Tag Archives: shawl

black death - a knitted shawl

Black Death

Naming a knitted shawl after a devastating plague? These are the depths to which inspiration takes us. You should read the designer’s story, but not until you’ve finished reading this post. 😉

When I moved to Brighton, I was very excited to find that there was a yarn shop within walking distance. It took me a month or so to get down there, what with the move, the job-hunting, and the usual lazy. I finally managed to trot down there on a fine Tuesday, and was greeted by a large sign in the window saying CLOSING DOWN.

Well, shit.

I consoled myself by buying a couple of skeins of Noro Yuzen, a blend of wool, silk, and mohair, in a sort of pleasingly grungy mix of pink, gold, and teal.

cake of Noro
om nom cake

I knew almost immediately what I wanted to do with it; I wanted a triangular scarfy-shawly thing, relatively plain in the body, but with lacy pointy edges. I left it to brew in my stash until such a time as I could be bothered to do the maths.

casting on for black death, from a lovely cake of Noro
casting on for black death

But then Black Death broke out. I mean, it appeared as part of a make-along in one of my groups. I immediately drew the connection between the pattern and the skeins of Noro in my stash; I also made the pleasing mental connection between Black Death, the plague that wiped out 20% of the world’s population in the 14th century, and Norovirus, devastator of cruises in the 21st century.

Noro – the yarn – is also the devastator of knitters. It’s self-striping, with long stretches of colour that blend smoothly into the next. Except for when they don’t.

knot in a skein of Noro
My first Noro knot.

I was forewarned. I had seen many a CAPSLOCK wail of frustration from a knitter finding a knot in the middle of their skein, and tales of complicated jigsaw puzzles with multiple skeins, trying to get the colours to match and preserve the stripe pattern.

Limited as I was to the two skeins, I didn’t bother with this. There were knots in both skeins, but one of them meant the colour transitions skipped the colour I liked least, so I figured I wasn’t in so bad a situation.

knitting on the beach
black death on the beach. no not like that.

I spent some quality time knitting on the beach with Black Death. I finally made another mental connection; a triangular piece of fabric attached to a sturdy but flexible wire doesn’t half catch the wind. Fortunately, knitting does not resemble food, so I was at least safe from the gulls while I fought against the wind.

black death, knitted shawl, unblocked
Black Death, unblocked

I did have some struggles with the pattern, mainly because I was a bit blasé and didn’t swatch or really pay attention to anything as I was knitting. As the silk content in Yuzen is so high (34%?), it’s not very flexible. This meant I was knitting very loosely (as I’d killed my hands on teeny needles for murderpigs), so my gauge was huge and I my skeins began to look very stringy before I was anywhere near finished.

I mention a lot how I am stupid and stubborn when I don’t want to think about things. I knew I didn’t have enough for the border, but I went ahead and knitted the whole main section, and then acted surprised when the skein ran out half-way through the border. Then I half-heartedly thought about it, ripped back, and knitted it again. This time I ran out of yarn half-way through the bind-off. I think I had another false finish due to a yarn-hungry bind-off before I finally managed to get the damn thing off the needles.

flipping the bird at a blocking shawl
“Block aggressively”

The instructions said “block aggressively” so I hurled a few expletives for good measure. First outing for the blocking wires; verdict is that they are GREAT. I’ve got some really nice sharp corners on the… uh… corners, and being somewhat violent with the blocking is much kinder on the freshly knitted object as the stress is spread through the wire instead of yanking on a few stitches.

black death - a knitted shawl
black death shawl

And so, the finished object. It’s a very simple pattern, which is exactly what you need for a self-striping or variegated yarn. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Noro, and it will look terribly with my tweedy winter coat, but I can see it working really well in autumn when we’re still having office air-conditioning battles and I need something, anything, to preserve some warmth.

Black Death
Pattern: Black Death, by Hoxton Handmade
Yarn: Noro Yuzen
Black Death project page on Ravelry

WIP Wednesday: 24/04/13

Hello, friends, and welcome to another edition of What’s On The Needles (or sewing machine, or floor if I’m being really untidy)

Spring Shawl:

First up, an item that is no longer on the needles. Heh. I cast off on the shawl yesterday evening, and now just need to wait for an optimal time to get it washed and pinned out for blocking. I’m considering waiting until I can buy some blocking wires because I really want some and this would be the perfect use for them. But, I need to wait until I get paid.

Hey look, it's a knitted object without any needles attached to it. #knitting

unnecessarily twee spring shawl on Ravelry

Did I mention that I got a job? If not… I GOT A JOB. Trying not to spend my entire pay check in advance but it’s going to be tough. BUY ALL THE YARN AND KNITTING ACCESSORIES OMG *cough* anyway, moving on…


Yeah, this is the same picture as last week. And it doesn’t look any different, although since that picture was taken I’ve completed the fastening and added the lining. I went for snap fasteners and the crappy polyester; while I’d like to be a bit more sophisticated, it’s all just a bit too slapdash for me to go full-on couture. Next time. When I actually measure things properly.

Skirt is coming along nicely. #sewing

fancified pencil skirt on MSC

No more progress on anything else, but I’m just settling into the new work routine and finding it quite hard to get anything done at home, let alone the knitting. I mean – I’ve started to go on 6am runs because I don’t have the time in the evening. Well. Probably the time, but definitely not the inclination.

NB: if you find out who abducted me and replaced me with someone who goes for runs at 6 in the morning, please punch them in the head. It’s not natural. But at least I get to see lots of dogs being taken for walks. And you’ve got to admit – this is one hell of a running partner.

Can't get over how awesome it is to run with a view like this. :D

WIP Wednesday: 17/04/13

Definitely need a better naming scheme for WIP Wednesday.

Anyway, welcome to this nth edition of WIP Wednesday.

Still mainly three projects keeping me going through these delicious Spring days.

Spring Shawl:

This is getting there. At last. I’m on to the outer edging now so whargarbl excitement. Probably five more rows, then cast-off and blocking. Might finally invest in some blocking wires as I’ve been wanting to do for ages.

Shawl is on final 6 rows! #knitting

unnecessarily twee spring shawl on Ravelry

Orange cardigan:

Getting there as well. Probably needs a couple more inches on the sleeves, then I can do the rib detail. Then I can see how much yarn I have left, finish the lower edge rib, then pick up the button band. You might think this is unnecessarily complicated; well, it probably is. This is what happens when you buy yarn in totally random quantities and don’t do any calculations before you decide on a design. 😀

And the cardigan is looking pretty good too. :D #knitting

oxide cardigan on Ravelry


And even this is going quite well. It’s all in one piece, I’ve added waist facing (I did the best understitching of my life on that waistband, I’m super-proud), and now I need to do the fastening, hem the bottom, and probably add a lining because it sticks to tights like you wouldn’t believe. Not sure whether to use the icky polyester lining I originally bought for it or to splash out on something a bit fancier. My heart is drawn to silk but I’m not sure. Decision for another day.

Skirt is coming along nicely. #sewing

fancified pencil skirt on MSC

And there we go. A goodly amount of progress over the last couple of weeks. Now imagine what I could do if I hadn’t lost entire days to rubbernecking internet drama. 😉

Ravellenic misjudgement.

So, ‘Knitting while watching the Olympics’ kinda turned into ‘Watching the Olympics while browsing Tumblr for amusing gifs and memes’.


I’m not sure what my favourite one was. Probably this one of Epke Zonderland’s epic high bar routine.

Zonderland's routine gif

Though, McKayla is Not Impressed certainly provided some hilarity.

Fortunately, the scarf I was working on was always an unofficial Ravellenics project, so I don’t feel the need to apologise to the public for letting them down. And the Paralympics are still to come, so I do get a bit more time to finish this off.

Day 'oops I forgot to keep track of days or even keep knitting :D #ravellenics

This is as far as I got, by Friday, I think. I stormed through the beginning section, only to slow down dramatically as Tumblr got more interesting, and as I realised I’d have to design an edging on the fly. It was going to be a tall order to finish off an entire scarf’s worth of edging by the end of the closing ceremony, even if I had decided how I wanted to do it. Triangles? Nupps? Flowers? Leaves? I have no idea.

This is why I should always plan a project from beginning to end before I start it. One day, I will take that lesson to heart and apply it to my life. One day.

Ah well.

As I wander off to research edgings for scarves with I-forget-how-many-but-probably-not-a-conveniently-divisible-number-of stitches, I’ll leave you with a pic of another visitor kitty, from another postcode, who is probably the floofiest of the floofy cats I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Another visitor kitty, this one with some serious floof.

Kitty body language is hilarious. This is my favourite ‘I sort of want the attention of a belly rub but I don’t want you thinking I am not the majestic creature I believe myself to be, so I will partially reveal said belly to invite attention but keep my jaws and claws ready to BITEATTACK if I feel you’re enjoying it too much’ pose.

PS I came away from the situation with no broken skin so HA HA HA, floofycat, I win. 😀

WIP Wednesday: is there a medal for tinking?

Why yes, it has been a frustrating day.

I’m into a new section on my Ravellenic shawl. I’ve taken the Madeira pattern from Shipwreck, flipped it so the two sides of the shawl will mirror each other, and offset the two sets of ‘leaves’. Converting from in the round to on the straight means it now involves lace rows on the purl side, so I’m having to convert SSKs to p2togtbls, and then mirror that on the other side. My brain hurts.

Day 4 #ravellenics - slow going!

That’s where I was this morning. That’s pretty much where I am now, too. I misjudged the placement of one side of leaves so I had to unravel almost everything I’ve done today. Gah. Knew I should have put in a lifeline mid-pattern. 😀

The cable socks are still going.

Mustn't forget the socks.

Slightly slower than previously since I am cheating on them with this shawl, and I’m also trying to write down the cable pattern as I go so I can share it with you lovelies.

Anyway… Just a brief check-in before I return to the cycling. Wheee!

surprise!ravellenics project

I finally picked a project with which to disrespect the Olympics.

I stole away (by which I mean bought, don’t worry) some delicious yarn from a shop in Exeter about… a year ago. I think it was my reward to myself for finishing my dissertation, with the intention of making it into a triangular shawl thing. I’ve made one before, an Aeolian to be specific (here’s mine), and while I loooooove it, I mostly wear it as a reading-in-bed-neckwarmer because it doesn’t really go with any of my coats. This yarn still doesn’t really go with any of my coats but is a little bit more subtle than OMGORANGE.

I sat down in front of the Opening Ceremony with the untouched skein. I’m not going to lie; it’s hard to wind yarn when your head is tilted so far to one side in an expression of amused confusion. But I managed it in the end.

My efforts during the opening ceremony last night. #ravellenics

I have to say, I did love the batshit opening ceremony. I am easily embarrassed by things like this but not only is it hard to wind while headtilting, it is also hard to cringe.

I decided to start very plain, just because this is the bit that will get most scrunched up around my neck, and so that there’s a good section where the yarn isn’t overwhelmed by patterning because it’s so pretty. I did a garter tab cast on, and got on my way in stocking stitch. This is how far I got on day 1, while watching everything from swimming to gymnastics to archery to basketball:

Progress after day 1 #ravellenics

LOOK. LIFELINES. As I’m improvising, I expect I’ll end up unravelling bits of it so I wanted to make sure that was as easy as possible.

Day 2, I did a bit more plain stocking stitch, but then thought FLOWERS. Because, spring. I guess? I don’t know. I then realised that this is going to be the most unnecessarily twee shawl I’ve ever seen. Meh. I spent the day mostly trolling around after Team GB after I found this helpful timetable. In between times I gaped at the awesome female weightlifters and tried not to look down at my spindly, weak little arms.

Day 2 #ravellenics

I’ve watched so many events now I’ve lost count of the number of athletes and countries I’ve disrespected with my knitting. I WIIIIIIIIINNN. How about you?

death in the forest

Last week, I gave a little teaser of a finished object, which was almost ready to be revealed. And here we are! One completed ‘Death in the Forest’.

death in the forest

2m across, more than 6m around (I love π) and a bajillion stitches of awesome. If I do say so myself.

As I mentioned before, it’s an adaptation of Shipwreck in laceweight, with a couple of the stitches swapped out, and the addition of net panels to break up the designs. The pinecone and arrowhead lace sections are my addition, intended to fit the theme of death and misery.

death in the forest

The purple appears a little bit cheerful for such a dark theme, but that’s just the effect of a white backdrop and a sunny afternoon. I’m sure that with a suitably gothy outfit, it’d look wonderfully moody. Imagine this over a floofy black dress, and enormous boots:

death in the forest

I’ll get the NiN out.

Patience is a virtue.

I rushed out a crappy necklace at breakneck pace. Then the next day, I powered my way to the end of one of the supposedly ‘epic’ projects on which I was working. I could have finished this a whole half hour sooner if it hadn’t been for that pesky jewellery.

cleopatra - blocked

Once again, my dress form is better dressed than I am.

This is my rendition of the Cleopatra Wrap. I started it as a sort of mindless project, something simple and repetitive that I could work on while doing my NaNoWriMo novel. It certainly served its purpose, and as a bonus, kept me occupied through a couple of long train journeys.

I like the construction; you make the ends, then the middle, and graft them together with a neat bit of kitchenering. This means the ends match perfectly, and as long as you get the grafting right, the join is invisible.

cleopatra - grafting

Not quite invisible. But pretty neat.

The yarn is a home-dyed effort, from the same base as my Aeolian. I was aiming for a dirty turquoise, but the blue didn’t stick. So I dunked it back in vinegar and decided that dirty jade was close enough. The variegation has come out perfectly; all the speckles are spread out enough to break up the solid colour, but not so much as to distract from the lace pattern. Dye 1, me 1.

This is great though, because it brings me back down to 3 WIPs; now I can officially start planning the next one. Woo! Neverending artistry!