We’ve been pretty focused on knitting socks around here, and there’s plenty more to come, but on today’s podcast episode, I’m returning to my first love, shawls. I have two recently finished projects to share, plus a new cast on. In the background, plans are afoot for a whole new season of The Shawl Society. So, if you love hand-knit shawls, or just cosy chats about our favourite pastime, pull up a comfy chair and join me.
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Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast. You’re listening to Episode 329. This podcast is all about crafting a life of happiness and creativity. I’m your host Helen, and you can find me on Ravelry as HellsBells, and on social media as Curious Handmade. You can also find full show notes and transcript on my website at curioushandmade.com.
I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsor, A Yarn Story.
Hello, and thanks for joining me today for a chat about knitting and stuff that’s happening in our lives. This week, I have really been feeling the change of seasons. It’s a little bit ironic, because where I live, the seasons don’t change very much. But just from hanging out on Instagram and some newsletters, spring is definitely arriving in the Northern Hemisphere. And that is just giving me the urge to do some spring cleaning. Maybe I’m still on a little bit of a Northern Hemisphere schedule or something, I don’t know.
But I have been thinking lately about doing another thousand-item purge for my home. So I would’ve thought that might be challenging. After doing it, I don’t know. November last year, not that long ago, but it’s a good quarter since I did that, and I think I’m going to do it again in March. So if anybody wants to join me on that project, you’re very welcome to. Basically what I did was just purged 1000 items from my home. And it did take quite a bit of work, as you can imagine, but not too bad. I just kind of collected everything on the dining table basically, and gradually sifted through it, and got it out of the house in various ways. Some things I gave to friends and family, some things were just trash unfortunately, or recycling, and some things went to charity shops. So I think that’s mostly what happened. I didn’t manage to sell anything, but I think because I was just in a bit of a hurry to get it all dealt with.
This time, I have started a pile of kids’ clothes, that seems to just be a constant thing, really. They’re just growing so fast all the time. And yeah, and I think this time I might tackle some slightly different areas, but I did get rid of some books last time. I did give some books away. But I could probably go further with books. And maybe this time I will focus on tackling some sentimental items. I didn’t really go into that last time, so maybe I’ll get a bit deeper this time and see if I can review those things.
My original concept was based on The Minimalists Game, and they’re two guys who call themselves The Minimalists. They have a podcast and videos, and there’s this hashtag (#minsgame), I think it’s just called The Minimalist Game, whereby people do a challenge. And I think you’re kind of meant to do it with a friend, and that’s why it’s a game, because you’re sort of challenging each other. And so day one, you get rid of one item, day two, two items, and so on. And it adds up to 470-something items, I think if you do it for 30 or 31 days. And I saw a video where a couple did it together. And so they ended up with 900 things in the game, and then I added another hundred to make it up to a thousand. So I liked that. Round number.
I’m not the only one to be thinking about spring cleaning and getting organized. I had a newsletter from my lovely sponsor, A Yarn Story last week, talking about spring cleaning and Carmen was talking about organizing her projects and project bags. And yeah, so if you’d like to sign up to the lovely Yarn Story newsletter, it’s always full of inspiring ideas and content, and sometimes, yarn.
The other thing that’s been on my mind this week is shawls. And I suppose this was a little bit prompted by my spring cleaning efforts and organizing efforts, because I found my little to-do pile, which included two shawls that needed blocking. And so I thought, “Right. I’m going to finally just do this.” And I blocked my Pure Joy Shawl by Joji Locatelli, that I knit last year, and also Hermine Jean Granger shawl by Tyne Swedish, that I also knit last year, and I’d been putting off blocking because, you know, blocking. And I thought, “Right. Don’t… Just do it really, really quickly. Quick and dirty, or quick and clean.”
And so I just soaked the shawls for five minutes, rolled them out in a towel, and then I just spread them out on a bed, and didn’t pin or anything. I had to close the door, because puppy was jumping all over them and wanting to get involved. And we have ceiling fans here, so that helps. When I was in London, I used to have a little, I don’t know what you’d call it, a desk fan or just a stand-alone little fan, that I used to direct onto my blocking bed. But yeah, we are lucky to have the ceiling fans. So yeah, I just spread out on the bed, pulled them out a little bit to sort of stretch out the stitches, and just left them for a few hours. And that did the trick. So now I have two blocked shawls, and I will attempt to take some photos this weekend. Hopefully I’ll remember, and get organized. I’ll leave them somewhere in a prominent place, and do a few quick snaps if nothing else, if I can’t do a full glamor photo shoot of them.
So just to give a little review of the two patterns, I’m so thrilled with both of them. Pure Joy, by Joji Locatelli , is a bit of a classic. This pattern has been around for a long time. Its gorgeous: crescent-shaped shawl with short rows, and it’s kind of like rays of a contrast color and eyelets. It’s so pretty, so beautiful, and very, very enjoyable to knit. It did take me a while, because personal knitting projects just do take longer for me. I just spend whatever time I can on them. And then I think this one was counted as my deep stash, Knit 20 for 2020 prompt last year, because I knit it with some yarn from Juno Fiber Arts dyed by Asti in the UK, who was dyeing when I was just starting to design. And I absolutely fell in love with her beautiful soft colors, and the beautiful basis she used.
And so when she announced that she was stopping dyeing, I already had quite a bit of her yarn in the stash, but I took the opportunity to buy a bit more. And I haven’t used very much of it. I feel a bit sad about that. So I should maybe get some of it out, and make a plan for using it. So I’m absolutely thrilled to have used it in this Pure Joy gorgeous shawl. We thank you for the yarn, Asti, and thank you for the pattern, Joji.
The other shawl I knit last year is the Hermione Jean Granger Shawl by Tyne Swedish. I knit this using La Bien Aimee Yarn, Dyed by Aimee. And these were also fairly deep stash. I would have had these colours four or five years, maybe. I don’t know. I’m losing track of time. So I can kind of date it, because one of the colours is Pom Pom, which I think was from their fifth anniversary party. So I don’t know when that was. Two years ago. The other color is Amy’s Lipstick, which is the most delicious, hot pink color I’ve ever seen. And Peony Graffiti, which is a lovely pink speckle with blues and teals. It’s just gorgeous.
So this is another crescent shawl, and it’s stripes, and so the pattern calls for striping, all these delicious different pinks together. I made one small mod, which was to extend the shawl, and keep knitting a few more rows than it suggested. I’m not sure how many more rows I did, to be honest. I just kept going for a while, because I wanted to use up more of the yarn.
And I put a little border on it in the hot pink, which I’m really pleased about. I wasn’t quite sure at the time when I was knitting it, whether I liked the look of the little border, but now I’m really thrilled with it, and I think it’s going to make it look really cool when it’s wrapped around my neck. It’s a really long crescent shape. It’s not very deep. So it’s kind of almost more like a scarf, and I will definitely wear it as a scarf, more so than a shawl, I think so. And it’s got the gorgeous twirls at the end that you get with a crescent shawl. So yeah, I look forward to sharing pictures of those with you, because I know that I’ve been talking about them for a very long time on the podcast.
And I do tend to talk about my personal needing projects a lot, because a lot of my designing is secret. And so, yeah, I talk about my personal projects. But I don’t get through them very quickly, so apologies if you’re a bit bored of hearing about these two shawls, but I’m super excited to have properly finished them. I cast them both off ages ago, but now they feel actually finished.
So now that I have completed those two projects, I have pulled out a work in progress. And this is the Piper’s Journey shawl by Paula Emons-Fuessles. As you probably know, Paula is a very, very dear friend of mine. She was my inspiration to start podcasting. I still remember hearing about The Knitting Pipeline podcast first episodes being advertised on, I think the The Yarniacs and 2 Knit Lit Chicks podcasts that I listened to back then, and still do listen to. And they were talking about this new podcast, about a person who was playing the bagpipes, talking about nature and knitting. And I remember hearing them talking about it, just thinking, “Wow, that’s an interesting combination. I better check it out.” And yeah, I was blown away from the very first episode of Paula’s, just her warmth and knowledge about knitting, and all sorts of other interesting things.
And then when Paula started designing her gorgeous shawls, I enjoyed knitting some of them as well. I started knitting this one a few years ago now, when I went to the Knitting Pipeline Island Retreat and Tour, and Paula had invited me to be a teacher at the retreat, and design a pattern. And it was just before the retreat that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And I remember that phone call as well, her calling to tell me that she wouldn’t be able to go, because she would be having treatment. And so we went ahead with the Retreat and Tour, because it was fairly booked in at that stage, and Jan, another knitter in Paula’s community, led the troop.
And we had a knit-along for that trip, which was this Piper’s Journey shawl. And I started knitting mine, but, because I was designing a shawl for the retreat, and it was quite busy beforehand, I didn’t get mine knit, which was the idea, that we would knit them before the retreat, and take them on the trip. But I started knitting it with yarn that I had been given on one of Paula’s retreats, and it’s a beautiful, soft blue. And I pulled it out, and the stitch marker that I put on it to mark the right side, because it’s a garter stitch body on the shawl, is an angel. It’s a Christmas angel stitch keeper that was designed by Paula from the Eva Faith shop. She does gorgeous stitch markers and little notions.
And I just thought, “Oh, how appropriate is that stitch marker for Paula right now?” Because she is really ill with her cancer, and just is needing all our thoughts and prayers at the moment. So yeah, I’m knitting on this shawl, and just thinking about Paula, and it feels really good to be keeping her close at the moment, and thinking about all the joy and friendships she has brought into the world through her podcast and designs and retreats, and just thinking about what an extraordinary person she is. So that project is what I’m working on at the moment. And yeah, just a big shout-out to Paula and her crew, many of whom are very dear friends from over the years. You know who you are.
I guess I also have shawls on my mind, because I have been working away on designs for The Shawl Society Season Five, which is coming up quite soon. And I’ll be talking about it a bit more in the next month or so. But the year is galloping away, which means that this thought of The Shawl Society will be upon us in a couple of months.
I’ve had some people asking if I’m also doing The Shawl Society, as well as The Handmade Sock Society this year, and I can confirm that the answer is yes. I’ve made good progress on the design, so I feel comfortable about saying that it’s happening. And so yes, just keep an ear out. And also, if you are not aware, you can also get a free copy of my Spindrift Shawl design from my website. And I just want to mention that, because if you sign up for that workshop and pattern, you’ll also be signing up for my newsletter. And if you’re interested in things like The Shawl Society, and what’s happening with that, then you’ll get the news on my newsletter first.
And just finally, an announcement. We have the February Knit 20 for 2021 winners to announce. So on Ravelry, we have post 142 by SilkeSF , and her nominated yarn shop is Tribe Yarns in London, which is a very, very lovely yarn shop. I visited a couple of times when I was living in London, so a fairly new yarn shop, but they’ve been around for a couple of years now.
And her entry was for finishing a Whip Cables pullover, and a new-to-me designer, as well as a bucket list project. And the project is Harley, which is a really cute pullover by Jenny Williams, and it’s got cables going down the arms and the sides, and also across the shoulders in the Raglan shoulder seam. And what does she use to knit this? She’s used Knitters Brewing Company Sock-acholic Brewski yarn, which is a worsted weight yarn. Gorgeous, gorgeous pattern. It’s really cool. It’s got a really cool collar as well, like I think you call it a funnel neck collar, what is that, a short funnel neck collar. And then the other winner is @lydiashomestead on Instagram, and she’s knit a really fun, scrappy scarf, and has nominated Molly Klein Design as her indie dyer for her prize.
So thank you so much for participating Knit 20 for 2021. If you want more details about what this challenge is all about, you can go to my website at curioushandmade.com, and there is a link on the menu bar, which explains all about it and how to enter. And if you’re entering on Ravelry or Instagram, don’t forget to mention your nominated yarn store or indie dyer that you would like to have your prize from.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to my sponsor, Meadow Yarn.
Thanks so much for joining me for a chat this week. I hope you’re well. I hope you have a good week. Happy knitting, and I’ll talk to you again soon.