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!
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.
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.
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 pattern is now available in my Ravelry store here.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!
This is the first Miriam sock, photo taken for the Tour de Sock pattern submission in late February:
I had a skein of some very beautiful green yarn, SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock in colorway Basil. I wanted to make something squishy out of it, preferably using it up. I started a two-color brioche shawl from the tip, working an i-cord edge at the same time as the rest of the shawl.
Itu is part of the same series with Humus, Honka and Moreeni, and got the same branches on one edge. I ended up unraveling and re-knitting the branching edge several times until I was happy with the branches, or roots, as I see them.
The shawl turned out even squishier than Humus and Honka, most likely thanks to the SweetGeorgia yarn that was squishy in itself. It was some rather plump yarn compared to many other fingering weight yarns. If I remember correctly, another colorway of that yarn wasn’t quite as plump, so my skein may have been an exception. Nevertheless, I wrote the pattern so that you wouldn’t run out of yarn even if your skein was the same as my Basil. On the other hand, you can continue longer if there’s enough yarn.
The pale yarn in the model shawl is Lorna’s Laces Solemate. The colorway is Princess Donna and it’s a combination of pink, mint green, pale blue and the base color off-white. This yarn was rather skinny compared to most other fingering weights. The 30 % of viscose makes it dense. Actually, I first tried to knit socks with this yarn, but the fabric stretched so much when I kept trying the unfinished sock on (not even actual wear, but trying it on several times!) that I soon abandoned the idea of socks.
I’ve just released my first ever hat pattern, Moreeni. It’s worked in two-color brioche and it has the same branching motifs as Humus and Honka shawls. The hat is designed for adults even though my 6-year-old son posed for the photos. The smallest size will probably fit most kids of his age.
The first hat became a bit too tight for me so I knitted another one, this time making sure it wasn’t too small. This second hat was knitted with BC Garn Lucca that has sadly been discontinued several years ago. The hat is heavenly soft!