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A Crocheted Shawl

I can also crochet. Actually I learned to crochet several years before learning to knit – I could already crochet at the age of 7, but only asked my mom to teach me to knit when I was 14. Nowadays I knit most of the time, but sometimes get inspired by crochet. Since I’m not very good at reading crochet patterns, I mostly crochet out of my head.

Crocheted shawl around the neck

This time I crocheted a shawl. I can’t remember what was the initial reason for it – perhaps all my knitting projects felt boring. I started working on a tip of the shawl, increasing on one edge. After a while I figured out a better increase sequence so I unraveled the work and restarted.

A crocheted shawl spread open

The yarn was from a surprise set from ColourMart. It was 100 % cashmere but that’s all that was said. This particular yarn was rather fine weight and singles. Very often single yarns are unbalanced, meaning that stockinette stitch would bias. So one needs to either choose a knitted fabric with an equal number of knits and purls – e.g. garter, ribbing or some lace – or crochet.

Crocheted shawl on the shoulders

There were several colors of the same yarn, enough for a shawl if one used them all. I started with a greyish brown a bit darker than oatmeal. Then I continued with a sand color. The last color was off-white. There was also another colorway, a bright spring green, but in the end it wasn’t a match with the others so I only used the three colors.

Top edge of the crocheted shawl
The top edge of the shawl. The area on the right has one greyish brown strand and one sand color strand of yarn.

Since the yarn was fine weight, I held two strands together. This produced a nice, fine fabric, but not overly fine. Most importantly, it wouldn’t take a decade to finish the shawl! Thanks to the two strands, I could change colors in a more subtle way, first changing color in only one of the strands, and only later in the other. In the photos it looks like there were four colorways, but no, only three, since the narrow strip of color has one strand of the grayish brown and another strand of the sand color.

A toddler pointing at the crocheted shawl
My son pointing out the color change in the shawl

The increase sequence didn’t produce the shape I had initially thought. As a result, I decided to crochet short rows with the last color, to balance the triangle. This time I changed the color in one go instead of making another marled section. There was too big a contrast between the sand and the off-white for the marl to have pleased me.

The center tip of the crocheted shawl
The center tip of the shawl.

I wanted some patterning on the white edge. Since I’m not very experienced in crochet, I ended up making simple semicircles. In my opinion they look actually really good next to the overly plain bulk of the shawl. I also crocheted a fine edge around the entire shawl using the off-white yarn.

The tips of the crocheted shawl
The tips of the shawl. It looks like I forgot to weave in an end.

Unfortunately I’m not about to write patterns for any crocheted items. It’s a world of it’s own, and currently I just don’t have the time for it. Nevertheless, I’m showing you the fine shawl I’ve made!

Crayon Fade

Some years ago I made several consecutive shawl trials. First I had a brilliant idea, that half a shawl later turned out not working technically, so I made some changes to the idea and started over. After several trials and errors there was success: I published Crayon Play pattern in late 2015.

Crayon Play shawl
Crayon Play shawl

The shape of the shawl was so good that I wanted to knit more of them. A couple of years later I finished Crayon Fade, that is almost the same as Crayon Play, but there are some improvements to the stitches. The colors, then again, are used completely differently. While the point of Crayon Play was to use a yarn with high contrast and tune it down with a solid color yarn, Crayon Fade – as you might have guessed from the name alone – fades one color to another.

Crayon Fade shawl
Crayon Fade shawl

I really love the colors of the prototype Crayon Fade. The size and shape work very well, though next time I’ll probably knit either the medium or large size instead of the small size. I’m tall and have broad shoulders, so a bigger shawl will work even better than the one I’ve already made. The idea of the next shawl is some sort of a bullseye. I guess I’ll need to spread out my yarns to pick!

The shawl is started from the center with Judy’s Magic Cast-on. You cast on several hundred stitches, and then work outwards. Increases are made is such spots that you achieve the shape: the ends need increases so that the shawl remains flat, the bottom half of the shawl has increases to make it slightly curved. That makes it stay on the shoulders better. There are only few places to increase on every other round, so this shawl is brilliant for tv-knitting! The outer edge of the shawl has a ruffle partly to prevent the edge from rolling, partly because ruffles look gorgeous.

Crayon Fade pattern is now available in my Ravelry store and via Payhip.

Pihta and Huippu

Pihta and Huippu mittens are worked in stranded knitting with two colors. The cuff is simple ribbing, using one color only, to make it comfortably stretchy.

The colorwork patterns are very simple. The palms are plain pinstripe, as are the tumbs of Pihta. Huippu thumbs have a small upside down “V” in the gusset, the rest is pinstripe. The back of the hand has checkerboard patterning on top of pinstripe. Pihta has upside down “V” motifs, while Huippu shows a silhouette of a line of mountains – especially my blue and light grey model mittens look like mountains.

Both Pihta and Huippu patterns are easy for stranded knitting. The floats are short, there are only few five stitch floats, the rest are mainly one or two stitches long. The colorwork pattern is simple so you don’t need to pay as much attention to the charts as with more complicated patterns. Since there is almost an equal number of stitches for both colors and the floats are short, it should be effortless to keep the tension of the yarn even, which makes knitting rather pleasant. In all, these patterns will probably suit beginner stranded knitters.

The top of the palm is grafted, as well as the top of the Pihta thumbs. Huippu thumbs have decreases making the top more round.

Pihta stranded mittens with a ball of yarn

Pihta is a Finnish word that means fir – the back of the hand patterning reminds me of these evergreen coniferous trees. Huippu then again means peak, as well as something very good.

Pihta and Huippu patterns are now available in my Ravelry store: Pihta, Huippu.

Vaski soi

Last year I bought some beautiful semisolid yarn, made of Polwarth wool and silk. Four of the colorways looked really good together. I wanted to emphasize each color, preferably with smooth transition between colors. In some of my previous work, I had been playing with stripes of different width. In Valentino, Indian Summer and Sumu there is a transition from one color to another. I was after such an effect with this project, too.

After playing with stripes for a moment, I found the sequence I wanted to use. It looked very much like some sort of wave proceeding in the air – or another fluid. I was very happy with the effect.

Sound waves are longitudinal waves. The air pressure changes when the wave advances. Since air is transparent and the pressure doesn’t change its color, you can’t see the sound waves. This shawl is what I imagine the sound waves to look like. Of course the actual wave is not made of separate stretches of pressures, but instead it’s continuous, the pressure fluctuating.

There seemed to be plenty of shawl patterns with the name referring to the sound waves or echo. I wasn’t sure what to call mine, until at some relaxed moment I begun to explore a certain syllable, which letters to put after it, and there it was: vaski. Vaski is a Finnish word meaning a brass instrument. The word alone wasn’t a good name for a shawl, in my opinion, so I explored the words to go with it. It should be short to be easily memorized. Imagine a long word in a foreign language – you’re not going to spell that correctly later on! Since the shawl pattern was inspired by waves, it made sense to me to use the word that refers to playing an instrument. That’s why the pattern became Vaski soi.

When choosing colors for your Vaski soi shawl, there are a couple of things to consider. First, if you wear the shawl wrapped around your neck so that the center is in the front, the color that will show the most is color B. So that’s in a way your main color. At the same time, color C will be some sort of an accent color. I would place the color that best suits your skin tone as color B.

Another thing you might want to consider is that you will have a reasonable amount of leftovers of color C, but not that much of the others. That’s why the color C of the model shawl is white: I wanted to save some of it to be knitted together with another colorway of that same yarn.

Vaski soi pattern is now available in my Ravelry store.

Masala

What to knit with variegated yarns? Especially those that have strong contrast between colors need special attention. Plain stockinette would be great, apart from the risk of uneven pooling of the colors. My answer so far has been stripes. I take one of these gorgeous multicolored yarns and pair it with a neutral, and the result is a wonderful piece of knitwear!

Masala shawl spread out

The story of this particular shawl goes back to the moment I saw a beautiful skein of yarn on the Colorsong Yarn website. It was Mini Maiden by Hand Maiden Fine Yarn, in colorway Masala. I went back to look at it many times. Eventially, I had spent so much time just dreaming about it, that the colorway was on a clearance sale meaning no new ones would ever come, and only one skein remained! Of course I had to take immediate actions and get that precious thing home with me.

Mini Maiden, colorway Masala

The skein lingered in my stash for four years until I knew exactly what I wanted to knit with it. I cast on a shawl, working stripes together with white Adriafil Avantgarde. First, the Masala stripes were wider and white stripes narrower, but gradually it changed, ending up with the opposite: white stripes being wider and Masala stripes narrower.

Masala shawl

By coincidence, the name Masala also means a town in southern Finland. It happens that the first home I can remember was near that town, so I have a personal relationship with it. I didn’t end up going to school there because we moved when I was six – in Finland kids start school at the age of seven – but we didn’t move far so I visited the town many times even after my early years.

Masala shawl

Masala pattern is now available in my Ravelry store here.

Halo

Last summer I got an idea of a shawl that would ressemble a halo. I had recently knitted Auer, a crescent shaped shawl with garter stitch and simple lace, and I wanted to knit another one with expanding stripes of lace.

I had the perfect yarn for the project, bright yellow Handu organic wool, with 600 m per 100 g skein. The original idea was to knit until I’d run out of yarn, so meticulous calculations weren’t needed this time.

Yellow Halo shawl

At the beginning, the project was advancing fast, like top-down crescent shaped and semicircular shawls always. My brother that happened to be visiting us the day I cast on, after watching for a while the project grow and grow, asked – joking – whether I was going to knit the entire shawl in one go. I explained that with top-down shawls it first seems to build up very quickly, but then the rows start getting longer giving an illusion of the process getting slower.

Soon I ran into the first problem. I was pregnant and started feeling physically rather awful during the first weeks, already. I’ve always loved yellow, but for some reason, the nausea was worse when I tried to knit that particular shawl last autumn. So eventually I had to give up and take a break. Some weeks later I wasn’t able to knit at all, anymore, since the movements of knitting made me even more sea sick, so I had to leave all my projects for a long time.

Halo shawl, yellow

Later last year, close to December, I started feeling better and picked up the shawl again. Things didn’t go exactly as planned this time, either: I ran out of yarn in the middle of a lace section and the result didn’t look decent enough to me. I had a couple of viable options, and decided to make changes to the design. I added a different edging, instead of working the same simple lace pattern to the end. After a couple of swatches I knew what I wanted and unraveled several dozen rows and went on with the new edging.

Yellow Halo shawl on the shoulders

The shawl would have been finished well before Christmas, if I hadn’t run out of yarn halfway through the edging! It took some time to figure out what to do. I wasn’t going to unravel the last stripe of shawl body lace since the shawl would then have become too small. Neither was there more of that same yarn available. Well, I went through my yarn stash to find something close enough in weight and color. The yarn closest to the original Handu yarn happened to be from ColourMart, so I needed to skein and wash it before I could actually knit – I didn’t want to risk felting the Handu by washing the finished shawl. I wasn’t physically well enough to do the skeining and washing for several weeks, so the shawl had to wait even more!

Halo shawl

Eventually I got everything done and finished the shawl in late January this year. Since I had ran out of yarn, I didn’t want to recommend that same yarn, or any other yarn with the same weight, in the pattern. There’s obviously nothing wrong with the yarn weight in itself. On the contrary, the shawl is lovely. But even the smallest size I’d be writing would take more than one 100 gram skein of yarn and that wouldn’t be very practical for anyone else wanting to knit the shawl. So I decided to knit another sample with lighter weight yarn.

Halo shawl

I chose ColourMart Diamante in a pale gray colorway that I had just bought. I held the yarn doubled to get a weight close to 700 meters per 100 grams, which is a bit lighter weight than the original Handu yarn. At the same time, I was already having the pattern tested so while I knitted the second prototype, test knitters were working on their own shawls.

Halo shawl on the shoulders

This time nothing held me back, and the shawl was finished in about a month. Diamante is very lovely yarn, smooth and silky, with a soft halo (pun unintended!) of cashmere. It’s currently available in a couple of colorways on the ColourMart website.

The shawl ended up being as beautiful as I had envisioned. I’m very happy with both the yellow and the gray shawl and can’t wait for a suitable occasion to wear one of them!

Halo pattern is now available in my Ravelry store here.

Auer

Auer is a crescent shaped shawl knit top-down, starting from the neck. It is worked in garter stitch and simple lace. The Finnish word auer means haze formed by dry dust particles.

Auer shawl

The yarn used in the model shawl is ColourMart Cashmere 8/44NM 4ply weight. Even though the yarn is pure cashmere, it has a silky feel and a wonderful drape thanks to the way it was made: several dense cobweb weight yarns were plied into a light fingering weight yarn. Unfortunately this also makes at least some of the colorways unbalanced, meaning a stockinette stitch fabric would bias, but there’s no biasing problem with garter stitch and lace. This yarn is definitely one of my favorites ever!

Auer shawl
Auer shawl on the shoulders

Building Blocks Shawl

When I have time, I knit from other designers’ patterns, too. In October 2016 I took part in a mystery knit-a-long by Stephen West. The shawl is called Building Blocks Shawl and unlike The Doodler, the previous mystery shawl by Mr. West, it was rather straightforward. I have to say I was a bit disappointed because there wasn’t much of a mystery after the first two clues since you knew how the shawl would develop, no surprises in which direction you’d be working next.

Building Blocks shawl

This summer I finally finished the project! So far the shawl has mostly been decorating the top of our book shelf since the summer has been warm here, but when the temperature drops, I’ll give it a go.

Despite the lack of surprises in the pattern, I enjoyed knitting my Building Blocks, not least because of the superb ColourMart cashmere and cashmere blends I had chosen for yarn. The black and charcoal are from a scrap set, meaning I don’t know the exact fiber content. Clearly they’re mostly wool, judging by the way the yarn feels and behaves.

Building Blocks shawl wrapped around the neck

The beige yarn consists of two different yarns, of which one contains some angora since it made me cough a bit – not too bad, though, if I just kept the work a bit further from my face while knitting. The beige yarns are also from a ColourMart scrap set.

Building Blocks shawl on shoulders

The blue is pure cashmere. Or it would have been, had I not thought I’d run out of yarn. In the solid blue section I used two strands of the cashmere and one strand of light weight pure merino. They happened to be approximately the same shade so if you didn’t know, you couldn’t tell there are two completely different yarns in that section. Also these yarns came from scrap sets, but those weren’t random yarn but were classified by fiber content. The blue merino set even had a photo, so I knew what was coming unlike the other ones that I had bought blind – the surprise sets cost less, which combined with the surprise factor makes them very tempting.

Building Blocks shawl: closeup

As the other colors, also the orange is made of two separate yarns. One of them came from the same ColourMart scrap set as the black, charcoal and two beiges, and I suppose it contains some silk, given the sheen. The other orange, then again, is the only one I’ve bought on cone. It’s 52 % cashmere and 48 % linen – an absolutely fantastic yarn! I don’t know, yet, how it’ll endure wear, nevertheless I bought three cones of it back in 2014. The only negative side I have discovered yet about this yarn is that it bleeds color. So if I ever want to knit it together with anything light colored, I’ll have to skein and wash it first.

Taina’s Arrow

I had two skeins of Handu singles, pink with a little bit of blue speckles. I wanted to knit a shawl with them and to try the arrow shape since it’s a rather interesting way of making a triangle. I thought I’d go with something simple since the yarn was variegated and would hide a more complex patterning.

Pink hand dyed yarn from Handu

A previous shawl of mine, Taina, had been very addictive to knit so I used the same sequence of eyelets and garter stitch. The resulting shawl is called Taina’s Arrow.

Taina's Arrow on the shoulders

The model shawl is 65 cm deep and 210 cm wide after blocking. It’s a very good size for a tall woman like me (I’m 180 cm/5’11¨), and it won’t be overly large for medium or smaller women, either.

Taina's Arrow
Taina's Arrow flying

Miriam

Miriam is the warm-up pattern of Tour-de-Sock 2018. It is worked from the cuff down in stranded knitting. In my humble opinion it is a rather good pattern for brushing up your skills in stranded knitting thanks to the short color runs and very simple pattern repeat. You can concentrate on your hands instead of charts.

Miriam socks, front

I had had the idea for the pattern as early as in December 2015 when working on a design for another sock competition. That other design ended up not meeting my requirements, so it never saw daylight, but Miriam stayed in the back of my head, waiting for the right moment.

Miriam socks, side and back

In the summer of 2017 I finally got to working on Miriam. Yet again there were obstacles, this time pain in some of my fingers, so I had to leave the sock in the middle of the heel. Last winter I saw the call for designs in the Tour-de-Sock Ravelry group and thought that this would be my opportunity to finish up the design. I picked up the work and continued, running into much greater technical challenges than I had expected, but finally I had a finished sock that met my standards. I even managed to submit a day before the deadline!

Miriam socks, sole

Miriam is currently available via the Tour-de-Sock website for the registered racers. Registration is open for everyone and ends on July 5. Please don’t mind the ‘June 25’ on the registration sheet (follow the link on this page), the correct date is stated on the main page of the Tour-de-Sock site. The registration fee is $10 and it (minus the Paypal and shipping expenses for prizes) goes to to Doctors Without Borders. Being a racer doesn’t bind you in any way: you will get the patterns – 1 warm-up, 6 stages, possibly yet something more = at least 7 patterns – but you aren’t obliged to knit at all. So in my opinion, it’s definitely worth the cost!

Miriam socks, side

This is the first Miriam sock, photo taken for the Tour de Sock pattern submission in late February:

Miriam sock, white cuff