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This was such a fun and challenging pattern to design. I’m really glad that I set myself the task of doing something on vacation and doing it publicly. It was compelling to know that so many people were following along on Instagram.
The challenge was to use 2 skeins of Wollmeise yarn and to be inspired by the scenes around me. Wollmeise comes in a large put up – 150g – so that gave me a lot of scope to create without feeling cramped. It’s an interesting yarn and feels a wee bit like cotton to my hands. I’d love to have a sweater or cardi made of it.
The challenge to tie the knitting to my surroundings was tricky since I wanted to knit the shawl while on the vacation and that meant I had only 4 weeks to knit the shawl. It meant that I didn’t have much time for letting things percolate around in my mind. Truthfully, I felt pressure to start. It was a self-imposed pressure, but since I live in my own mind that’s the worst kind of pressure, right?
I love cobblestones. I have already designed a cowl based on my love of cobblestones. I felt a little reservation about using that as an inspiration point again. But truthfully I really do love them and as I clicked around the online stitch dictionaries I found a stitch that reminded me so strongly of a patch of cobblestones we had just walked on in the section of Wittlich down near the swimming pool.
I wanted to be kind to myself since this design project was already hemmed by unusual circumstances so when I started my search for the stitch pattern for the first red section, I headed to the part of KnittingFool that lets you select for stitch count. I chose the same count as the seed stitch chevron. After all, I reasoned, there were only 25 options but I might just find a perfect pattern that would also mean easy math.
I did. The Fancy Zigzag pattern leapt right out at me. I wanted to know how the mock cables achieved such an unusually round look, almost like beads, and I love chevrons. Here was a pattern with cabling, lace, and chevrons all wrapped up in a package that reminded me uncannily of the red church tower we had just encountered.
While we were in Maastricht, my daughter and I came across two churches side-by-side (as so often happens) and one of them was built of the most startling and magnificent red rock. To make me even happier, it was built in the Gothic style – all tall lines, pointed arches, and punctuation-like flourishes. (Am I the only one who thinks of commas and semi-colons when looking at the knobby bits of Gothic architecture?)
So there I was, with textured cobblestones brought to life in the grey section and gloriously dramatic flourishes in the red section. What to do next? I went back to the same stitch for the grey while I thought. Knitting and thinking really do go together.
The more I looked at the red section, the more I wanted to tease it apart and explore the components. As I wrote on Instagram, “You know how on a vacation you can develop a theme? Similar experiences that are different but bring echoes of other moments into the present? As you gain a sense of the history and ecology of a place, your encounters seem to build on each other and branch out at the same time. I have decided to play with that feeling of strangeness merging into familiarity with the remaining sections of the shawl. I’m deconstructing the pattern from the first red section, pulling out the pieces to stand on their own.”
So the as the next two sections started to eat up yarn at astonishing rates* I worked on finding balance in the visual weight of the sections and exploring the Fancy Zigzag stitch. The red mock cable section was easy to work and fun to do. But that last grey section? Oh, that gave me troubles.
At first I tried just doing the chevron lace section, but I was clearly going to use too much yarn for it. (Well, I wasn’t. I would have been ok, but I would be designing to within inches of the yarn and that’s just not fair to people who might knit the pattern with slightly different usage and be left without yarn at a very awkward spot.) I even ended up ripping back a second idea after 6 hours of knitting on the plane home. That was so hard! To feel like I was literally on the home stretch and then to admit I was going to be starting again? Ugh.
So the final grey section of the shawl was a bit of hard work. In the end I went with a simple mirrored mesh. It echoes the chevron lace in a very elemental fashion and, most importantly, it gives people a lot of flexibility in regards to yarn usage. It is a 4 row repeat and you can easily keep going if you want to have a larger shawl or use all of your yarn.
*Why was I astonished? I knew it would happen. That’s the truth about shawls as they get bigger. But I wanted even more shawl to play with!
- knit and purl
- M1L, M1R, yo
- ssk, k2tog, sk2p
- knitting from charts
Approximate Yardage: (with a 15% buffer)
- Colour A – 510 yds. / 466m fingering weight
- Colour B – 414 yds. / 379m fingering weight
One Size: 53” / 134cm wide, and 27.5” / 70cm deep at centre spine