I've been rediscovering knitting recently. Laura inspired me over on her Beads by Laura blog to get my needles out of the loft with her lovely hand knitted socks. Over the past few months, I have knitted several pairs myself- here are a colourful selection drying in the breezy weather we're having at the moment, along with some jeans! (It's not you, the dryer is leaning a bit ..!) I've been a knitter ever since I was tiny - my mum taught me to knit not long after I started school. My auntie Vi taught me to crochet and I continued both for years and years but once I married and had been working for a few years, I gradually stopped. Before the latest sock bonanza, my last big project way back in the 1980s was an heirloom "wedding ring" shetland shawl. They're called wedding ring shawls because the lace knitting is so fine, the shawl - even though it was several feet across - will pass through a wedding ring. It was knitted in really fine shetland wool called "cobweb" which gives you an idea of how delicate the yarn was - way finer than the 4-ply I most often use for socks.
Anyway, the shawl was finished shortly after I got married, I entered it into a craft competition. I have been desperately trying to find the photograph I took of it with my 2nd prize card but I can't find it - I'm sure it will turn up at some point. Unfortunately, I cannot take another photograph because the shawl itself got lost when we moved out of our flat in London. I can still see the box in my mind's eye, it was a box which a radio had come in and the shawl was so lightweight, the box felt empty. I have an awful feeling one of us threw it away ... (not saying which one but it wasn't me!)
Every time we move house, I am hopeful that it will turn up but as we've moved 5 times since then, I'm pretty certain it is gone forever as well as the original pattern which I can't find either. Ever since then, I have been promising myself to knit another wedding ring shawl but never got round to it ... until now.
I have tracked down a supplier for the yarn, Jamieson & Smith, and bought a book on heirloom shetland patterns. I've designed a stole myself from the motifs and patterns in it. Here is a photograph of the pattern that dominates it, there is a big central diamond with various motifs in it - I have only just started that bit. All around the edge, there will be a border, knitted separately added a row at a time so there's quite a bit of work involved. As you can see, it's black this time instead of white - I think I'm more likely to wear it as an evening stole if it's black.
I'm hugely enjoying knitting it - I need a very good light because the yarn is so dark but unpicking errors is a nightmare. The first time I tried just unravelling 3 rows and picking up the stitches again - that was a mistake - it took so long and didn't go right at all - I ended up having to start all over again! The last couple of times I found errors, informed with my previous experience, I now undo it stitch-by-painstaking-stitch and it takes 20 minutes to unpick a single row. There are over 100 stitches in the row, the bit that I've photographed has a pattern repeat every 16 stitches and 20 rows. I have put in a white stitch marker (which you might be able to just make out in the photograph) after each pattern repeat. Mostly that keeps my knitting accurate because if I have an incorrect number of stitches after each pattern repeat, then I know I've done something wrong virtually immediately rather than finding out at the end of the row.
It is now about 30 inches long but I spotted another mistake a couple of weeks ago - this time six or seven rows down ... part of me was saying "don't unpick it, just leave it - it's quirky, it's handmade, no-one will ever notice" but another bit of my brain was screaming - "NO NO NO, it's wrong and it'll annoy you forever". When I discovered the mistake, I put it aside whilst I knitted a pair of socks for my dad. I just picked it up again today and I have decided yes, I must rectify the error so after bead cleaning this evening, that's what I'll be doing!