Look, a post that isn’t two months’ worth of round up in one go! I actually finished something big enough to warrant its own post! Huzzah!
Last week, I finished the knitting on my Christmas Eve Cast On project, the Half Moon Oracle shawl by Kristen Lehrer of Voolenvine Yarns and Yarngasm podcast. This is the half circle version of the full Oracle shawl that she designed. Personally, I think I would struggle to get as much use out of a full circle shawl (that hasn’t stopped me making a couple, mind you), so I was very happy when she released a half circle version.
The shawl is currently blocking in my craft/music room, although given how chilly it is in the UK this week, it might take a while to dry before I get modelled pictures in proper daylight, but you never know. It’s also sporting practically every pin in the house to get it blocked out nicely – I went through all of mine and then went rooting through the sewing box that I inherited from my grandmother to find hers too! More about the blocking process later…
It’s knit from RiverKnits Splendiferous Sock yarn (70% Superwash Blue Faced Leicester, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere) which is absolutely gorgeous to work with. The colourways are Starry Night (inspired by Van Gogh’s picture of the same name), Blisworth, and Harecastle, and here’s how it looked when I bought it at Yarndale last year (this pic is a little on the dark side):
RiverKnits yarn is my friend Becci and her husband Markus, who run their own yarn dying business from their home on a canal boat, touring around the UK. Most of the time, their laid back lifestyle (ok, I guess it’s probably not laid back allll the time!) gives me some serious envy, although I have to say that I’d never cope with the limited space. I’m far too much of a hoarder for that. Anyway, the yarn – it’s one of the softest things I have ever worked with (second only to the Travelknitter Tanami (50/50 silk and cashmere) that I used in my Wonder Woman Wrap), and the best thing is, I still have about half a skein of each colour left, so there will be matching accessories at some point!
I knit this up on 4mm needles for the body, and 4.5mm for the icord edging, both from my KnitPro interchangeable needles set, as per usual. The pattern is great – none of the sections last too long, which is usually my problem with shawls knit from the middle outwards – the first few rows zoom along and you feel like you’re making great progress, until suddenly you realise that there’s several hundred stitches on the row and it’s taking upwards of half an hour just to get across. Ugh. This pattern alternates lace sections and two colour brioche, with each of the three colourways getting its chance to shine as the lace colour and the front colour for a brioche section, which I love. I think with hindsight I might have switched the colours around in terms of the order I used them, but I still love it.
The pattern is easy to follow and very clear, although I would recommend that if you haven’t knit brioche before, try it on a smaller project rather than learning on this one. There aren’t any increases within each pattern section; instead there is a huge increase row at the end of almost every section which doubles the stitch count.
So, on to the blocking that I alluded to further up… As normal blocking protocol dictates, I put the shawl to soak in warm water (no agitation, obviously, I didn’t want my hard work being felted into oblivion) and left it for ten minutes while I arranged the room so there was enough floor space to spread the shawl out. I fished it out of the water, gently squeezed most of the water out without wringing it, and laid it on a big towel which I then rolled up and stood on to soak up the worst of the water. This is it before its soaking.
In the pattern, Kristen recommends starting with the top line of the shawl and then pinning out by section, which makes sense to a point for me, but as the final lace section was threatening to look a bit ruffle like, I decided to raise up the outer corners a bit. I then worked my way out along the ‘spokes’ of the lace and brioche sections, pinning each section at a time, and stepping back to check it looked at least roughly semi-circular! Once I eventually got to the final section, I pinned it out into points. As you can see, they’re not perfectly even, but I don’t think anyone is going to notice once I’m wearing it.
It’s quite a long time since I knitted a lace project, so I had forgotten how magical this part of the process is! Despite the top edge feeling like it didn’t really have much stretch in it before I blocked it, it’s definitely grown a few inches in wingspan, and the difference in the lace sections opening up is just incredible, and I can’t wait for it to dry so I can see how it looks on.
I’m planning on wearing it to EYF next week (woohoo, so soon!), where Kristen will be in attendance, so I’m going to try and meet her so I can fangirl, I mean, show her my lovely new project and get a pic!