Instagram has opened up a whole new knitty world to me - knitalongs!
I signed up to not one but two shawl knitalongs at the end of May - not that I don't have any other projects to be getting on with but you know how it goes...
First up was #greatdividekal2015 (I'm using the Instagram hashtags here so you can go check them out if you wish) which was hosted by the lovely Jessie @bigheart_smalltown.
This what a bit of an impromptu project - I was packing to take Roo to stay with my parents for a few days in the half term and looking for something small and simple to take with me when I spotted her post about a shawl knitalong using a pattern called The Great Divide Shawl by Michele Brown. Rooting through my stash I found a couple of vintage cones of yarn I had been given a while ago that I thought would be just perfect.
The pattern calls for DK yarn and mine was closer to 4ply/fingering weight so I dropped from 5mm to 4mm needles which meant I probably knitted a few more rows than I would have done with DK and the wingspan of my shawl ended up slightly smaller but I am still super pleased with the results! (the tassels were not part of the original pattern - I added them as a finishing touch and love them!)
The second knitalong was hosted by one of my favourite designers Gudrun Johnston aka The Shetland Trader. The #shetlandtraderMKAL was a mystery knitalong with Gudrun releasing clues via Ravelry over a four week period. Again I went through my stash and decided to use some lovely Shetland wool I had by J C Rennie and again not sure of the yardage of my part used skeins I went for the smaller size.
As a shawl knitting novice I loved not knowing where the pattern was going and the simple but beautiful design was perfect for a beginner shawl knitter there were even a number of threads set up on The Shetland Trader Ravelry group discussion board so we could all share our shawls and give help, advice and encouragement. Gudrun was very active here and on Instagram cheering us all on (and clarifying pattern points when necessary!) I even managed to keep up with the schedule, completing each clue in time for the next one.
I loved the construction of the shawl - each section was knitted in a different direction and even picking up the stitches between sections one and two added a great design twist to shawl.
I have decided to gift this beautiful shawl to my mum who I know will love that yellow ( I just need to find a perfect brooch/shawl pin to go with it!) but I love it so much I am already looking around for more yarn to make another one just for me!
I have learnt several new techniques in making both of these shawls
including splicing two yarns together for colour changes, using yarn
overs to create loops on the outer edge of the knitting, knitting
through back loops to create lovely twisted stitches that really lift
the pattern, a new method of binding off that is perfect for lacework as
it is stretchy, and finally blocking the finished shawls to open up the
lacework. Plus I have two projects started AND completed in less than a month!
I think my love affair with knitalongs has only just begun - I love the camaraderie, sharing and encouragement that comes with working the same pattern with a whole group of like minded people from all corners of the globe! I loved seeing all the different interpretations of the same pattern. I loved the challenge of knitting to a deadline as I am notorious for starting projects, getting bored and not finishing them!
In fact I enjoyed it so much I think I will join in another before the end of the month ( I still have a few days!). #Fringehatalong* here I come!
Here are links to Instagram and Ravelry accounts where you can find out more about both of these projects:
Jessie's Instagram is @bigheart_smalltown
Michele Brown can be found @republicofwool on Instagram and also on Ravelery
Gudrun Johnston is @gudrunjohnston on Instagram and many of her patterns can be found at Gudrun Johnston's Ravelry Store
Don't forget you can check out all the lovely shawls from these two knitalongs by searching the hashtags #greatdividekal2015 and #shetlandtradermkal
* another Gudrun pattern! Yay!!