Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Princess Plans

So I’m back to knitting my Princess Shawl, I have to admit I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself.  I bought the pattern in 2007 I think, I know it was just after my daughter was born and I was getting back into knitting regularly.  I had stumbled across the Heirloom Knitting website and fallen head over heels in love with the photo of Sharon’s Princess.  I thought it was the most beautiful piece I had ever laid eyes on and I bought it with out any hesitation with double of the amount of Cashsilk needed (I had initially intended on knitting the square version).  I remember starting it almost straight away (even though the instructions stated it was for expert knitter and I was most certainly NOT!) and giving up on the third row of the edging as I couldn’t stop my hands sweating with the tiny needles and thread combo and everything just bunched together miserably and looked atrocious!  So I gave up and it languished in the bottom of several bags until last August when I bit the bullet and tried again. 

Luckily, I was a little calmer and understood a little more about Lace and Gossamer thread and tiny needles so I was able to complete the edging strip in a little over a month.  Unfortunately I put it aside again as I fell in love (two timing the Princess, tut tut!  I think she has forgiven me!) with Sharon’s Lerwick Shawl (so much so, that I knit it twice, once in 2 ply lace weight and again in 1ply gossamer).  So here we are over a year later and I’ve picked up my Princess again.

So far, progress is going well, I had a little problem initially with my needles as the yarn was getting caught in the join between the needle and the cable.  As there are so many stitches on the borders (865), I wasn’t able to bunch them up on the needle and use them from there, so every row was a nightmare, lifting each and every one of those 865 teeny stitches onto the needle.  Thankfully Ravelry and Heirloom-Knitting’s Yahoo group came to the rescue with some suggestions and after I used some super glue to bridge the gap I have been knitting happily away. 

I have reached row 35 today of 220 so I have made really good progress over the past few days.  Despite the number of stitches it takes me roughly half an hour to forty-five minutes to do a row depending on distractions (kids, food, housework, TV and hubby!) and once you can see the pattern, emerging the knitting is fun and not too difficult.  Even though there are 78 stitches to a repeat (I thought I would never be able to memorise that amount and would go blind scanning the chart) I can knit away without looking at the chart after the first one.  The pattern kind of knits itself!

So as I knit away and daydream, I have been thinking of the best way to tackle the centre triangle of the shawl.  After the Laurel Leaf insert I should have 647 stitches to work the centre on.  This works out at 642 rows altogether of the centre pattern leaving me with 647 stitches at the end (if I have any of these calculations wrong, feel free to correct me!). 

At present, the centre pattern is 12 stitches a repeat with 46 rows.  I was thinking of amending the pattern repeat to be 48 rows high as then I could re-chart it so that I could have a working repeat where the side shaping is the same for each repeat (so that my brain doesn’t explode when I’m knitting it from the booklet with no side shapings charted!). 

If I have a 48 row repeat I could work 13 repeats (48 x 13 = 624 including the first 16 rows at the beginning with no pattern = 640 rows) then I could knit 2 plain rows at the end (640 + 2 = 642 rows).  So far theoretically it all fits (hoping that I have my initial calculations right!) and I was hoping to amend the centre pattern on row 10 of the repeat (by shifting the ‘tree type’ motif up one row but leaving the O/ where it is – separating the motifs) and on row 26 of the repeat (again by moving the \O O/ upwards by one row).  This may not make any sense to anyone else, but once you look at the pattern, it should work out.  I really hope my calculations are right!  I’ll probably change my mind by the time I’ve gotten that far!

There has also been much discussion on the top corner edges and the fact that they sometimes ‘dog ear’ when knit.  I trust that they will dress/block out but as soon as I get that far I can always add a few more repeats to ease the edging around the corner so I don’t consider it a problem that can’t be resolved.  It always amazes me that wool can block so wonderfully, my Blankie Hap edging was dog-eared on every point until I blocked it.  If I wasn’t so sure of the end result I might never have started it!  The cashsilk is a different horse altogether, there is no give in it at all.  It’s very hard to get a nice photo of it all pinned out, you can’t see how glossy and pretty it looks and I just can’t get a true representation of the colour, which is such a deep rich claret.  So it’s full steam ahead for the next few weeks so that I can get the bulk of the borders done.   

So to anyone considering knitting this pattern, the answer is yes!  It will be the piece of your lifetime, it might take an age to knit, but don’t be daunted, savour it and enjoy the process as well as the finished object.  I genuinely look forward to picking it up and knitting another row or two.  I know I’ll get there eventually!

Take care and happy knitting!


  1. Dog-eared corners (hate the term for a traditional Shetland method :-) )do dress out and it was a considered choice for that Shawl. You can dress a corner and see it fits round! Lace's characteristic is its elasticity, and sometimes a fully gathered corner is inappropriate as it may become a focus for density.

    I too, think the Princess a beautiful shawl and it saddens me that there has been such concern over this respected method used by the originators and mastercraftspeople of Shetland for decades.

    BTW, I have no issue with 'gathering for corners' and use it were appropriate, but here for the Princess, it wasn't/isn't necessary. It seems to have become an issue again recently, so I'm taking time to set down my stance, and thank you for giving me a chance to say!

    Very best wishes!

  2. Thank you Sharon for commenting (apologies for the delay, I only just realised you left a message). My Princess is resting again, but I plan to pick her up again very soon, I'll keep you posted with progress reports and want to thank you so much for bringing this beautiful pattern to life again, it truly is a wonder.