Thursday, October 27, 2011

Brackenhill Shawlette

I'm so excited to be back to show you a very special FO--my first Faroese-style shawlette design. Ever since I made Ysolda's Orchid Thief Shawlette from Brave New Knits exactly a year ago, I have wanted to try my hand at designing one of these beauties. Delia at Ravenwood Cashmere requested a shawl design of me back in 2010, and because she knows how to set things in motion with style, had already sent me four beautiful skeins of her lace weight domestic cashmere yarn to do the sample. This past summer I finally got busy.

Delia is of Scottish and Irish heritage, so I wanted to infuse her shawlette design with lots of Celtic flair. When I found this Argyle lace pattern that makes up so much of the territory of Brackenhill, it was fairly easy to also find some compatible panels to center and to border it. The center panel and the border remind me of the Celtic knots I love so well and I liked the way they neighbored the diamond-and-Scotch-pine lace pattern. It took a little tweaking to make the math all work, but I learned so much while putting this design together.

I love how you can wear it fanned completely out and it drapes all the way past your waist. I also love how you can wrap it cozily up around your neck. The cashmere is so soft and warm, yet light and not so fussy.

As I tried to figure out the perfect name for the shawl, I asked Delia for some place names of her Scottish ancestors. She told me the most fascinating tale of the Will Graham clan of father and eight sons who lived in the border area of England and Scotland and shifted their residences according to how best to escape the law. They were a raucous bunch who took care of themselves, as they were such notorious scallawags that the larger Graham clan had "put them to the horn"--ousted them from the family. One of the manors they inhabited in England, and the only one of their 13 Scottish design towers that still stands, is called Brackenhill and was home to Richie Graham, Will's grandson. In fact, Brackenhill is the only Scottish design tower left on the English side of the border. The property was sold in the 1990's and renovated into a grand luxury destination, especially for newlyweds who tie the knot at nearby Gretna Green in a popular tradition of holding their hands clasped together over the anvil of the ancient blacksmith shop there.

I can imagine a young bride wearing this shawlette on her special day at Gretna Green, cant you?

The Brackenhill Shawlette is a Faroese-style shawl made with approximately 565 yards (3 skeins) of Ravenwood Cashmere lace weight yarn on size 4 needles. It is available from Ravenwood as a pattern booklet and soon as a kit. You can purchase the yarn to make it here until the kits are ready. The pattern includes both charted and written instruction for every part of the shawlette and plenty of pictures to help you along the way. It's a fun knit that begins with just a few stitches at the neck and finishes with the true lace border of RS and WS yo increases and accompanying decreases--a bit of a challenge that definitely rewards you for your efforts. Ravenwood Cashmere is a remarkably strong yarn for so delicate a 2-ply and I can attest that I have never encountered a knot nor a break in this well-spun yarn. It's pure joy to knit. Just ask Clara Parkes, who said it so well in her review of this yarn.

Huge thanks go to my daughter Natalie Goza for these gorgeous pictures. I also have to thank Commencement Bay here in Tacoma for providing us with a perfect cloudy day to snap these shots. It helped me to imagine being in Scotland by the sea. 

I hope you'll give Brackenhill a try and let me know how you like knitting her. I hope to have time to do another one myself soon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday #7: Cardigans, Socks, Toddlers, & Arugula

Ha! You thought I'd fooled you, didn't you? No foolin'. I'm really back.

A couple of weeks ago when I'd finished Secret Project #1 and my time had gotten freed up enough to jump on all the other projects waiting, I sat down and made a hard list of everything I wanted to accomplish work-wise from now until the end of the year. Here goes: Finish and release the shawlette pattern for Ravenwood, finish and release the women's top-down cardigan for Figheadh, finish and release the men's top-down cardigan for Figheadh, design a Fair Isle cap for Ravenwood, design something yummy for Marsha, design a fabulous cable sweater for Liz, finally figure out an earflap hat for Figheadh (with cables of course), balance the books for third quarter, finish and release the five glove and fingerless mitt patterns I have been trying to get to for over a year now, finish the Tsunami socks (see below), finish the Lace Scarf sample (see below as well), back up all the files on my laptop because it's acting funny, finish a cable sweater design with Schaefer Miss Priss that's been on the needles for over a year now, finish a cable blanket design for Figheadh, and finish a combo knit/crochet coat design for Mirth I started last winter. Oh, yeah, and the two Wanda Nells I have on the needles. Think I can get this all done by the week after Christmas? Well, I've already completed seven of these. It pays to make a tight plan. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

First up in the WIP roll call is this men's cardigan I'm making for Fred. He picked out this Cascade 220 Paints himself. I see now that it goes with the vintage robe he's been patiently waiting for me to repair the whole entire ten years we've been married. The lining has come loose in a couple of spots, so I've put it here in the living room to remind me to finally, finally fix it. I can see him when he's 88 wearing this cardigan over this robe, thinking he's looking all GQ. Cuz he's funny like that.

And here's the progress on the Tsunami socks. One down and mostly one to go! Been too tied up to pay enough attention to them (see above list). But isn't the Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Sassafras gorgeous? If you'll remember, this skein of yarn was one of the only two I bought at Sock Summit (because it never disappoints) and my intent was for these to be mine. Nope. Turning out too big. They will be Fred's as well, but no worries--there are lots of knitted things ahead for me.

This scarf for Ravenwood is about five pattern reps away from the finish line. Whenever I have the time to visit with her, though, it's time well spent. Cazhhhhhmeeeeerrrrre. Yum!

And I can't let you go without a garden update. We harvested the rest of the tomatoes and the one pumpkin that our little raised bed produced and replaced them with some cauliflower, spinach and these little arugula seedlings we sprouted ourselves. I hope they grow to be big enough to eat. It's already getting quite chilly here, so we might need a row cover, my mom, the Master G says. She's over in NC growing blue potatoes. Imagine that!

What I really, really can't let you go without seeing is the Grandtwins and their 18-month-old selves. Yes! Eighteen months old today! Look what a big boy Malcolm is getting to be!
And Miss Lucy--so grown up and fancy. I envy them their naturally curly hair.
Okay, enough visiting for now--I have some math edits for the women's cardigan pattern to do and the calculator is calling my name. I'll be back soon with how the list is going. I hope you are having good day! Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 21, 2011

I'm Back!

Why did I take a month off? No, I wasn't lost nor kilt as you might have suspected. Been working! I had so much to do that I knew if I didn't stay away from the computer, it would never all get done. I wanted to pop in and say hi so many times, I even wrote several posts in my head (what? you didn't get those?), but knew if I opened my laptop, sheer hours of time would slip away and I just couldn't risk it. I am highly distractable, you know.

During the past four weeks I have completed a major secret two-part project (that I hope you will see publicly around next May), finished the women's cardigan pattern and two samples (pattern currently with the editor), finished a shawlette pattern for Ravenwood (releasing any day now), finished the men's cardigan pattern and am making the sample now, and dealt with a couple of other huge personal projects, not to mention the regular life requirements (like reorganizing the garage and the kitchen).

My hope is that you've been too busy to notice anyway. Okay, that's it for now, but I'll be back soon with some pictures to show--the other part of this show and tell. Have a lovely fall Friday!