Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Lerwick Shawl

Don’t know why I left this so long. I’ll only be able to update weekly, as I have no access to the internet at home so bear with me!

The wonderful Lerwick shawl is complete. I finished the shawl and blocked in September and I’ve been gazing adoringly at it ever since. I haven’t the heart to put it away. Its sitting neatly folded at the foot of the bed, so every morning I unfold and look at it in awe! I made THIS! Unbelievable! Previously it was over the back of the sofa but I attended a friends wedding on the 3rd of October and wore it over my little black dress. It was a blustery cold day and I was glad of the cover up. Of course, after all that work, I refused to take it off at the reception and wore it all through dinner! Snuggly and warm, it was a wonder I didn’t get dinner on it!
Anyway, the shawl turned out to be far more beautiful than I imagined. I remember when I bought the pattern first and I read through the book and saw all the additional information and alternative edgings, centre and border and I remember thinking to myself “nice, I think I’ll try this in a while, have loads of other projects to do first”. I was in the middle of my haps and baby clothes for expectant friends. It didn’t scream “MAKE ME NOW” and I was quite happy to leave it for a while. However, beware of these types of patterns! They may seem all inconspicuous and innocent at the beginning but they are smart and sneaky and lure you in and before you know it you’ve finished the first and you’ve started the second and you are unable to take your eyes off it. Your husband complains because he hasn’t had a conversation with you or a home cooked meal in weeks and is sick of take aways and your children have square eyes because you have let them watch too much TV! This thing took over my life! Where did September go? I have no lasting memories of the month bar knitting ‘just one last row, then I’ll be with you’. My husband is now painfully aware, that to me, knitting one last row usually involves over 800 stitches and could possibly take a while! Shh, don’t tell anyone but I’ve now started a second one (1ply Shetland supreme in fawn) and I can tell October and November will end up in the same place as September!
So what made me fall in love so gradually but so hard? The pattern is deceptively simple and with no mitring of the corners and the larger size needle (3.25mm) it chugs along quite nicely. The three main pattern elements (web diamonds, lace hole diamonds and fancy web diamonds) are quick to emerge and as there are only 3 it is motivating to know that there is only 1 or 2 left to do when they emerge. I even managed to complete the edging in under a week, there were no messy corners to ease over with extra repeats (something I was initially wary of, but decided to trust the pattern and go with it – and it worked! Every bump smoothed out with blocking).

Blocking was fun because of the cruciform shape of the borders and no ease around the corners with the edging. I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t block out fully square but slightly rounded. It’s also one of the biggest shawls I’ve made and it had to be blocked on a bedroom floor. We don’t have big rooms so I was literally hugging the wall trying to get the pins in! I have blocking wires and I used two long ones threaded through each point on each side so that I could manipulate them into a ‘steeple’ shape on each side to stretch it out fully. A little spray of starch and I was all done. I left it over night and then unpinned it and photographed it when it was all crisp and pointy. The Shetland Supreme is a little rough and hairy to begin with and has a very distinctive odour (!!! Maybe its just me!) but it is easy to knit with. The stitches behave on the needle and the wool really lends itself to the patterns. Once washed and blocked it becomes soft, fluffy, extremely stretchy and very the definition is very crisp. It’s warm, light, and easy to wear. It’s big enough to wear as a square with a ‘collar’ turned down and a nice pin as a closure or as a large triangle. This reminds me, I must get a nice shawl pin. Silly having so many shawls and no shawl pins! I love how it turned out, have I mentioned that before???

One down and one to go, so here is to Lerwick number 2! I have 25 points knit already using the alternative edging with two insertions. It’s a wide edging so after some consideration I have decided to ease it around the corners and made two extra points for each side. I know I didn’t have to with the first border but I don’t want any puckers at the edges this time. Then I will make the alternative 1-ply borders and finish with the lacier centre. I hope to knit the centre to the two border sides as I go so there may be a little tinkering with the stitch count at the end of the borders. Then there is the graft at the end of the centre to the final border inside edge. I’ve never done a graft so big before and I know I will have to practice before I get to that stage. I’m alternating this Lerwick with my Princess as the Lerwick can be done in artificial light and the Princess is better knit in daylight.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this "Heirloom" story! Thanks!

  2. I cannot even tell you how glad I am to find this post - I was having a minor meltdown because I just started the edging and I picked up Heirloom Knitting and read you need extra rows on edging corners or your corners will be horrible misshapen things that will make you cry. Then I find this, and it turns out it's okay. Phew. I think now I will do what you're doing and add a couple of extra points to be on the safe side. Still, YAY! for your lovely shawl, and I hope mine looks so good!

    1. Oh dear, please don't cry :) Corners can be tricky little things, but generally pure wool has great give and stretch and usually block out perfectly no matter what treatment you give them! I would love to see your Lerwick! Thanks for commenting :)