Shawl for an Art Lover

I have finished a real shawl, a real lace shawl! I'm very pleased with myself... But honestly, after I tried knitting the Sabbatical cardigan a few years ago (and failed), I felt so put off lace projects. I received a few tips on Instagram, the main one being stitch markers between pattern repeats. This was a complete lifesaver for me, I could easily figure out where I'd gone wrong and began to be able to read the lace a little (a little!). So I cracked on and worked my way through the charts, setting little targets so I could get through the final chart without losing steam and putting the knitting to one side. I have so many projects I'd like to cast on at the moment, it's been hard to control that urge, writing things down helps me though. Mum bought me a lovely bound notebook for college and it was so nice that I started using it to plan my knitting alongside my college work (and painting).

This shawl is wonderful, I love the size, the shape and the pattern. The design is by Karie Westermann who knit the original in white Kidsilk Haze for her wedding. I knit mine in Hedgehog Fibres Blue Faced Lace, a yarn I've had in my stash for ages, I've been greedily hoarding it! Held it double with some Drops Kid-Silk. I do like HHF's speckling but kind of went off their yarns due to the sodding fluorescent yellow which seemed to be hidden in most of the speckled skeins I bought from them. I used to love HHF but I definitely prefer dyers like Yellow Door Yarn Company, Riverknits, Hedgerow Yarns and LITLG these days. And nothing beats a good single-coloured garment knit using Shetland yarn, nothing!

Here are some skeins I bought recently from Yellow Door Yarn Company, a super Manchester-based dyer who you may find at a yarn show in the UK - I met her at Wool@J13 last year and absolutely love her yarn!! The little sleeve you can see alongside the yarn is my Asbury cardigan, a design by Martin Storey. Pictured prior to its 4th re-knit, I changed the heart motifs to the background off-white colour.

My current projects-in-progress list is quite long, I have my Christmas dress, a Betty Mouat re-knit (I'm re-knitting the top due to bust shrinkage), a Son's Popkes crocheted hedgehog toy for James's birthday, Marie Wallin's Sage dress, a crocheted basket, Granny's paperweight blanket, the Asbury cardigan & a dressing gown (not the massive one from Romantic Style). So 8 in total, not too bad but really not how I like things, I always say I hate having too many projects on the go, it makes me a little stressed.

Out of the list above, three are definite quick finishes. First is the hedgehog toy (above, not mine!), I'm crocheting Realistic Hedgehog this year after crocheting Flims the Hedgehog last year (both patterns by the wonderful Son's Popkes). James is very appreciative of handmade things, he told me last year after unwrapping Flims that it was such a special present because there was love in every stitch. I haven't got any toy stuffing left but realised I could probably collect fleece while we're in the Lake District on holiday, each year there are little bundles of dropped fleece everywhere, they have a name but I can't remember what it is...Give it a good soak and wash and it should be OK!

The other quick finishes are the dressing gown, which is based on Hedgehog Fibres' Feather Weather pattern, just with modifications so it will work as a decent cover-up which buttons across the bust. Then there's my Asbury cardigan, a pattern I'm excited to be working on as it uses yarn generously given to me by a lovely knitty friend (B) as well as being a gorgeous pattern I will get a lot of wear out of.

The above sleeve was one of my early colour combinations, I thought the blue/hand-dyed pink was a bit too garish so I ripped it all out and started again keeping it more neutral using a truly beautiful golden singles yarn.

Ooh, speaking of neutral, look at these beautiful skeins! They are all naturally hand-dyed by Lisa, aka ErickaEckles, another lovely knitter and sewing lady who makes the most beautiful needle cases out of recycled fabrics. She's a whizz at finding great stuff in charity shops and has a lovely lively Instagram account filled with wool, Bernard (her cat) and snapshots of Norwich and nature and wool, of course! We had been chatting about wool and Lisa offered to post me a sample of Norfolk Horn yarn for me to try (I worry about scratchiness), when the parcel arrived I immediately thought I'd impulse-bought more super-soft hand-dyed and felt a moment of buyer's remorse! Then I opened it and wow, I'm so happy! I'm very inspired to try natural dyeing again this summer, aren't the colours beautiful!?


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