitter you should belong to Ravelry. Srsly.)
The first is a simple neckwarmer pattern –
Any yarn, any gauge, make it loose like the model above…er…the neckwarmer is loose, not the model…uh…or make it fit snugly. Either version (and there’s also instructions for a ribbed version – pics if you knit it up and I’ll post with full credit here, please?) has a flared lower end that fits over the shoulders and stays in place under your coat.
Also up is a cuff-down short-row heel sock pattern –
Knit in worsted weight yarn, these socks are a great introduction to the short-row heel and won’t take forever to finish. I always shudder when a prospective sock knitting student expresses their desire to knit socks with “sock yarn,” especially if they’ve never knit with DPNs because it takes freakin’ forever to knit a pair of socks on US#0 needles and if you’re learning the techniques for the first time as well, you’re setting yourself up for an exercise in frustration.
While I’m expounding on socks, let me just say that I knit my socks very tightly and I do it for a reason: back in the early days of my sock knitting career I was learning what gauge was all about (self-taught, not a knitting teacher as far as the eye could see) and what worked for my particular feet and like most newbies I used the gauge and needle size printed on the yarn ball band as a guide.
My socks were successful for three wearings and then the bottom of the heel just gave out. Just. Gave. Out. Gone. All that knitting wasted.
A bit of time under my Thinking Cap and I came to the conclusion that, for me, socks need to be knit quite firmly or they will wear out on the bottom of the heel and at the point of my big toe. The simplest way to get the gauge that works for me is to knit worsted weight yarn on a US#3 needle. The resulting fabric is firm and wears very well. My skin can’t be seen through the fabric when the socks are on my feet and I think this is the most important requirement when knitting socks you want to last awhile.
Now, I’ve been told that my sock knitting gauge is “constipated,” and it’s fine for you to believe that and to scoff, but in the end, I’ve had some of my wool socks for the better part of ten years now and they’re still going strong. Can you say the same?
Where was I? Oh, yes! When I teach a sock knitting class I encourage my students to knit the first pair for themselves using worsted weight yarn and a US#3 needle. The “course” is three classes spaced a week apart and the final class is spent with finishing and discussing changes to be made to future socks to make them even more custom fitted. I have been known to write up a personalized pattern for those who have hard-to-fit feet because I believe the whole point of knitting socks is to have warm feet, but more importantly, the socks should fit their intended feet perfectly.
There are few things in life more enjoyable than custom wool socks on a cold Winter day.