Learning from designing a knit-a-long shawl
Jan 30, 2019
I have recently had my first experience of one of my designs being used in a knit-a-long.
Having been involved, I would recommend the experience to other designers.
It came about through chats about shawls and shawl patterns with Sara Geraghty of Black Sheep Wools. She had an idea for a Betwixtmas knit-a-long that would start after Christmas days and give people a project for the period between then and the New Year.
She asked me to come up with a shawl that wouldn’t be too complicated for that hazy, lazy part of the year and be something that a first time shawl knitter could tackle, but which would still offer a little bit of a challenge.
With a shawl design, finding the right yarn can be crucial. In this case, it needed to both be right for the shawl and something that would suit Black Sheep’s retail offering.
We settled on Fyberspates Vivacious 4-ply a 100% merino yarn that comes in a range of delicious semi-solid shades. It is perfect for shawl knitting because it blocks well and has a lovely drape.
I swatched and sketched and we finalised on this design for the shawl.
A classic centre out triangle that is about three quarters stocking stitch with a diamond lace edging. This means knitters can get used to the shaping (and in the case of the KAL, recover from Christmas) before tackling the lace pattern.
With the pattern and samples done, my role was to sit back, enjoy the launch and wait for the knitting to start.
The launch was a big hit with 1000s of copies of the pattern being downloaded for free from Black Sheep and many people falling in love with our yarn choice.
And then people started to cast on and share their experiences to the Black Sheep make-a-long Facebook group.
As a designer and pattern writer it was interesting to see the parts that knitters found harder and as a teacher it was enjoyable to offer advice and help to get the through those problems. It will make me think about the notes and support I can provide for future patterns.
But the most pleasure came from seeing pictures of people’s progress and then the finished shawls. And there have been so many, I have lost track a little. Especially when some people cast on their third versions.
Here are just a small selection.
Thanks to Sandy Brown, Alison Locke, Anita Pearson, Chris Clark, Roberta Couchman, Carole Rigby, Sarah Aston, Rita Lee, Hilary Shepherd, Alison Neave, Loraine Walker, Jane Holt, and Marion Beet.
And yes I am now mulling over future knit-a-longs.