My grandma is a big knitter. Everytime I wanted a sweater, she would knit me one, she even sometimes knits for my friends. She tried to teach me when I was a teenager. I managed a couple of scarves and a sweater for myself, but I would run to her or mum for help everytime anything other than straight knitting was involved. Then I got into sewing and forgot about knitting altogether.
This spring, however, amidst lockdown, when I was paradoxically extremely busy with work, uni, and another course I was doing, I didn’t really feel like sewing most of the time, but still wanted to do something with my hands. I have long been admiring hand-dyed yarns in their pretty skeins, so I thought I would give knitting a go again and have an excuse to buy some.
When it came to choosing a pattern, I knew I wanted something relatively simple, but pretty. Long ago I fell in love with Andrea Mowry’s designs, and decided her Find Your Fade Shawl would be the perfect starting point. Why start small when you can go for a huge yarn-hungry project, right? So I splurged on an insane amount of yarn (you need 7 different colours that fade into one another) and cast it on.
Thank God for Youtube tutorials, because I needed to look up almost all the different stitches, from casting on to casting off. Andrea Mowry has her own Youtube channel where she shares different techniques for specific patterns and her tutorial for knitting the lace section of this shawl was a great help for a newbie knitter like me. Once I got my head around all the abbreviations used in the pattern and remembered how to knit them, it was all smooth sailing. Sure, there are a some mistakes, but I doubt anybody could spot them besides me, given the size of the whole thing.
And once I started, I couldn’t put it down, excited about how it would look when I added a new colour, and how it would grow… It was a perfect way of winding down after a long day for half an hour or so, or to sneakily knit on it during boring Zoom group meetings (with the camera turned off, of course). I totally get all the talk about the zen of knitting and things like that. You should try it for yourself!
Now for all the yarn I used. As I mentioned, the original uses 7 colours. I used a couple more, as some of the sections don’t take that much yarn and I wanted to use up a bundle of mini skeins I bought. My original plan was a bit different, but as I was knitting, I changed my mind a couple of times. But I am really happy with the result. I started with three colours from my Martin’s Lab Number Eleven mini bundle of merino singles – Lights and a combination of Cuteness, and Cuteness Attack for the next section. Then I faded into Martin’s Lab Dark Forest on the comfy merino base. Next up was Vivacious 4 Ply in the Heavenly colourway, followed by Blueberry Imps and Peacock. Then it was back to the minis, combining the Crush and Glamor colourways for the last section. All the yarn comes from two fab Czech yarn stores – Vlněné sestry and Yarn Queen.
Et voila, my lovely pinky purply ginourmous shawl was done, in the space of about five weeks! Then I was too scared to soak and block it for more than twice that length of time, but it all turned out well and I didn’t ruin it, yay! It’s so soft and scrumptious and warm, it’s going to be absolutely perfect for winter with my pale grey coat. It’s also great now in early autumn, when it’s just a little bit chilly – I’ve been wearing it with a plain white tee as an extra layer in place of a sweater, like in the photos here.
So I think my knitting so far has been a success, though I have nothing on my grandma yet. I made another shawl in the meantime as a gift for a friend and I just cast on another Andrea Mowry pattern – this time the beautiful Wool & Honey sweater. Wish me luck!
Until next time,