Thursday, 14 July 2011

Born Stripy

Today's shawl is slightly different. My current enthusiasm is for stripy shawls combining more than one yarn. This one was born stripy.

My friend Katie has just taken the brave step of setting up her own fibre business. Her speciality is combing and blending fibres into interesting roving so of course I had to give it a try. I bought one called embers which is a blend of orange, red and yellow merino with a little alpaca, a little silk and a few sparkles thrown in for good measure.

I haven't spun with such an array of fibres all in the one roving before so I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the fibre was to spin and very soon had a respectable hank of fingering weight yarn.

As the yarn has quite a lot going on I decided that I wanted to choose a pattern that didn't fight with the yarn but also had some interest. The Holden Shawlette seemed to fit the bill.

The stocking stitch body allows the yarn to show off its essential stripyness. I was really pleased at how even and consistently random the striping was - the sign of a good blend.

The lace patterned edge allowed me to play with the striping a little. It was good to see that the pattern and yarn didn't overpower each other.

All in all this was a quick and very satisfying project. I have to say that I usually shy away from fibre that has sparkle in it but to Katie's credit she adds it with a light touch - light enough even for a confirmed wool lover like me. I think this shawl will be a cosy and bright addition to an autumn outfit. But first let's have a bit more summer please!

Katie has written a lovely piece on this project here.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Rocking out with a Flying V

Yes, the stripy knits just keep on coming!

Today's offering is Different Lines, another shawl by Veera Valimaki, the same designer responsible for the Stripe Study Shawl. It has her trademark short row shaping but is worked sideways from one point this time creating a shawl which is triangular like a Flying V guitar or a paper dart.

It makes it very interesting to wear as there are all kinds of possibilities in the way that it can be draped. it does make me wish I was a little more soigne and elegant as I can leave the house with it looking just the way I want it and by the time I have reached the bus stop it's trailing behind me or I'm asking someone on the bus to retrieve the other half of my shawl pin which has landed between their feet.

This time I wanted a lighter, more drapy shawl so I went for Yarn Yard Toddy which is a sock weight merino yarn in a solid grey and a semi solid hot pink and used a 4mm circular needle.

I like the gentle variegation in the pink as it softens the very graphic style of this shawl. My version of the shawl has two extra pink stripes as I wanted to use every scrap of the pink.

People have asked me whether I found so much garter stitch tedious to knit. To be honest, from a process point of view this project is saved from being a completely mindless knit by the short rows. As every row begins with ten, then twenty stitches etc etc the stripe starts to build quite quickly which is more than can be said for the four inches of grey border at the end. There's no getting away from it - it's dull, dull knitting. However, it's absolutely perfect for taking away for the weekend to the Isle of Wight Festival where I could knit along quite happily, chatting to my friends and listening to Seasick Steve, Iggy and the Stooges and Pulp.

Had to put it down when the Foo Fighters came on though - was dropping stitches!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Flying Buttresses

The next shawl in my series of stripy projects was a very speedy knit. Dream Stripes by Cailliau Berangere in some Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4ply in Shrew and Barley. I modified the pattern slightly, giving it a small garter stitch border and emphasising the centre line with yarnovers rather that lifted increases to give the shawl a little more fluidity.

I'm really pleased with the colour combination especially as on their own these colours are both, well a bit dull. Especially Shrew as I have to say the Rowan yarn naming people were absolutely spot on with their description - it is exactly the shade of a little brownish grey , scuttling creature... shudder....

So how come you have it in your stash? I hear you ask. Good point. It might have something to do with a strange disorder which used to come over me in the days when Rowan did really good, woolly wools. It was known as the All Discontinued Rowan Must Be Rescued And Come To Live In My House Syndrome. Yes, even the colours that nobody else wants - because it's half price, it's Rowan and it's DISCONTINUED!! The large bags of Rowanspun, Yorkshire Tweed and Scottish Tweed are witness to my efforts on their behalf.

Imagine my joy when rummaging in my stash for likely striped shawl partners I came up with this two. I think the grey and cream highlight each other very well. The grey lace edge makes me think of ornate Gothic architecture hence the title of this post.

I am looking forward to combing my stash for more unlikely combination in my ongoing attempts to justify my yarn stashing habits.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Earning my stripes

Recently I have become somewhat obsessed with knitting stripes. There seem to be a huge number of new patterns for shawls in particular which involve using two colours of yarn creatively - this usually involves a measure of striping.

The fun starts with deciding which colours go together.... For me that can be quite a drawn out process - I have to be able to see a combination in my mind's eye and be satisfied that the combination makes each colour more 'itself' than on its own such that I can't stop looking at it.

If you could see my coffee table at the moment you would see baskets of yarn, overflowing with colours that I keep moving around until a combination jumps out at me as just right. Of course, as in the case of this shawl, a neutral and an acid colour are an easy partnership. Lime green also happens to be one of my favourite colours.

The shawl pattern that I chose was the Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Valimaki as its asymmetric shape and use of short rows to vary the shape of the stripes was very appealing both in terms of process with the short rows breaking up the prospect of knitting enormous, mind numbing swathes of garter stitch and with the visual impact. I love its clean, graphic lines.

The yarn is Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool, which, whilst somewhat heavier than the recommended yarn has enough drape to work for this project.

I think the end result is quite effective. I love the quirky, asymmetric style of the piece which also makes it surprisingly easy to wear.

Over the next few days I will share with you how severe my obsession with stripes has become...