A sheepy scented shawl…warning there’s waffling…

garter stitch edging along the open sky shawl

Wishing you all a most marvelous New Year, fingers crossed it’s a year over brimming with happiness, laughter, good times all round…we can but only hope and do our best…after what was at first a bit of a rubbishy start to the Christmas holidays, we actually had a nice, restful break, just the three of us, some old tv box-sets including all the lovely BBC Narnia Chronicles which I don’t think I’d actually seen in their entirety before.

Christmas Day afternoon saw me sitting on the sofa with a fat pot of tea by my side, and after a deep breath, and big hug to give a last fond farewell I began un-ravelling my Open Sky shawl…as readers of my blog know, I’ve pretty much just learn to knit, while I could do very simple garter stitch or stocking stitch for dishcloths though even then I needed a lot of quiet and if mistakes were made then everything would have to be un-ravelled and I’d just have to start all over again…..this all began to change at the end of the Summer, after deciding it wasn’t very likely a fairy godmother was going to magically appear and swoosh her wand, if I was going to learn how to knit I’d better start by practising and teaching myself…so with the help of an old Harmony knitting guide I slowly began to cast on, and generally just have a little play to see what I could do…and you know what…something seemed to just click and my knitting looked okay.

Then I fell in love, hook, line and sinker…I saw this shawl on Instagram and was right on the verge of asking a very kind knitting friend if she’d be able to knit if for me, then I stopped and thought, no, I wanted it so bad I thought I’d just have a try and knit it myself.


garter stitch and clover leaf

So I bought the pattern, and slowly cast on to began to knit the shawl…it felt amazing knitting it myself…the best way to describe it was like when you first learn to ride a bike, turning round to see your dad isn’t holding your seat anymore and you’re actually cycling all by yourself….wheeeee.

And that’s just how I still feel to be honest, I still can’t believe the slowly growing fabric in my lap is something I’ve knitted, there’s a pattern in the stitches, holes that are meant to be there and it doesn’t look like something the cat has coughed up (my first attempt at crochet looked particularly grim).

increases and a woolly haze


The wool I used was from Jamieson and Smith, I’d bought one of their shade-cards at the start of the year and had been half dreaming of making something with their wool, though back then it had been crocheting an edging for my grannies paperweight blanket.  The wool I’ve chosen for the shawl was their Shetland Aran, which sadly is now discontinued but I’ve just checked their site and they still have some left and the colour range is so nice.

It feels lovely to use, it sounds quite raspy and shuffly as it moves through my fingers and over the needles….and when I’ve needed to un-ravel then it holds the stitches very well so I can slip my needle back in before they slip away to the row underneath.

Finally I cast off the last stitch and had hoped to be all Isadora Duncan and be shawl flinging and dancing around…and ended up half near strangled, I’d knitted up the shawl far too tight and hadn’t even thought to do a gauge/tension swatch…So I was a bit cross with myself but wasn’t going to give up quite yet.  I’d already made some mistakes while knitting, and for the most part learnt to correct them myself….actually I learnt to correct all my mistakes…to begin with I’d un-knit the row and keep count of the stitches, and before too long I could see what I’d done wrong…then one of those lovely serendipitous moments happened, I found the funniest video by Stephen West…and was determined to not be a waffle or a quitter.

(Actually I wrote a lot more about this just here)

Open sky shawl in Jamieson and smith wool

I’m not sure if Bernard thought all the un-ravelling was the greatest game in the world, he pretty much buried himself under the wool and made the loudest purrs….then Boxing Day I got up very early and began to cast on the shawl again.  When I knew I’d knitted the first shawl wrong, I made some swatches with the remaining wool in a series of different needle sizes, and am thinking I’m a bit of a tight old knitter.  The pattern has called for a 5mm needle but to get the gauge asked for I’m having to knit using a 6mm.  I sort of twigged I wasn’t going to have enough wool so bought 4 more balls before Christmas, thinking any left over can be used in a hat or pair of wrist warmers.

When I began trying to cast back on I kept getting in a bit of a pickle and after I think the third attempt decided to start off with one of the rich sheepy scented new balls then work in the un-ravelled wool as I progressed…… I think I spent nearly all the holidays on the sofa with a gradually increasing shawl and a big pot of tea never that far away….and yes, there’s been a few mistakes, often daft ones where I wasn’t paying attention…and after knitting up some swatches for the Knit British British Breed Swatch KAL over on Ravelry, I’ve gained a bit more confidence so at one point where I’d made a mistake about 15 rows earlier, I just went “oh do it”, slipped out my needles and just un-ravelled….just down to where I needed, and then carefully, picked up my stitches and carried on, quite happily with a rather impressed looking boyfriend sitting beside me.  (okay, I like to think he looked impressed, but I suspect the reality was he thought I was a loon for un-ravelling as he couldn’t tell where a mistake had even been made.)

open shawl pattern with stitch markers

Something I’ve found helps me keep my place better is to use plenty of stitch markers, and almost every row they’ve saved my bacon as the odd yo or psso seems to get forgotten about.

I love this wool so much, it smells so good, and I can’t help think of that as the “baa ram ewe” factor….I’ve tested one of my swatches by pinning it under my thermals to see how it is against my skin, and while there is a first ripple of feeling something there, it’s not unpleasant and once I’ve made this shawl I’ll certainly be thinking of something else to knit with it next…..I’m hoping there’ll be enough wool left to knit a matching beret style hat or something.  I’ve also tied pinning a swatch to my clothing to see how it wears and it’s still looking good so I’m thinking this would be rather splendid for a cardigan.

I’m thinking my knitting looked nicer when I used a smaller needle, my original shawl was knitted on a 4mm needle (which explains why it was so tight), the wool is rather less forgiving on the larger needles, but I’m sure it’s going to look grand when it’s wrapped round me a few times.

Sorry for waffling away, I’m just so happy to be knitting this shawl again (and it’s feeling a long more drapey and shoulder flingy than the first one.)



18 thoughts on “A sheepy scented shawl…warning there’s waffling…

  1. Your waffle is great, especially if it makes me laugh and you always do it! I now see you shopping the market in a yellow shawl swishing round your shoulders, matching beret perched jauntily on your head with rather lumpy looking legs where you have knitted yourself some long-johns!!! I have just put a shawl knitting pattern in my ravelry queue and I just need to find the perfect yarn now 🙂

    1. I don’t need long johns for lumpy legs, I’ve got some “getting rather impressive looking” varicose veins on my left leg which are quite lumpy enough xx Have you looked at the Skein Queen website, it’s full of lovely shawl wool.

  2. Happy New Year. Your shawl looks fabulous already. The thought of ripping back any knitting fills me with dread. I need to learn though, as my last pair of socks had lots of ignored mistakes. I keep reading about lifelines in knitting which sound really complicated but seem to save the day for lots of people. If you like neat stitches then you should knit socks! The tiny stitches are so satisfying, even if they take a while to build up. I am going to try 6ply socks next to see how they compare to 4ply ones. One of my aims for this year is to knit more, I am currently saving all of Kate Davies designs in case I can suddenly do more than a basic knit or purl!

    1. You’re fair too kind..using 6mm needles means my stitches look proper wobbly, you can see the variations in sizes as I struggel to hold the wool right, I kind of hold it all crabby clawed I took part in the small gestures swop over in the Knit British group on ravelry and was kindly bought a sock pattern called “reasons to be cheerful” so thsoe will be my first socks I try…I also got bought the Ramona cadigan pattern so the world is going to be my knititng oyster this year.
      I bought some Knit pro interchangeable cables and have been trying out a pair of their Karbonz in the shorter length and I think they’ll be great for socks. I’d like to try socks then I could knit my boyfriend something (he doesn’t do jumpers or cardigans, and he doesn’t like scarves…but oddly is all for blankets when he’s feeling poorly)

      1. Ooh those socks are lovely. I have also looked at the Ramona cardigan, it appealed because it is an aran knit. For some reason I bought 7 hanks of artesano 4ply in green last year to knit a cardigan but the thought of how long it will take is a bit off putting. I can’t start anything until I finish a crochet shawl I have just started though, which will give me time to buy needles. I shall have a look at the knitpro ones.

    1. Thank you so much, yeah the colour is really great, it’s pretty flat which is what I was after, but so rich and pigmenty….makes me think of when I used to make carrot cake using yellow carrots….

  3. I’ve just followed the link from Sharon’s blog and yours is lovely! I’m in awe of all that unraveling you’ve been doing, you obviously have a good deal more patience than I do. I’m more inclined to give up and hide things away when they go wrong! I look forward to seeing the finished shawl.

    1. Hi, I never think I’m very patient but a lot of people seem to think I am, I guess it comes from just not minding being slow.. I couldn’t have worn the shawl as it was so un-ravelling was the only option…and I learnt so much from knitting that first shawl, my knitting confidence has really grown so there was definelty a silver lining in making those mistakes.

    1. Please don’t let it put you off, you know by knitting the first shawl I learnt so much, checking the gauge/tension obviously the main one, but even when I made mistakes (forgetting to knit and purling instead, or no knitting stitches together) it wasn’t the end of the world, as I began to slowly understand how to correct them, it really was the best way of learning…it’s a rare grey cloud that doesn’t have a silver lining somewhere……my best advice would be to buy a nce pair of needles (Brittany wooden ones are my favorite) and some nice feeling proper wool (the price of a couple of lattes and will give you no end of pleasure) and just have some fun…when you need to un-ravel (and you will) it’s no a problem….just have a play….I like lknitting dishcloths and my “delightfully dishy” cloth is really easy…then once you know the basics try the shawl yourself…the sense of achievement you’ll get is wonderful….but if knitting isn’t for you, what about learning to play a musical instrument? (I’m still wanting to buy a wooden recorder so I can re-learn as I used to play it when I was at school) xx

      1. It’s too late for me and musical instruments I’m afraid! But I think knitting is still on the agenda somewhere. I know the very basics, it’s just that me and crochet really worked. However, knitting is supposed to be easier to pick for a crocheter, rather than a knitter trying crochet. We shall see…

      2. It’s never too late for anything…I thnk if you find something you like then it’s such an incentive to learn, be that a shawl or a piece of music (there’s apiece by Bach that i love which is why I want to re-learn the recorder, then I can delight myself by playing it whenever I want)

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