Tag Archives: shawl

A long time coming


It only took 2.5 years, but Halligarth is finished!


Pattern: Halligarth, by Gudrun Johnston • Yarn: GBF Hennessy Lace in “Bala Cranberry”

I have loved this shawl since it was published, ordered yarn for it almost immediately, and cast on for it in June 2014. I can’t remember how far I got, but at some point that summer I put it down without any notes, in the middle of a repeat. When I picked it up again in the winter of 2015 (I think), it took me a while to get back in to the groove with the pattern and, after working a couple of repeats, I put it down again.

In the years that this has languished unfinished in my WIP basket, I wished many times that my past self had been more disciplined about buckling down and finishing it. Without being too glitzy, Halligarth is an excellent fancy-occasion shawl, and we have been to weddings and parties where having it as a wrap would have been ideal. But, apparently, not so ideal that I was actually inspired to pull it out again.

Until now. The week after Christmas — the day, in fact, that I cast on for Oda — I decided to see where I was with Halligarth. It turned out I was in a pretty good place. The last time I knit on it, I did myself the service of finishing the repeat, so starting back in was pretty straightforward, and then it turned out that the lace pattern was much, much more intuitive than I had remembered (my skills have improved a lot since I started it, I suppose).


After blocking, it measures about 75 inches across and 35 down the centre spine. 

Halligarth is written for two sizes, and when I hit the point where I would start the edging for the smaller size, I weighed my yarn to see how things were looking. Back in 2014, I decided to knit this in laceweight, and bought a gorgeous skein of BLF laceweight from the then-newly opened Georgian Bay Fibre Co. They no longer sell laceweight, though, so I knew I had no way to get more yarn if I ran out. Still, when I hit the small-size stitch count, I had 51 g left. I wanted a big shawl, and it seemed like I’d have enough to knit the big size, so I added a lifeline and kept going.

I won’t lie, I came close to putting it down again. The last few repeats are looooong. And, in laceweight, it takes a while to really see progress. For a while, I really thought I might never finish (or that my yardage would fall short), but I made it with 7 g to spare.

And you know what, it was totally worth it. I love this shawl. It is incredibly light (less than 100 g), nice and big, and elegant without being too fancy to wear with jeans if I want to. And that colour… The yarn in general is an absolute delight and if it were still available, I would definitely buy more. As it is, I am considering order a sweater’s worth of one of the heavier bases before the shop goes wholesale-only. BFL is such a lovely fibre to work with and wear, and it’s hard to come by.


Anyway. I think it’s hilarious that the first thing I finished this year was started in 2014, but I also think it bodes well. If this is a year about action, what better way to kick it off than by finally finishing the shawl I’ve been wishing was in my closet for years?

Halligarth progress


One of the funny things about blogging is that when everything is going well there isn’t much to say! I don’t really have much to say about Halligarth besides that it’s an entirely enjoyable and engaging knit. I’m about halfway through the tree section and, unstretched, it’s measuring about 24 inches (or, the length of the needle I’m working on), which suggest that with the edging and a good blocking it will be a nice big shawl.


I always worry about the finished size as I knit because I really prefer large shawls. I bike pretty much everywhere when the weather is good, and if a shawl is too small it won’t stay on (my bike requires me to lean down). My Shaelyn is the perfect size and I have been wearing it a lot, so I’d love for this one to be similarly large. It might not end up quite that big, but I think the lighter weight will help it stay put. That’s actually one of the reasons I chose to knit it in laceweight instead of fingering weight, and I really love the way it’s turning out. This yarn is so lovely to work with, and the colour is exactly what I wanted.


Basically, it’s a boring knit in the best way possible: It’s exactly what I want, and (so far anyway) it’s knitting up just fine!




There is no doubt that this is shaping up to be an excellent summer. Just a few days after our camping trip I was headed back up to the shores of Lake Huron (though not so far north as Georgian Bay) for a cottage weekend. An old friend of mine is getting married and in lieu of a bar hopping bachelorette we spent a weekend away (and on the beach). The weather was perfect, and the water is warm enough for swimming, and it was gorgeous.



I knit in the car on the way there, which ended up being hilarious in the stop-and-go traffic since a guy in the lane next to us was fascinated by what I was doing. He stared and, when his lane got moving, actually slowed down so we could catch up! He seemed completely entertained by the idea of someone knitting (or, at least the idea of someone his own age knitting). His amusement entertained us as well, which made for a pretty funny drive. I snuck in a little beach knitting too, and my Summer Skyp socks are coming along nicely. I’m staying home this weekend, but I’m looking forward to turning my attention to Halligarth, which is proving to be a very enjoyable knit, especially when accompanied by a podcast or audiobook.



On my needles


I’ve been on a bit of a sock jag and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon. As I was finishing my Daphnes I started to flip through my stash (first in my head and then actually in the bin) to decide what to cast on next. Part of my plan for this year’s knitting was to knit more plain, everyday socks, so with that in mind I pulled out this self-striping yarn that I picked up well over a year ago.


This is Turtlepurl Yarns Striped Turtle Toes in Gatineau Fall, a hand-dyed self-striping yarn that comes pre-split into two matching skeins. The idea is that the skeins are dyed together, so assuming you start both at the same end, you should end up with perfectly matching socks. In this case, some of the stripes are variegated, so the socks won’t be a perfect match, but the stripes should line up otherwise.


I thought the variegation would annoy me, since perfectly-matched striped socks are kind of fun, but I’m actually really enjoying the way the colours are playing out. I’m actually deeply impressed by the idea of dyeing a variegated-yet-striping colourway, and the colours are so perfectly fall that these socks just look like a hike through the woods on a fall day.


All the plain stockinette combined with just-one-more-stripe syndrome is making these a quick knit and I’m hoping to finish them up by the end of the month. Summer is the perfect time to knit socks, and it’s maybe the one time of year plain stockinette socks become my primary knit, instead of something a pick up here and there.

Of course, I do have a background knit, and just for some balance, it’s a laceweight lace shawl. I cast on for Halligarth. After knitting Flukra I knew I’d be knitting more of Gudrun Johnson’s patterns, and when I saw the latest BT Wool People, it was pretty easy to choose which of her patterns would be next. I love the way each section of the tree-patterned lace nests into the ones before and after it, and shawls see a lot of wear around here.

Un-stretched, each diamond measures about 3 inches across.

Un-stretched, each diamond measures about 3 inches across.

The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn, but I decided to spice things up a bit and go with laceweight. This a BFL laceweight hand-dyed north of Toronto by Georgian Bay Fibre Co., who I found through a Ravelry ad (seriously, the first time I’ve ever clicked one of those). I love BFL yarn, but before I went crazy and bought one of everything I decided to commit to one project. There seems to be an inconsistency between how much yarn people need for this shawl and the yardage listed on the pattern page, so I’m playing it safe with a big skein. I’m planning to knit the smaller size and then weigh the skein and see how I’m doing. If I can eke out the larger shawl I definitely will.

Hello, Shaelyn


A while ago, I did a post about all of my works-in-progress. In truth, nothing much has changed with most of them, but the act of getting them all out so I could take fresh photos sparked a renewed desire to see them finished. I have since picked Grace back up and, to my deep satisfaction, finished the longest-standing WIP in the pile, Shaelyn.

I'm not sure what L was doing with the camera here, but I was definitely standing upright.

I’m not sure what L was doing with the camera here, but I was definitely standing upright.

I cast this on over a year ago, and it is a prime example of a project being the victim of its circumstances. Mainly, that the yarn I used (Handmaiden Casbah in Lupins) was awful to wind. Both skeins had switchbacks that required cutting the yarn and untangling it on the swift. I think I ended up winding the skeins by hand (each one in two halves) before re-winding them into cakes. I probably shouldn’t have cast on right away, because I was ticked off, which made it really easy for me to put down this shawl at the first moment it became less than intuitive (by which I mean, my stitch count was off and I couldn’t be bothered to figure out why). We’ve all had these projects, right?

Anyway, after I finished Flukra and found myself wearing it pretty much every day, I decided I wanted another big shawl immediately. I could have cast on for something new, but Shaelyn was three repeats in, so figuring out where I went wrong seemed faster — and since Leila Raabe offers a little guide to figuring out where you are in the pattern, it only required me to rip out a couple of rows to get back on track.


I knit on Shaelyn steadily before putting it down to start New Girl, and then last weekend I decided to finish it. I was nearly finished the seventh repeat when I put it down (I wanted a big shawl, after all) and the remainder of the repeat, plus the edging and the bind-off took most of Saturday (the rows were all 300+ stitches), but it blocked out beautifully and dried over night, in time to take pictures of it with New Girl. I really wish I’d measured it before blocking (we had friends over, so after finishing the cast-off over drinks, I just put it in to soak), but I’d guess it blocked out 12 inches are so larger in both wingspan and depth.

It’s huge, but the loose and drapey fabric make it light and easy to wear, and it needs no adjusting to stay put around my neck. I love it, and I am so glad that I both waited so long to finish it (I was annoyed with it originally, so might not have pushed ahead with the extra repeats) and that I picked it back when I did — it’s perfect for spring!

Finished measurements: 66 inches across x 36 inches deep. Enormous.

Finished measurements: 66 inches across x 36 inches deep. Enormous.

Pattern: Shaelyn by Leila Raabe
Yarn: Handmaiden Casbah Sock in Lupins
Needles: 5mm
Notes: I had two skeins of the yarn, so I added two extra repeats of the chart before the edging. With one skein I would have been fine to have knit this as written (the extra two repeats + edging took about half the second skein). I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, which gives a nice edge especially for blocking out the slightly-scalloped edge. Ravelled here.

Flukra flukra


I was all prepared to say it was funny to blog about a shawl named after snow (in Shetland, “flukra” means “snow falling in large flakes,” according to Gudrun Johnston) when the weather has finally turned to spring here. The last few days have been amazing: sunny and warm enough to ditch my parka in favour of my wool pea coat (that is, finally peaking about 0C/32F). But then this morning I looked out the window and it’s snowing again. The weather channel says it’s -2C, going down to -15C over night. So yeah, winter is still here. But, I have a cozy and lovely shawl named for the season, so I really can’t complain. (Plus, it’s Canada, so who were we kidding? There’s always snow in March.)


Flukra is amazing. I’ve worn it nearly everyday since I finished it and I am not even close to tired of it yet. There are a lot of reasons I love this shawl, but certainly one of them is the size. It blocked out to 63 inches wide and 23 inches deep, which may be just about the perfect size. I tend to wear shawls kerchief-style, and I like it when I can drape a shawl around my neck and know it isn’t going to need constant adjusting to both stay on and look nice. Flukra is perfect n both counts, though I don’t yet have any photos of my wearing it, so you’ll have to just take my word for it.

Everyone who knits one of Gudrun’s patterns always raves about it and I can absolutely see why. Her instructions are clear but not overwrought. I find some patterns include so much detail you get lost in it, but these directions were to the point, with a couple of helpful hints and photos included with the charts. I will absolutely have another of her shawls on my needles soon (maybe this one? knit in this?) . Flukra used the new-to-me, but traditional Shetland construction for the body, which is worked bottom to top, beginning with a single stitch. This means the garter stitch ribs of the middle portion are horizontal, which leads to a beautiful (and so, so soft) cowling affect when you wear the shawl (you know how you have to sort of fold down the top part of a triangular shawl to wear it around your neck? This way it sort of folds in on itself. This drapey quality makes the shawl excellent to wear, but tricky to photograph.)


The yarn I used is also new to me and it is heavenly. I find I’m often drawn to one yarn or another because of the colours, rather than the fibre content, but this yarn (Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Luxe) is probably the first really luxurious yarn I’ve ever knit with, and it’s making me want more. The cashmere bloomed every so slightly when I blocked the shawl, and the silk gives the colours a very subtle shine, which combined with the structure of the merino is a pretty delicious combination. When I was originally thinking about knitting Flukra, this wasn’t the kind of colour I had in mind, but now I’m so glad I went this route. This colourway somehow manages to go with everything.

Pattern: Flukra by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Luxe in Mystery
Needles: 4.5mm
Notes: Like many others, I chose to knit a garter border instead of the lace edging, which worked well with the heavier yarn (the pattern is written for laceweight). I continued the increases in the edging, but used kfb instead of yarn-overs. And that’s pretty much it. I increased the body to the specified size and did everything else as written. Ravelled here.

L thinks it's very funny to "dress" Ganymede in shawls/scarves and see what she does. I was laughing so hard at the put-upon expression she was making I couldn't hold the camera steady, but doesn't she look cozy?

L thinks it’s very funny to “dress” Ganymede in shawls/scarves and see what she does. I was laughing so hard at the put-upon expression she was making I couldn’t hold the camera steady, but doesn’t she look cozy?

Ps. Cassy and I are starting our New Girl KAL on Friday! Want to join us?

I did not forget about these projects

My background knitting. Slow but steady, these are part of my grand plan for increasing my pairs of plain socks.

My background knitting. Slow but steady, these are part of my grand plan for increasing my pairs of plain socks.

All evidence to the contrary, I know, but it’s true: Just because I’m not actively working on a project doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. And, more often than not, I’m debating when/if I should pull it out of my basket and get back to work. I finished my Flukra on Tuesday (proper photos to come) and since I plan to cast on New Girl in the near future, I thought maybe instead of starting something new I’d pick up something that had been languishing. I’m not quite sure what that will be, other than the socks at the top of this post, which have been background knitting for two months now and thus, despite their slow progress, always in active rotation.

It occurred to me that some of these projects had never made it onto the blog, or that even if they had, possibly not for a year or more, so here we go, a tour through my works-in-progress (presented approximately in chronological order by cast-on, according to my Ravelry notes).

Shaelyn, cast on March 3, 2013.

Shaelyn, cast on March 3, 2013.

Shaelyn has definitely been on the needles forever. I cast this on when L and I went to Eleuthra last year, and then spent the week knitting socks instead. I did work on this on the flight home, but we fit turbulence and my ruler (marking the row I was on in the chart) was jostled. I lost my place, couldn’t figure out where I was, and put the project away without trying very hard to sort things out. I may also have been frustrated by how awful this yarn was to wind (both skeins doubled back on themselves in the middle, meaning they required cutting, untangling, and rewinding). Anyway, now that I have snuggly Flukra to wear I’m dying for another equally scrumptious shawl, and this may be it.

Hunter St. Cowl, cast on April 6, 2013 (appearance not improved for having been shoved in a small bag. Ahem.)

Hunter St. Cowl, cast on April 6, 2013 (appearance not improved for having been shoved in a small bag. Ahem.)

There is no excuse for my languishing Hunter St. Cowl except that I cast it on during the same period as most of these WIPs, so it may have been the victim of my restless spirit and a spate of startitis. I love this pattern, I love this yarn (Tanis Fiber Arts Pink Label lace weight in Lucky Penny), and even though I’m not really a cowl person, I sense this is one I would wear. Progress was slow at the beginning, and I guess I was in the mood for some quick gratification, so I cast this aside. I would like to wear it this spring though.

Grace, cast on June 1, 2013.

Grace, cast on June 1, 2013.

Not finishing Grace is my No. 1 knitting regret of last year. I cast it on a little too close to summer, I think, and put it down in favour of Kit, and then never quite got around to finishing it. I always forget that fall is pretty much all holiday knitting, which means that great lightweight cardigans that I’d wear all winter basically need to be knit before the end of September. I might not pick this up before New Girl, but I think it’ll be the first thing I knit afterwards – I hope I left myself a good note about where I was in the pattern.

Daphne, cast on July 18.

Daphne, cast on July 18, 2013

The minute it gets warm, I’m knocking out this second Daphne sock. This is less second-sock syndrome than putting down a for-me knit to pick up a gift-knit, and then not quite getting back to it. That being said, the first sock flew off my needles (having knit the pattern before made it easy to return to), so I know these will be quick to turnaround when the weather improves (wool/silk/bamboo blend yarn in openwork just isn’t robust enough for winter).

Stasis, cast on Feb. 2, 2014

Stasis, cast on Feb. 2, 2014

Stasis is a pretty recent WIP. I cast on the week before the Olympics, but it’s true what they say about knitting white/grey yarn in February. I got through the colourwork without incident, but the minute I got into the fields of stockinette I just couldn’t handle it. This is a shade I love to wear in the winter, but one I apparently can’t knit with. I’ll pick this back up in May (before it’s too hot to have a sweater in my lap) and finish it so it’s ready for me in the fall.

And I think that’s it! What do you think? Are you shocked I have any needles left for new projects or are you laughing that I think this is a lot of WIPs?

Colour therapy


I finished my rainbow socks on Tuesday and they are awesome! Which is to say, the colours are awesome (thank you Three Irish Girls!) and they make these otherwise plain socks sing.


I’m not sure good lighting even exists at this time of year, so I’ll refrain from posting any shadowy pictures of my feet. These were just plain 64-stitch socks, with my usual heel and toe. I was pretty sure I’d need contrast toes to stretch the yarn, but when I got to the toe of my first sock, the skein still weighed almost 60g, so I just chugged right along with same colours all the way through. I actually have a bit leftover, which is a nice surprise. It’s not really enough to do anything with on its own, but it would be perfect for adding a bright stripe to another pair of socks, or (heaven forbid) darning these ones in the future.

For scale, it's already 14 inches deep, with another six or seven garter ridges to go, plus the border. This is going to be a big shawl.

For scale, it’s already 14 inches deep, with another six or seven garter ridges to go, plus the border. This is going to be a big shawl.

Socks finished, I turned to my neglected shawl (so neglected I haven’t even mentioned it here). I originally bought this yarn for Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow KAL, but partway through Clue 1 I lost my nerve. I like the idea of an MKAL, but I realized that, in practice, I prefer to know how all the pieces will fit together before I start knitting them. So I followed my arrow to another pattern. I’m knitting Flukra by Gudrun Johnson. I’ve been coveting this shawl for quite some time now (even more so when I saw these examples of the shawl knit with garter stitch edging). I was originally going to knit it up in this, but it’s winter, and there’s enough white/grey around.


I’m knitting it in Sweet Fiber Cashmerino Luxe and wow. This is a blend of merino/cashmere/silk and it is so, so soft. It’s like the downy fur on a kitten’s tummy. I can’t wait to wrap myself up in it. The colourway is Mystery (which would have been perfect for Ysolda’s KAL) and the colour of slate: mostly blue/grey, but with hints of rust running throughout. It’s not a bright colour, but it is a warm one, and I’m really enjoying the way it’s presenting in garter stitch. I’m almost done the body and I am pretty excited to get to the lace, which is all-action all the time, with no rest rows, which makes me think it’ll speed right along.

As if that wasn’t enough, I got home after a long day of work to find a very fun package on my doorstep. A few weeks ago Tanis Fiber Arts did an Etsy update, but instead of it being the usual grab-and-go madness they decided to dye to order, offering six colourways in three different bases. I don’t normally enter the fray of the Etsy update, but this was a really nice way to do it – not nearly as overwhelming or frustrating.

Clockwise from the top: Fjord, Rock, and Aurora

Clockwise from the top: Fjord, Rock, and Aurora

Anyway, I thought long and hard and picked up three skeins: Two skeins of the Purple Label Cashmere Sock, one in Rock and one in Aurora, and a Green Label Aran Weight in Fjord. I didn’t have any particular plans when I bought them, but when I saw them in person the wheels started turning. Rock, especially grabbed me. It looked much more grey-green in the photos Tanis posted, so I was surprised and delighted to see that, in person, it was the most delicate and subtle green, with just a hint of grey and gold in the background. I’m not locked in yet, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to become a Bakau shawl, which is another pattern I’ve been crushing on for a while.

AND, as if that wasn’t enough, let’s talk about knitted skirts. Remember the other day when I said I got the New Girl pattern for finishing my mittens? Well, Cassy commented that she thought was should do an informal KAL, since she loved the skirt too. We got to talking, and it’s official: in mid-March we’re going to cast on for New Girl. The pattern is half price at the moment, so if you’d like to join us, this is a good time to buy. There’s no pressure (and no prizes), but it’s nice to knit the same pattern at the same time as others: it’s good for encouragement, helpful if you run into problems, and an excellent way to narrow down your colour choices.

The benefits of one-on-one attention


I think it’s safe to say we all know one-on-one time is important in relationships, but as a not-very-monogamous knitter I sometimes forget that the same can apply to my knitting.

I’m hoping to finish both the holiday projects currently on my needles by the end of the month, which is also the end of the week. I can never be sure how much knitting time I’ll get during the week, but I figure if I get one thing done now, I can buckle down on the other over the weekend.

I am still so in love with this colourway.

I am still so in love with this colourway.

I just started the toe decreases for the second of L’s socks, so I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be finished by the end of the week (possibly the end of the day, but I don’t want to jinx myself).

I never thought I'd be so enchanted by ruffles.

I never thought I’d be so enchanted by ruffles.

The shawl is another matter. My plan is to double the number of edging repeats in the body. I want this to be easy to wear, which means it needs to be long enough to comfortable drape over both shoulders without needing a lot of readjusting. My Oaklet ended up being 49 inches long, and I think that’s the shortest I’d want to go. This does have a slightly curved shape, which tends to fit a bit better than a straight-across triangle, but still. I’ll probably gain a couple of inches in blocking, but I don’t want to count on that to make the minimum. So, repeat, repeat, repeat until I hit the 20g mark, which is when I’ll have to start decreasing. Each row is about the same as a round on a sock, so unless the weekend becomes insanely busy, I think I’ll be okay.

That’s the game plan, anyway. Do work out little schedules and deadlines for yourself? Do you ever manage to stick to this timelines?

A quick update


I e-mailed my parents this morning to ask them (nicely) to stay clear of this space between now and the holidays. Assuming they don’t want to ruin Christmas, they will do just that, which means I’ll be able to post about their gifts without worrying.

Anyway, I can’t be quite so sure about my sisters, who may cave to the temptation of knowing only to then be filled with regret (we have never really been holiday snoopers, since the surprise is so much fun, but if things are left out in the open…). To that end, if you’d like to see the finished Saltburn socks, they are here. I’ll do proper posts for all these gift knits after the holidays, but in the meantime, I’m keeping finished shots on Ravelry where they are safe.

I finished Saltburn on Sunday and, since there’s a deadline looming, cast on immediately for the next project in my queue (the one in my head, not the one on Ravelry). I wanted a break from socks (I’m still knitting Charade, but it’s nice to have different things on the needles) so I cast on for a shawl. My mum, after seeing my Oaklet shawl, requested a little shawl like that for Christmas. She made this request in February, so it’s entirely possible she’s forgotten all about it since then, but I didn’t.

Casbah in Ruby Red (best guess, since she doesn't label her skeins)

Casbah in Ruby Red (best guess, since she doesn’t label her skeins)

I debated a lot about colour. My mum wears a lot of colour, so I thought maybe a neutral would be the most versatile, but after talking to my dad about it I went back to my original plan and colour it is. I picked up this gorgeous skein of Handmaiden Casbah when I was in Nova Scotia in the summer and it has been waiting for the right project to hit me ever since.

Knitting a shawl for someone else can be tricky. For my mum, I wanted something pretty, but not fussy, and something deep enough that it would cover that little exposed V of skin that v-neck sweater and button-down shirts leave, but not be so deep as to cover her entire shirt. Basically, I wanted it to be easy to wear and something she could dress up or down, and also something I’d enjoy knitting.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on one pattern. My first thought was the Travelling Woman shawl, which has easy to wear lace, but I thought it might not have long enough wings to wear easily. I then settled on Bakau (I love the edging so, so much) but the more I thought about it, the more I thought that maybe it’s more me than my mum (watch for this turning up on my needles in the near future). I also only have one skein of this yarn, and I’m not sure that’s quite enough yardage.

I am so taken with the squishiness of the garter stitch.

I am so taken with the squishiness of the garter stitch.

Then, I started seeing the Charm shawl by Juju Vail popping up all over the place. I’ll admit that I wasn’t convinced at first, but it grew on me and once I cast on I was smitten. It’s knit side to side, has a clever construction, and it’s pretty. I’m knitting the small version, but I might make it a bit deeper than the pattern suggests and just note the weight of yarn I need to hold back for decreasing, which means I’ll also be able to use the whole skein.

What do you think? Am I totally over-thinking this or do you get like this when planning gift knitting?