Dark woods and a wild wolf Karise…..

a fairy tale red....

Sometimes what you’re reading starts to inspire you in secret ways, certain foods eaten within the pages can change your dinner plans, and clothes and colours can influence your wardrobe… this was very much the case last April…about halfway through reading this book by Alice Hoffman (along with Angela Carter she’s one of my favourite writers) I started remembering a shawl, the deepest darkest red, the hue of Powell and Pressburger’s red shoes and as dangerous as Sister Ruth’s lipstick…. Ever since I first saw The Company of Wolves I’ve wanted a red cape like Rosaleen’s and as I read more and more of the book, in the shadows of my imagination I began to picture, instead of a cape, a shawl… Quite by chance I then saw a photo of this deepest, darkest red dyed by The Countess Ablaze …. It’s 100% wool and the breed is North Ronaldsay…

When I first learnt about these little sheep and their seaweed eating ways, they made me think of something Angela Carter would write about in her stories, something slightly off kilter, unusual, a magical animal from a Brother’s Grimm Folk Tale that you could imagine talking or having special powers…

the lace pattern is growing

With no real pattern in mind I just ordered two skeins of the yarn, it’s a laceweight (with 500 metres per skein) so I knew two skeins would be enough to knit something nice and floaty but I didn’t really have any exact pattern in mind…. but as is the way when you’re knitting, your mind can wander off, think about other things, and little connections from here and there begin to join up…

There are two shawls I’ve now knit more than any other, Ishbel by Ysolda Teague and Karise by Karie Westermann…Both of these are delicate, elegant and beautiful, and are rarely ever off my knitting needles…

The patterns are charted and I kept looking back at them and began a wondering what if….could I….perhaps combine them… so with a big notepad of graph paper (and lots of glue and tape to make the sheets of paper even wider) I began to first draw out the shaping for Ishbel, and then began to plot down the lace pattern for Karise… there’s a bit of a difference between the two, mainly that Ishbel has increases on the purl side edging as well as the front so that it widens out more than it drops and deepens.

To double check that what I was doing would work, as well as drawing up the chart, I also found it really helpful to knit up a really small version of the shawl so I could check what I needed to do at the sides so that the pattern would work with the extra increases at the back…I just used some old Rowan yarn that had been in my stash for ages, I think it’s a dk but it’s nice in that I could see exactly what my stitches were doing and where the pattern had to change

the shawl inspector

I’ve mentioned Bernard’s love for the warm and woolsome before and this yarn was no exception, pretty much from the start he’d find a way to have a little forty winks on it, even going so far as to scoop it out of whatever knitting bag it was in…. I never have the heart to move him though so just let him decide for himself when he’d napped enough….

This was defintely one of the advantages of using such a nice woolly yarn, any slight paddy paw plucking was easily stretched and pulled back into place without any upsets.

frothy stitches

It’s probably not so easy to see in this picture, but the cleverness and beauty of Karie’s lace pattern for the Karise is that it starts off quite solid and then shifts to open up and become more etheral… She has told me that the name of the pattern was inspired by Karise in Denmark that has a Fairy Hill and I certainly can imagine some fae sprite wearing one of these to keep warm in the Winter….

The North Ronaldsay yarn was a perfect choice as its really nice and woolly, what I think of as a sheepy yarn, and it’s proper crisp so that the stitch definiton is excellent, which makes it easier to read your stitches when you’re knitting… this pattern always looks best when it’s knit in a proper wool yarn that holds it’s stitches…

Wider knit KariseSo this is my tah dah moment…. I’m really pleased with how this has come out, as you can see it’s certainly a nice large shawl… size wise it’s 108 by 39 inches (274 x 100 cm) but it’s as light as light and still wonderfully warm without being all too much and suffocating feeling….(which is quite handy as I started my hot flushes just before Christmas so my clothes are currently doing a hokey kokey, on and off, on and off again…this though is just perfect, not too heavy and enough to keep the chills away)…

I actually finished the shawl back in September and have worn it a fare bit but suddenly realized I’d not photographed it so the points are looking a little less than eye pokey to when I first un-pinned it, and the edges have rolled in rather, but I think it still looks pretty good.wrapped up warmEven though it is big, I think it’s still nice and wearable as I can really wrap myself up in it, (if you ever watched Larkrise to Candleford then you can picture me wearing this like Laura’s mum wore her house haps….. there is a little bit of a tickle with the yarn, it’s quite dry and shuffley between my fingers so it might not be the most suitable to wear under your chin if you are more sensitive, but if you don’t mind a yarn that’s a bit wild and frolicsome then this is ideal.Back detailI like this picture because you can get a nice idea of the central triangle that is worked in stocking stitch, how the yarn is dyed is beyond me, somehow The Countess has conjurred up shadows and what I think of as lipstick smudges and this all looks dappled when the yarn is knitted up…

Because I knew this was going to knit up on the roomier side of things I increased my initial stitch count to 195 stitches before working the lace pattern,  because of how the increases on the purl side shift things, the pattern is worked over 16 rows… I really enjoyed playing around with the maths and feel so happy to have joined together my two favourite shawl patterns, and if you’d like to read more notes and calculations then you can find them on my ravelry project page… very special thank yous to both Ysolda and Karie for writing lovely to follow patterns with clear charts which helped me no end, and to always awesome Lindsay (The Countess) for dyeing yarn that just looks so delicious.

Deep red KariseAt the start of the year, lovely Louise who does the Knit British Podcast did a big review of North Ronaldsay British Breed yarn, the yarns came from all over England, but were all single breed North Ronaldsay… some of the yarns were quite bitey and crisp, but there were others that were surprisingly soft, these had had the guard hairs removed…this is a link to that episode and I think it’s well worth a listen as the North Ronaldsay is a wonderful and lively little sheep and fantastic to knit with.

The yarn for the shawl is called The Rt Honourable Ronaldsay, it’s a laceweight and this colourway is called Deadly As…. sadly this has now been discontinued but you should go check out The Countess Ablaze website as her other yarns are all flipping incredible…. (and just in case you were wondering, I bought the yarn and the patterns myself, this isn’t sponsored or anythng, I just love love love these beautiful patterns and this smashing yarn and I wanted to say nice things about them because I think they are all brilliant.)














5 thoughts on “Dark woods and a wild wolf Karise…..

  1. Just gorgeous!!
    Your Bernard looks exactly like my Kiki!
    I can’t attach a photo to show you on here for some reason, but your furbaby is so cute!

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