First Stitches in Shetland Lace

Last weekend, my local yarn shop This Is Knit, organised a workshop on Shetland Lace with Gudrun Johnson. The class was really interesting. Gudrun began by explaining the construction used in Shetland lace, and then as we began work on our garter triangle, explained the history behind it. I found this really fascinating, it’s such an integral part of their heritage. I found some photos on the Shetland museum and archives website if you’re interested in seeing some historical examples. I love learning more about the history of knitting, it helps me feel connected to the past and particularly to the generations of my family who would have knitted to supplement their income.

As the workshop progressed we added to the body of our shawls and then added an edging. This is a mini version of Gudrun’s design Flukra and it’s really beautiful, with lace losenges. She recommended a pure wool yarn so I chose Shetland 2ply Jumper Weight in pink. Hmm, I don’t think I’ll be knitting with pure wool again, I’m all about the soft yarns, mmmm alpaca. But anyway….

MiaI didn’t get my shawl finished during the class but decided to finish it at home. Initially I thought I might frame it, as a piece of yarny art (and I think I’ll still do that with another lace swatch). But when it was blocked I realised it was the perfect size for my dog Mia. She loves dressing up. So now it’s her shawl and she loves it.

I hope Gudrun doesn’t mind me putting her beautiful design on my dog. I think it’s super cute on Mia and she got so much attention in the park today wearing it. I’m still going to knit some Shetland lace for myself. I’ve chosen Loren, especially after seeing this beautiful version on the This Is Knit blog. Isn’t it beautiful?

Have you ever knit a Shetland lace shawl? Or have a knitting tradition where you come from?

A Digital Library Exhibit

Cables and LaceIn my previous post, I discussed the creation of my digital library, the development of a Collection and Content Policy and the issues I encountered when creating metadata for the collection. The final part of this assignment for our Digital Libraries (IS40560) class was to create a poster or exhibit about the collection, either as an online presentation in Omeka or as a paper-based poster. I created an exhibit called Cables and Lace. Below is the essay I submitted detailing the visual choices made as well as challenges and issues related to information presentation.

For my exhibition I decided to focus on two different knitting techniques that serve a similar function but in very different ways. I hope that my exhibition will inspire users to consider different knitting techniques and how that can enhance the overall knitted items well as motivating users to consider how these techniques can be used in non-traditional ways. The exhibition also serves as a marketing tool to draw in new users to the library by using strong visual elements. Items in the exhibition are taken from a range of collections within the digital library to encourage users to further explore the digital library as a whole rather than focusing on individual collections.

Exhibition inspiration

Cables and Lace, as explained in the introduction to the exhibition, are two means of adding texture and visual interest to a knitted item in very different ways. Cables use crossed stitches to add density to the knitted fabric while lace techniques open up the fabric by using various increase and decrease stitches.

The exhibition also aspires to inspiring users to consider non-traditional ways of using these techniques. For example, within the Cables section of the exhibition the example is given of a knitted necklace designed to give the illusion of a cable. Similarly, the girl’s dress in the lace section of the exhibition shows how use of lace techniques can add interesting detail to garments. A blanket is also featured in both sections of the exhibition, showing how lace and cables can be used together with interesting effect.

The exhibition also serves as a marketing tool for users who may still consider knitting as something their Granny does. I hope to dispel the myth that knitting is only for older ladies who knit Aran jumpers for their families. The examples used within the exhibition show that knitting can produce beautiful, modern and versatile pieces.

Exhibition Design

The design of the exhibition uses the same theme as the whole digital library. This should give impression that it fits seamlessly into the library, rather than feeling like a separate website. It is designed to give context to the wider collections and as such function as part of the library.

Adding two distinct sections – cables and lace – to the exhibition allows the user to compare and contrast the two techniques while the addition of the blanket to both sections serves as a link between them. Within each section I chose a highly visual layout that highlighted the images of the items. I hope that this is not only aesthetically pleasing to me but I hope this would also appeal to my users.


Similar to challenges faced with Omeka, my main frustration was the limitation in control over how things display. For example Omkea asks the digital librarian to create an exhibition, then to create sections within that exhibition and finally to create pages within each section. While I can see the logic of this within a larger exhibition, for a smaller exhibition such as Cables and Lace this adds a lot of redundancy for the end user. I would have preferred the option to simply add my content directly to the different sections rather than having to create additional pages within each section.

From an aesthetic point of view I would have preferred the option to add a logo or selected images within the collection to the front page of the exhibition, however this is not possible. We live in a society with a limited attention span and the addition of visual interest to the front page of the exhibition would give the opportunity to entice users through our virtual doors.

Shaelyn Shawl

This shawl was knit with 4.5mm needles (well one 4.5mm needle, see below) and Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk yarn. The pattern is Shaelyn by Leila Raabe.
Shaelyn shawl knitting laceI had several false starts knitting this shawl, but I learned a lot and the finished shawl is stunning. This is thanks to the delicious yarn. Alpaca silk is absolutely yummy, I loves it. I mean, it’s alpaca blended with silk, what’s not to like. I’ve become a bit obsessed with navy recently (finally over wearing a navy uniform in primary school) and the finished shawl has the most beautiful sheen and is so silky soft. I’ll wear this as a scarf with the point to the front. Must try and get a photo of that. I was very put off by the idea of shawls until I realised I didn’t have to wear them over my shoulders, but instead more like a scarf.

Shaelyn shawl knitting laceHowever, it was not without it’s problems. I started with 5.5mm needles, then switched to 5mm after the beginning chart as I wasn’t happy with the tension. Then switched again to 4.5mm as I still wasn’t happy. This was my first fudge, because I just switched needle size without starting again.

My second fudge was slipping the first stitch knitwise, until I realised this wasn’t giving the smooth edge that I was looking for. The first two stitches are knit on both the wrong and the right side. For some reason that I cannot figure out in my brain, I need to be slipping purlwise to get the smooth edge. Again I didn’t rip, just kept going, now slipping purlwise.

Then as I approached the second lace repeat I miscalculated how many stitches I needed on my needles and knit two rows too many (there are 4 increases on each right side row). I could fudge this too, but then one of my stockinette stripes would be longer than the rest.

Individually I could live with these fudges, but all together they were getting to me and I decided to rip back and start again. Even though I hate ripping back and avoid it at all cost.

Oh and then, just as I was about to do the final lace chart I realised I was using one 5mm needle and one 4.5mm needle. D’oh.

Lovely lavender

I just realised that if I keep sharing everything I make for the wedding on my blog then there will be no surprises on the day. But I am so proud of how my knitted lavenders are looking I can’t resist. According to Wikipedia a boutonnière is a floral decoration worn by men, typically a single flower or bud. The word comes from the French word for buttonhole, which is the British term.

Knitted lavender boutonnière buttonhole


Before Christmas I was searching the Ravelry pattern database for Christmas decoration patterns. I don’t know what I clicked but the next thing I knew I was staring at these knitted lavender and a plan instantly formed in my head. The pattern is from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet by Lesley Stanfield.

Knitted lavender boutonniere button hole

I tried using a sport weight yarn but they came out too big for my liking. A sample in laceweight turned out much better. With help from the staff at my LYS This Is Knit I choose Rowan Fine Lace in Vintage and Malabrigo Lace in Olive.  R asked for something a bit extra for his so I added two lavenders in Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Oyster that I used for my shawl.

Knitted lavender boutonniere button holeI’m using 2mm dpns to knit the lavenders and for the stems I’m using garden wire wrapped in double sided tape and wrapped with the olive yarn. I’ve used some twine to tie them together. This twine is being used throughout the decorations for the wedding. I love the twine, the texture and the look of it. I know, how sad right?

I’m am spectacularly happy with how these are turning out so far. Here’s the Ravelry project page.

Sneak peak

Ok, I couldn’t wait any longer. I won’t be at home in the daylight until Friday and really wanted to take a few photos of my ‘stole’. (The word ‘shawl’ left Rossa worried that I would look like Peig!?!?) I brought the stole into work and took a few quick photos on my phone.

Ballybeg knitted lace shawl

I can’t get the beautiful soft sheen of it but this isn’t a bad photo. In real life the beads *really* twinkle. I’m going to have to spend some time with my SLR translating that into a photo.

Ballybeg knitted lace shawl

So there you have it. I still can’t quite believe it’s finished. Better to pics to come at the weekend I hope.

Ballybeg Shawl

Ballybeg is my first knitting laceweight project. It is also the shawl I will wear for my wedding. The shawl is named after the venue we are getting married in, Ballybeg House in Wicklow.

I chose Fyberspates Scrumptuous Lace in Oyster. It’s a 2ply silk merino blend and I’m not ashamed that the one kilometer yardage terrified me. This yarn is indeed scrumptuous, it is so lovely to knit with, so soft with just the lightest sheen to it.

I also wanted to use some beads to give it the wow factor. I chose 4mm clear AB Swarovski crystals and I’m using a .5mm crochet hook to add the beads to the stitches as I go along.






I had initially swatched for Cold Mountain by Kieran Foley. I really like the geometric patterns in this shawl and also like the idea of choosing an Irish designer. But once I had chosen my dress I realised as beautiful as cold mountain is, it wouldn’t suit the dress. The photos below show the blocked and unblocked swatch.

Another Kieran Foley design caught me eye, Echo Beach. The pattern uses “shifting columns of dropped stitches” that flow through the pattern like little rivers, I chose to do the column of two dropped stitches version. I’m a tight knitter so am using 4mm needles for this project.

The chart is repeated three time across the shawl so I’m adding three beads to every second row, on the wrong side. I’m adding these on the purl rows, to the stitch immediately after the yarn over (YO).

This is costing an absolute fortune in Swarovskis but I think it’s worth it. I tried out some Bonarski crystals I got in Winnie’s Wool Wagon. These are considerably cheaper but I can see the difference in the sparkly-ness , so will switch back to Swarovskis.

So far I have 7 and a half pattern repeats done and pinned the shawl out this morning to get an idea of how it’s coming along and to take some photos.