I is for Ishbel

As you can tell by now I adore knitting and crocheting triangular shawls and I love this pattern. I made two for Stew’s wedding in quick succession and now I’m making another :) I offered to make my mum a shawl as a thank you present and eventually found the right shade of purple to match her coats. Of course as soon as I had ordered the yarn I found the *perfect* yarn for her in my LYS. Of course I bought it and made a Holden shawl to keep me busy until the other yarn arrived. I thought I would show her the two and let her choose. However the other yarn arrived and was magenta instead of a violet purple! I thought best to have the choice made before knitting the second shawl and mum decided she wanted both! So Ishbel was cast on (again).

One of my favourite things about this shawl is the shape. I often find triangular shawls sit a little strangely on the shoulders. This pattern has more of a curve around the ‘top’ edge which makes it sit perfectly around the neck as a scarf. It also stays on the shoulders if worn as a shawl too. This is achieved by performing yarnovers between the garter edge and the body on both the right-side and wrong-side of the work. This means increases at the edge on both knit rows and purl rows, but centre increases only on knit rows as usual. Thankfully the triangular shawl maths I blogged about earlier still works perfectly as the increases are uniform row on row. The resulting shawl is a little wider with a slight curve, depending on how it’s blocked. I love this shape and technique so much that I plan to adapt some of my other favourite triangular shawls to incorporate it. I might even design a new one as I’m running out of patterns with a plain a stockinette body, all that I’m able for at the moment. All suggestions of suitable mind-numbing knits for one skein of sock yarn or laceweight will be most welcome! I leave you with a beautiful photograph of my first Ishbel.


Photo courtesy of Evin: http://evinok.net

Six months in the making

Well, it’s finally done. 39 repeats and two mitred corners.

I finally cast off on the 27th January which is, serendipitously, exactly six months after I cast this project on. I actually made it through a record four repeats in the last day. A finish line is a marvelous motivator.


I didn’t take a measurement before blocking, but the shoes (UK size 6) give an idea of the scale.

Next step, washing and blocking. I’m already out of the closet as a big fan of blocking, but I’ve never blocked pure silk before. I did some reading online and on ravelry and there were a lot of mixed opinions on it. Some people said never soak, just pin and spray. Someone suggested ironing to bring out the shine. Stretch it like crazy, silk is strong. Don’t stretch it, silk is vulnerable when wet. It won’t grow because it’s not sproingy like wool. It will grow because the stitches will slip past each other easily.

For lack of a clear path, I decided to go carefully with what has worked for me in the past. I soaked it with some soap (read: shower gel) and gently squeezed out excess water with a towel. I used my alphabet blocks as usual, although because I was worried about staining I pinned a white duvet cover down first.

I had planned on using blocking wires, but I quickly decided they were just going to be too straight for this, so it was back to my old pinning ways. 39 boarder repeats, each repeat had three points, that’s a lot of pins! Plus a few at the corners to define the shape. I didn’t have to pin the centre, just having the edges pinned out opened it up enough.


Blocking (Why yes, that is a twister duvet cover)

I also didn’t pull the knitting as tight as I usually would with wool. Often when I block a shawl, as it dries, and therefore shrinks slightly, the blocking mats will be pulled up into a curve with the tension. I’m a harsh yarn mistress! None of that with the silk though, just pinned out enough to open up the design. Even still, it has opened up a fair bit. You can see how much of the shawl is actually the border. There’s a final row of large yarn overs, and then a row or two of garter and after that it was all border. All in all, it must be close to half of the finished size.

After an inhumane number of pins, this is the finished result. Six months, two countries, and almost uncountable numbers of knit stitches. All worth it.

After blocking

Next time I’m going to go back through my WIPs and see how I’ve been doing. Which really means I have two weeks to finish sone UFOs before I publicly shame myself!