Friday, October 07, 2011

Two small shawls

Earlier, I mentioned my plan to knit a To Eyre shawl during my recent trip to the UK. First, I had to find the wool for it, and I wanted something from the UK, not imported. Of course I didn't really need much excuse to visit as many of London's wool/yarn/knitting shops as I could. And it was worth it because they were all quite different to each other.

I Knit in Waterloo was a pleasant space with a moderate range of yarn and a good range of books. It was a seriously rainy day, and there were only one or two customers in and out while I was there. I looked at their wool for a long time, including the 5ply Blacker yarn that I thought might work for the shawl, but then I just bought a couple of sets of Knit Pro harmony needle tips for my collection, cheaper than at home. Lots of things (but not wool, particularly) were a bit cheaper, mainly because the Australian dollar is strong at the moment.

I loved visiting the tiny, cute and utterly charming All the fun of the fair in Soho. This shop has some wonderful things, with really only a small amount of yarn but lots of great knitting and sewing accessories and cute miscellaneous things. It's in Kingly Court, a lovely centre/arcade full of boutiques and crafty/arty businesses just off the disappointingly sterile Carnaby Street.

Loop, in the upmarket market-y Camden Passage, Islington, is two really full floors, with an extensive range of yarns. I believe it was set up to be much like an American-style yarn store.

I also checked out the range in Liberty - all Rowan - and the John Lewis department stores with their interesting range of knitting tools and other haberdashery. I was tempted by an icord maker, and thought I might come back for it but didn't. Never mind, I actually like knitting icord anyway.

The most interesting shop was Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green, which only stocks UK-milled yarn. It's also a textile/knitting gallery with a bit of a punk/DIY aesthetic. It was great to talk to Louise, who really knows her wool and the sheep that produce it. After much deliberation I finally settled on some beautiful Jamieson Shetland Spindrift for my shawl. I knew it was a bit lightweight (the pattern is written for a 5 ply) but I thought I could make it work, thinking that I wouldn't mind a smaller shawl anyway.

Ha! You see why I cropped my face out of the other pictures, but this one is so hilariously sad I had to show you. I promise I am not actually THIS sad about my shawl. However, it doesn't really stay on without me holding it like that. Also it's not sitting well around my shoulders, is it?
I knit the whole shawl while I was away. It's a great pattern and ideal for travel knitting. (If anyone has looked at the actual pattern, I did version 2, which only comes in one size. There are now four different versions included with the pattern, partly in a quest to replicate what seem to be several different shawls Jane wears in different parts of the film). Before I was halfway through I became concerned about the size, but it still seemed like it should work as a little scarfy shawl. And I suppose it does, if I scrunch it up around my neck a bit, as in the photos below.
The Shetland is a bit scratchy worn this way, and the frill around the edge seems to have disappeared.
As soon as I got home from the UK, and recovered enough from the jet lag to concentrate for an hour or two, I cast on for the Chadwick shawl by Stephen West. This is from West Knits Book 1, which I picked up at Loop. Although it was the man-shawl styling in the book that really drew me in, I didn't have a man who wanted a shawl. I wanted another shawl!
I used some beautiful Knittery handpainted merino cashmere sock wool which I've had for years, combined with greige patonyle. On 3.5 mm needles it made a wonderful drapey, soft fabric.

It's almost unfortunate just how much I love this one, and how easy it is to wear - it seemed to go with all my outfits this week - because it's made it much less likely I will wear the Eyre shawl in its current form. I definitely want to make that one again, but I'm not sure yet if I will unravel it and upsize the pattern for a bigger one in the same wool (I used less than half of what I bought to make it), or whether I will start afresh with another wool - maybe a 5 ply, or even an 8 ply for a bigger, blanket-y, TV watching shawl. I really don't mind the shetland wool not being super soft, it is so light and warm, and I love the way it looks in the garter stitch. I just don't think I'm very likely to wear it all bundled up around my neck.
I thought it was interesting to compare the two, because they are quite similar in size. It's the unusual shaping of the Chadwick that makes it drape around the neck so easily. That's not just the camera angle, it actually is asymmetrical. And it might annoy some people, but I just love the way the ends curl up when I wear it. I also think the design is clever and funky, the contrasting striped and plain sections work really well to show off a nice handpainted yarn. I will enjoy this much more than I ever would have enjoyed socks made from the wool.


Rose Red said...

Interesting comparison of the two shawls and good yarn store reviews! Gee I hope I get back to London in the next little while!

DrK said...

they are both gorgeous, really, and look great on you. that photo made me laugh, i thought you did a very good job of looking suitably despondant, jane eyre style :)

Bells said...

this is all very interesting, given I plan on making this soon.
Love that sad photo!

Demelza said...

looks gorgeous Liv - i did worry about your sad face so thanks for explaining. Happy face.