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!


La Rue said...

Love this pattern. It is sooooo complicated but so beautiful. Nat did an excellent job with the pictures. Especially love the picture that is on the pattern booklet on the Ravenwood site. I can't imagine how complicated the pattern must be to create all these areas. Wishing you success with completing everything on your list. luvm

Kara Gott Warner said...

Wow Jen,
Gorgeous of these days I'll muster up the courage to try something like this myself. I will admit, my biggest fear with knitting lace is dropping a stitch!

Kelli said...

Jen, this is lovely! Great photos and I can just imagine how it looks(& feels) in person with that beautiful Ravenwood cashmere...will you make one for me in your spare time?! :)

GirlAnachronismE said...

That is such a beautiful shawl. I love how all the geometric repeats fit together.

fig said...

Thanks, folks! I need the wishes, Mom. Kara, you need to knit a shawl--no worries. Just set aside some quiet time for yourself and be prepared to count, count, count. Kelli, I know you're kidding. GirlA, thanks for noticing the geometric quality of this shawl. That's what I was going for. Next, though, I want to design one that's all flowery and roundy. It's all good.