About a month ago lovely Louise Hunt of The Caithness Craft Collective podcast set up an unkal over on Ravelry……it’s a really different kal/unkal to ones I’ve seen before…she’s split it up into 3 divisions…..division 1 is Leave it (I really want to laugh becasue when Louise says “Leave it” on her podcast she uses a very stern deep voice, and sounds like she’s doing her Grant Mitchell voice, but with a lovely Scottish accent)…this is for a project that you’ve had tucked away or forgotten about…you love it but you haven’t been working on it in an age…you’re asked to get it out, keep it somewhere where you’ll see it, and then on June 1st take a picture with the date showing you’ve not been working on it…and then if you can try and finshed it by September 1st. I love this division and have entered my grannies paperweight blanket as those woolly tails weren’t sewing themselves in like I had hoped they might….. I’m not doig the 3rd division as that is for frogging and I don’t have anything that needs that doing but division 2 in to knit your “unicorn”….a “unicorn” isn’t what you think but is instead a project you want to knit but there isn’t a current kal for it, and you just want to do it, it’s a project you’ve been loving for a while but hadn’t found the time to knit it…..
Some time ago I’d seen a Moonraker shawl and thought it looked so clever but I couldn’t knit, it didn’t quite capture my heart like the Open Sky shawl and make me pick up the needles with shawl lust but I still really liked it, anyway once I was feeling more confident with my knitting I happened to see another picture of a Moonraker inspired shrug and thought now I can knit I know what I plan to get on my needles next so bought the pattern…..but I actually found the pattern at first look a bit puzzling and couldn’t understand what I was being told to do….I’m one of those people who needs to be shown how to do something rather than just read instructions and luckily lovely Anne was on hand to show me quite what I had to do to make the “woolly pips” that thread along the pattern……but then it sort of got sidetracked by my sock knitting.
Once the third pair of socks had been cast off I sat down with the Moonraker pattern and after a morning of concentrating and numerous cups of tea something clicked and I was knitting it quite happily. As I’ve mentioned before I don’t have a huge budget for yarn, so I had a think about what I had in my yarn stash and thought about the fat skeins of tapestry wool I’d bought late last Summer…..the skeins are huge and I thought they’d be great for knitting and so cast on…….about 6 or 7 inches in I had a bit of a re-think as the tapestry wool was actually a bit heavy for the whole shawl so I had another rummage and found some skeins of Artesano alpaca and silk that I’d sort of forgotten I even had….oddly the colour was actually almost the same shade as the tapsestry wool .. So another cast on and this time the fabric flying off my needles was drapey and light, lovely and floaty…..
I started off by using Knitpro rosewood needles that I bought from MeadowYarn which is one of my favourite shops….(it’s all on-line and lovely Anj only lives a mile or so away from where I grew up in Suffolk. Her customer service is 5 star.) These were perfect with the heavier tapestry wool however once I switched to the alpaca silk I had to drop down a couple of sizes and have switched to first an Addi needle and am now on some Knit Pro zings which I’m finding very light and comfortable. I love using wooden needles first and foremost and wish Brittany made circular needles as those are my most favourite brand in the world. They feel so right in my hands and the sound of them gently clicking with the shuffle of something sheepy is so satisfying…very comforting.
The top three pictures are from when I was using tapestry yarn so you can see how similat the alpaca/silk is.
I didn’t have money to buy other shades of the alpaca/silk so used what I knew I had lots of….tapestry wool, and I really like how the pips are coming out, all fat and squishy… the origninal pattern only called for a few colours but I realy wanted this to be a bright and cheerful as possible. The pips themselves are fat and podgy, so much nicer to squidge than bubble wrap.
The shawl construction is very nice to work and while I was working on this sherbety pip one I also made and finished one in un-dyed Nature’s shades that has barely left my shoulders since it was blocked.
I like that the garter stitch rows are really easy to count and keep track of where you are in the pattern, I still find this a bit hard in stocking stitch…the increases/decreases are simple to remember and the woolly pips…well they own my heart.
I tried to look for colours that matched what I was seeing outside, all spring blossoms and new leaves appearing in hedgerows and along verges……tapestry yarn is also really easy to spit and splice so you can soon make two shorter pieces into a longer workable length……however, after the horrified look I got from someone last Friday when I did this in public it might be best to do the joining at home….
I like the back of the pattern almost as much as the front, the woolly pips are all tucked in quite safely….there will be a few tails to sew in but I laugh at the thought of 56 tails compared to the many thousands I’ve had to deal with on my grannies paperweight blanket.
Progress is coming along quite nicely and up til now it’s been quite manageable to have in my basket when I’m on the bus, in fact last week I had a couple of lovely chats with ladies who were very curious as to how I was knitting and making the pips……I’m not shy about knitting in public as I used to crochet on the bus all the time…and have met and chatted to so many really interesting people, heard stories about mums and grannies who knitted from delightful elderly gentleman who when reminiscing became all sparkly eyed…..ages and ages ago I was crocheting on the London Underground (a rare day trip to London) and when I looked up to check which station we were at saw a sea of smiling faces as people looked to see what I was doing.
I think this is my favourite row so far…these colours are just so perfect ….makes me fair beam from ear to ear to see them. The bottom colour is quite a lilacy blue and it sits with those greens so well.
Now I’m not sure if I’m hormonal or what but I felt the need for some proper purples……I’m still rather in two minds about my choice of colour here but I’m keeping it in…..I ran out of yarn for the bottom pip so spit spliced another shade in and then when I worked the second row of the pip found it formed a nice dark/light coffee bean shape.
And I’ve made a mistake…nothing major like too many stitches or something that needs serious adjusting or frogging but I forgot to tuck the yarn behind when I was working the last purple pip in the second row….once the shawl is finished I’ll go back and sew over it in a little left over yarn so it doesn’t get snagged…..
What I’m finding however is how heart sick I feel for sheep wool on my needles…….the alpaca/silk is lovely and light, it’s incredibly soft and feels like when I stroke around Bernard’s ears…..but I miss the playfulness of real wool. I loved knitting the Nature’s shades shawl, it smellt so good and the feel and texture of the woolly yarn is what I want from my knititng. I don’t think I’m going to be a knitter that has her head all turned by merinos and silks…but instead crave yarn that shuffles over the needles, smells sheepy when it’s wet or warm, and which has tiny strands of unruly kempiness to surprise. This little clip of Anna Maltz really captures how I feel….
I’m so glad that Louise set up the unkal, I’m really enjoying taking part…and if you have a care to then you should pop over and listen to her podcast, it’s very funny and she’s got a smashing voice to listen to.
Also, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to Yarndale, the other day they put a picture of my grannies paperweight blanket on their facebook page (which I’m not on myself but my big sister sent me a message to let me know)…apparently people have been leaving lots of nice comments and it made a real rainbow of a day for me……thirteen years ago yesterday my dad died and I was feeling rather sad and blue, raining in my heart like Buddy Holly the last day or so you know and then when I opened my inbox it was so full and I couldn’t for the life of me understand what was going on……so to everyone who liked it and left nice comments on the Yarndale page and on my blog, it really has meant the world.