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Monday, July 30, 2012

Feather and Fan Silk Scarf

This is the longest break between posts since I started this blog. The gap is caused by a combination of factors - the building work beginning on our extension, my giving priority to my family history blog and publishing the a book from that blog on my grandfather's family, and the fact that I have been working on  upcoming birthday projects that can't be blogged about until after the birthdays.

Yesterday, however, I blocked and finished a scarf I have been working on.

The yarn for this was a gift from a friend who came across it on a visit to Sydney. It is a hand-dyed silk yarn produced by Ann Collins, a Sydney textile designer. It comes in 100gm balls - so quite a lot in a ball. There were two patterns with the yarn, both for scarves, one with a wave pattern, one feather and fan.  One ball will make three scarves.

I decided to make the feather and fan scarf for the friend who generously bought me the yarn - an unexpected and no-occasion present. There is plenty left to make something for myself.

It knitted up very easily - so light and soft to work with. I've knitted quite a few lace scarves and I still find it hard to believe the blocking makes a such a difference. I kept thinking the lace wasn't emerging.

I put off the blocking for a week or so. Our kitchen is packed into my sewing room and it isn't easy to find a space to block even a scarf, but yesterday I managed it on a rug on the floor of my study.

Miraculously, the lace appeared. This morning when I took out the T pins there was a really lacy scarf . The feather and fan pattern is evident and it will look great on my friend.

Now to pack and post it to her.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Navia shawl

I have been working on a Navia kit for a shawl in the style of the Faroe Islands. Mine is in black. I wanted to try both the yarn and the pattern.

The yarn is a mix of Faroese wool, Shetland wool and Australian lambs' wool. I was intrigued by the history of the Navia company, which began in 2004 as a school project business plan on the Faroese Islands. Óli Kristian á Torkilsheyggi was so committed to the project he carried it through to a successful business.

I liked the story, had been interested in both Faroese and Shetland wool, and the style of Faroese shawls, which are knitted in the round with a gusset down the centre back, and shaped over the shoulders. The kit was very reasonably priced from The Fox Collection so I gave it a go. I chose black because I wanted to wear this myself, at home as much as when going out and thought that more serviceable.
The wool is lovely to work - soft,  firm, no splitting. The instructions were minimalist, but the chart clear. I soon got the idea and the rhythm. I enlarged, photocopied and folded the chart, marking  the panel of pattern repeats with highlighter to help my memory. The dark bits on the chart show the stitches that no longer exist.

I used ring markers to mark off the repeats and coloured rings to mark the central panel. I would not have managed without these, even though the pattern is relatively simple.

I am not usually a fan of garter stitch, but it certainly made for simplicity. Once the lace pattern was completed  the ring markers for the repeats could be removed and the pattern of decreases takes over the rhythm of knitting.

When the knitting was finished, I had the challenge of crocheting around the front edge. I got out one of my mother's books of crochet instructions and tried to teach myself a treble. I don't really think I succeeded, but I made a passable edge anyway. The instructions were for a panel of trebles and didn't transfer very easily to an edge. I suspect what I ended up doing was a double, not a treble, but it gave a finish to the edge.

The last bit was the knotted fringe. I had no idea how much wool it would take, but I made it with quite a bit to spare.

Best of all - it is astonishingly light and warm. I have been wearing it when it is not quite time to turn the heating on but a bit cool to sit still. It's a great shape; doesn't keep falling off as straight shawls tend to do.

I would certainly use the wool again, given the opportunity, and I will now try some of the more complicated patterns I have for Faroe Island shawls.