Stormy

I have a finished Laminaria to show y’all. It’s gray, stormy and just.. not a summer shawl. This lovely yarn was purchased when I was in Gothenburg in January this winter and really never got around to finish this shawl in time to wear it at all. Since I was working on the Wildflower blanket and there has been a lot of crochet projects in my hands lately, some knitting was a lovely change. I’ve missed the natural goodness of pure, lovely, warm wool. Also, it has helped me take a break from monotonous crocheting so alternating between crochet and knitting gives my arms and hands some rest.

I used to be a yarn snob. Yes. You heard me. A proper posh yarn snob. I paid a lot of money 10 years ago to buy unique, handmade and hand painted yarns from all over the world.  Back then in Sweden there were only a few stores that i knew of that carried these yarns so I ordered a lot from abroad and it was not cheap. I did a lot of lace knitting, shawls, and other things. I never made a blanket with that yarn back then, let alone I was not crocheting as much as I am doing today. Making a blanket with this kind of wool would have ruined my economy let me tell you! So as I started to crochet bigger projects as the years went by I was looking high and low for cheaper woolly alternatives but it fell on Stylecraft’s Special DK yarn as they are so affordable and easy to manage.

Back then I frowned on acrylic yarns. Today I rejoice that my if my blankets get dirty I can pop them in the wash without worrying about them shrinking or getting ruined. Deep down inside in my woolly heart I do still believe I am a bit snobbish with my yarn though. There are days where I keep drooling at  lovely natural fibers still and wished my entire house was stuffed to the roof with these fancy yarns. But for garments I still stick with some form of wool. I can’t bring myself to knit acrylic for that.

I remember I saw this Laminaria shawl in Knitty one day and was amazed. I had never, ever done such an intricate lace shawl before. This was waaaay back when my darling W was still a baby (he was just born), and I had so much time on my hands as he was such a good baby sleeping all.the.time. He was not a fussy baby at all so I got pretty bored as he slept so much. I was home for almost 1.5 years with my little munchkin nesting, baking, crafting my heart away. So with that long time on my hands I started this creative hunger of learning a bit more complex knitting, lace knitting, new knitting stitches, learning to make socks, Selbu mittens, Latvian mittens.. Estonian shawls.. things I would have never imagined doing a few years before then. Before that I only made very simple things that were easy to pick up after a short hiatus. So my love story with Laminaria have been a long, inspiring and lovely one.

I think I’ve done this shawl over 12 times already. I can’t stop making it. It is so pretty. It’s one of the more modular lace shawls out there that can be made to a knitter’s preference which is such a great thing.

At first, when starting to knit lace, one can find it pretty daunting but let me tell you, paying attention and knowing your basic stitches will help you a looong way. Also. I already knitted some easier lace patterns before starting with this monstrosity but to be honest I just didn’t know what I was in for when I bought the yarn, printed the pattern out and started this. There were some tears, frustration, some aggressive cutting (yes. I was really upset) and also a lot of counting, frogging, counting again. Paying attention with this pattern is key. Once you got the rhythm of this shawl, the stitches will fly off those needles and you will gain that knitter’s confidence everyone talks about.

I have never done the full repeats for both the repeat patterns as listed in Elizabeth Freeman’s pattern, but it is a bit tempting to be honest. This stormy Laminaria is just as wide as I am tall (5.5 feet, 1.65 meters) and it’s big! And to that, I only did 4 blossom repeats and the full star stitch repeat as advised. Not that I am complaining though. It’s lovely, squishy, dreamy and warm. It’s not a “wear this for a cool summer evening shawl”. It’s a “Crisp Autumn morning” shawl. The alpaca is soft, easily knit and the stitch definition is great. It does smell of sheep though after I soaked it in cold water before blocking it…ah the joys of pure wool! 🙂

So for the deets: 
Pattern: Laminaria by Elizabeth Freeman
Yarn: Drops Alpaca in color Gray (0501)
Needles: Addi circular needles in 3.5 mm
I could have probably gone up a bigger size in needles but I wanted a more “dense” shawl for Autumn/Winter. It still turned out pretty lacy after aggressive blocking.

Tips on knitting this shawl:

  • Knit the first and last 3 stitches of the shawl loosely.
    I skipped this part out the first time I made this shawl, and it doesn’t block properly if you don’t follow this advice. Blocking will be a bit hellish without looser edges.
  • Worried about how the shawl is looking?
    Before wet blocking the lace stitches will look wonky. Once blocked, that is often when you will see the lacy details of the pattern.
  • If unsure, use stitch markers for ever pattern repeat.
    This is a good way of keeping track of every repeat, but also remember with this pattern you will need to shuffle those markers around.
  • When it doubt, count!
    Count the stitches as advised in the pattern so you know you are good to go for the next step.
  • Not sure of how to knit the stitches?
    Try and practice before hand. I remember that the 3-9 and 2-9 stars can be pretty tricky when you’re not used to them. YouTube has great videos on this.
  • Not sure what knitting needles to use? 
    I use sharply tipped Addi Lace fixed circular needles in the appropriate gauge (most often this preference is individual). I find that the 80/100 cm length for shawl knitting is great.
  • Not sure what yarns to use? 
    The thinner the yarn (lace weight, fingering) the lacier the shawl will be. It will also depend on the your tension, size of your knitting needles and how defined you would like the lace to be. I like a more dense look to my shawls. Sometimes knitting a few squares or samples in different needles and yarns and wet blocking them can give you an idea of the look of a finished project. If you are new to lace and you have a LYS (Local Yarn Store) close by; Try to visit a store to have a look at the yarns closely before purchasing. Don’t try buying lace yarns online unless you know exactly what you are after. Lace yarns are very thin and comes in different textures and fibers. It can be a hit or miss and you don’t wanna fork out that much money on yarn that might not be suitable for your project right?

Will I do a Laminaria shawl again? Yes.
Will I keep loving this pattern forever & ever? Yes.

Lots of love,

T