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Bellagio Shawl – Tadah!

You may recall that I went to the Unravel festival in Farnham a few weeks ago, and these are the skeins of yarn I came home with. Very restrained, I think, considering I could literally have bought something from every single stand had money been no object!

I bought the Bellagio shawl pattern from Debonnaire Yarns and planned to use the yellow yarn for it, which is a laceweight Ainsworth Prin bought from The Knitting Shed, 80/20 Baby Alpaca & Silk.

There’s something special about skeins of yarn as opposed to the balls that are more readily sold. I love the process of transforming it into a yarn cake, too. All part of the pleasure of hand knitting, I suppose.

I used a 3.75mm circular because I didn’t have the 4mm one that it required, so the final measurements were slightly smaller than those listed.

The border was an easy-to-memorise 16 row lace pattern and, unusually, it was an asymmetric design.

After completing the main border, I made a spontaneous decision to change the colourway and add in the navy yarn bought at Unravel. Making it up as I went, I included three golden stripes to break up the navy and add interest.

The ‘feel’ of the original pattern has totally changed but, as I wear mustard and navy together, this combination in a shawl made perfect sense.

The construction is slightly unusual, but I like the asymmetry of it which is enhanced by the three stripes.

A little under two weeks, and it was nearly finished.

I really must get some blocking pins, but until then, I’ll continue to use dressmaking pins and a towel on the dining table.

Here’s the finished shawl, laid out over the back of the sofa.

I did make several mistakes in the lace – not that you’d notice as the pattern is very forgiving.

Being laceweight, the shawl has a light texture and drapes beautifully.

It’s nice and warm around the neck, without being constrictive as it’s so light that you don’t really notice you’re wearing anything!

It’s already drawn lots of compliments (shawls do, don’t they?) and goes well with my Stag’s head dress – a favourite which is bearing up well considering how often I wear it.

The thing about hand knitted shawls is that you simply can’t buy them, which is why they get noticed, I suppose. I love having something unique….which is why I can’t wait to cast on another one with some more of that lovely yarn from Unravel:)


Sunday Sevens #114

Time for another Sunday Sevens instalment – linking up with Nat over at Threads & Bobbins.

1. Mr H-L was working abroad for a few days and needed a new suit, so we went to Clark’s Village and had breakfast at Tamburino Village afterwards. No, I didn’t manage to eat it all – it was a huge breakfast!

2. Bekki, from The Dartmoor Yarn Company, set herself a UFO challenge which spurred me on to sew up the hat I made for No.1 Son before Christmas so he could finally wear it.

3. Lovin’ using the blue lidded dish I found in a charity shop a while back. This time it contains homemade smoked salmon pâté.

4. Talking of food, I’ve found my appetite is changing and I can no longer manage three meals a day (an age thing?). Mind you, with breakfasts like these, it’s not surprising I don’t want to eat again until supper time!

5. Does anyone else subscribe to The English Home? I love this magazine and immediately sat down with a coffee to enjoy reading it when it popped through the letterbox.

6. Apologies if this makes you choke on your toast, or if you’ve already seen it on IG, but I’m dressing up as Dolly Parton for my sister’s 50th next month and tried on the wig for a laugh. The fabrics and sequins have arrived and my aim is to recreate Dolly’s Glastonbury outfit, as it is a Glastonbury Festival themed party.

7. So proud of my students’ achievements – Ellie made this adorable little outfit for a baby girl, over the course of a couple of months.

8. Blocking my Teal ‘Yoga jumper’ before sewing it up and starting on the hood. This has been my Winter project this year and I’m pleased to be near the finish line as I have plans for my next project already.

9. Three day’s worth of washing in our house which they all groan about when asked to sort it out. Bearing in mind it’s all been washed and dried for them and the fact that the sum total of my laundry amounts to the pile of knickers on the floor in front of the basket, I’m damned if I’m doing it!

10. Morrison’s café has just reopened after refurbishment, so I took The Boys in there for supper one night after they helped me with the shopping. It’s a vast improvement and, after saying as much to the staff, it seems that they love it, too.

11. I finally found the right shawl pattern for the yarn that Claire hand dyed for me as part of this year’s Stitching Santa gift. It’s the Eyelet Neck Scarf by Allyson Ryan on Ravelry – and it’s free!

12. Couldn’t resist this cute pair of ankle boots from Heavenly Feet.

13. Finally, on Saturday night we went to watch Snow White, a pantomime by the Shipham Players, in which my brother-in-law is heavily involved. It was ace and the seven ‘dwarves’ stole the show as far as I was concerned – head dwarf ‘Grouchy’ being about 6′ 4″!


Knitted Lace Baby Shawl

Way back in June I was contacted by a childhood friend whom I haven’t seen for thirty years and asked if I would consider knitting a shawl for her upcoming first grandchild. 

I don’t normally take commissions for something like this, but she asked so nicely and was so obviously a fan of my work that I decided to make an exception and agreed on the basis that this would be my evening project. You know, the kind that you pick up for a couple of hours every evening so your fingers have something to do whilst watching TV.

The baby was due in early October, which meant I would have to get cracking as three months is not very long in shawl-knitting terms, and I estimated that about 60 hours of handknitting would be required. I had no problem choosing the perfect yarn – the softness of Alpaca combined with the smooth quality of silk made this the obvious choice.

A laceweight yarn, the silk adds a subtle sheen and would make an incredibly light and delicate shawl.

I ordered 4 skeins in “Wedding White” as the gender of the baby was to remain a surprise, and off white would be ideal. Each 50g skein contains 439 yards of yarn so, although I hadn’t yet decided on a pattern, figured that 1700 yards should be plenty.

Look how fine the yarn is!

It all got off to a bit of a false start because I wasn’t happy with the first pattern I chose and had to unravel it and start again from scratch.

A bit more research resulted in the purchase of this lovely pattern by Sirdar – the circular design, rather than the square one.

And so the lengthy process began!

It soon became apparent that I had VASTLY underestimated the time and quantity of yarn that this beast would consume!

After 60 hours over 2 months, I was about two-thirds of the way through the main body of the shawl, and it took both boys to hold it up for me to take a photograph.

I just love how gossamer-fine it is and how you can see right through.

I also had to order another 2 skeins of yarn which took another 2 weeks to arrive before I could continue.

With the body of the shawl finished, I moved on to the pretty bit – the show-stopping lacy border, which was an absolute joy to knit after all those rounds of stockinette.

You can see the pattern beginning to develop here.

Despite being over a week overdue, the baby had now arrived…..but I still hadn’t finished the border. 

It was a baby girl!

Eventually, all the actual knitting was complete and ‘all’ I had to do was to join these two piles of knitting together.

It ended up being several evenings worth of work, starting with pegging the border evenly to the centre section and then sewing ithem together.

Wet blocking was the next step in the process, whereby all 120 points had to be pinned out to their final shape.

I commandeered The Boy’s bedroom and banished them for two days while it dried, pinned to a combination of three towels and the carpet!

When it was completely dry, I took it downstairs to try and photograph it as the contrast against the oak floor showed up the pattern more clearly.

There wasn’t enough spare floor space!

Here’s a close up of the edging after blocking – such lovely lacy detail.

By screwing it up in the middle, I managed to take a photo of the whole shawl – it really is massive!

It looks lovely here, draped over the arm of the sofa.

Off it went in the post and I waited a nerve-wracking few days before hearing that it had reached its destination safely – what a relief!

Very soon, some photos were sent to me of the shawl in use, and I have permission to share them with you on the blog.

Do you want to have the final stats of this mammoth project?

Here goes…….

– 2760 yards of yarn

– 137 hours of knitting

– 161,852 stitches

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat – only next time it will have to be for MY grandchild because it was so hard to part with after all that effort!


Sunday Sevens #105

Extra hour in bed? Who’re they kidding? I woke up at the usual time and couldn’t get back to sleep so decided to get up anyway and get more done, starting with this week’s Sunday Sevens. Visit Nat over at Threads & Bobbins to find out more.

1. The knitted baby shawl is finished and I’ve started to sew it all together which is a loooong job.

2. See the proximity of the goal? I’ve decided that, if I make The Boys clean off the zillion football imprints on the French Windows, they might be more careful about where they kick it.

3. The Boys have been brilliantly behaved this half term, so I treated them to a pub lunch. They played with their Match Attax whilst waiting for their meals. Just look at that expression when faced with defeat!

4. No.1 Son was working from home on Thursday when my sister came down for the day, so we snuck out on our own for an hour and had coffee in Divine Wines. This is the front of the shop and there are several tiny rooms out the back where you can sit to eat and drink. It’s really lovely.

5. Without a doubt, the highlight of my week was Date Night, when Mr H-L surprised me with tickets to see a talk by one of my heroes, Architectural Historian, Dan Cruickshank, in Sturminster Newton. He signed both books and was more than happy to pose for a photograph. What an incredibly charming man, such a gentleman and exactly as he appears on TV.

6. Arghh, what a mess! We decided to bite the bullet and clear out the office which has become a bit of a dumping ground. I say ‘we’, but Mr H-L actually suggested that he mowed the lawn whilst I did the office, thinking it would take us each an hour.

Nine hours later and we weren’t even half way through! Guess what we’ll be doing again all day today?

7. Before you ask, no, I didn’t take this photo, but it serves to illustrate the beautifully haunting call of a Tawny Owl that woke me up at 2am this morning. It was so loud outside our open bedroom window, that I think it must have been perched on the ridge of our stone shed just a few feet away.

Finally, just a quick reminder that midnight tomorrow on 31st October is the last chance to sign up for this year’s Stitching Santa, so if you haven’t sent me your details yet, you’d better be quick!

That’s it for this week folks – hope you all have a great weekend!


Handmade Gift Exchange

As you may know, Tajana and I had a handmade gift exchange recently – I made her a WIP bag for her knitting and a matching ‘phone case, card wallet and coin purse.

P1040451 P1060411

And Tajana made me……..



A beautifully knitted shawl in a totally gorgeous shade of blue and the sweetest crocheted brooch that matches perfectly.


I love them both so much – but that’s not all, she also must have spent ages embroidering this cute sheep and hen. I put it into an embroidery hoop immediately.


It now hangs in my studio to inspire me every day.


Tajana professes to be a novice when it comes to sewing, so imagine my delight when I unwrapped this to see all those tiny, perfect little stitches in such a pretty design.


For a while I wasn’t sure what to do with it but it’s far too nice to just leave as it is, and then I thought ‘lavender bag’ – ideal for my wardrobe and I will be reminded of the lovely Tajana every morning when I get dressed.

So here’s a quick run down of what I did: –

After folding the piece in half, I stitched just outside the outline and cut it out, leaving a small gap in the stitching at the shoulder edge.


It was turned to the right side and lightly filled with dried lavender.


A cut down wire coat hanger was inserted, then the opening stitched together by hand.


It’s already in my wardrobe making all my clothes smell wonderful.



Thanks a million T!


Lace Leaf Shawl

When Claire from Mollie & Claire asked if anyone fancied doing a shawl KAL back in March, I jumped at the chance.

I had long admired each one of her ten versions of the Lace Leaf shawl pattern by Mary Henderson (£3-00 on Ravelry), so this was a great chance to bite the bullet and crack on with it. Does anyone else find that working this way helps you to get focused?

A group was set up on Ravelry so if you want to look at everyone’s progress so far, hop over here and be nosy!

I chose a luxury yarn of 70% mohair/30% silk (just because I could!) which, whilst expensive at around £18-00 per 50g, was affordable because it only needed a single skein to complete the entire shawl on 4.5mm circular needles.

Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe Circus

Designed by the legendary Kaffe Fassett, Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe in the ‘Circus’ colourway promised to knit up like this on the website….

Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe Circus sample

….but after I was some way in actually looked like this!

Lace leaf shawl KAL WIP

To say I was disappointed would be an understatement but, as progress continued, the glorious pink which lured me in the beginning began to creep in.

Shawl progress

I frogged it back to the beginning twice before mastering the pattern – not an easy task with mohair as it welds itself strand to strand immediately.

The pattern is an eight row repeating one and I found it a real pleasure to knit, always impatient to see the next band of colour emerge.

I suppose I knitted for a couple of hours most nights over the course of two weeks, then I wove the ends in and blocked it, leaving it for twenty-four hours before it was bone dry and ready to wear.

And finally – TADAH!


I used a matching shade in plain pink for the scalloped border as I wanted pink to be the main colour.

You get more of a sense of the stripes in this photo of the shawl laid over the back of a sofa.


The stitch pattern is so pretty that I might make another one in a plain colour to show it off more.


Look how sheer and lacy it is – you can see right through it when held up against a window!


Although it is warm and cosy around the neck, it is the lightest thing I have ever worn and weighs in at a mere 50g!


It’s going to be perfect to throw around my shoulders on those balmy Summer evenings when we stay outside until after the sun goes down.


The colours remind me of rhubarb and custard….


Yep – it’s gonna be a favourite, that’s for sure!



Shawl KAL and other WIPs

It’s back to the needles of the non-machine kind for this post!

Claire of Mollie and Claire started a KAL yesterday and, as I’ve long admired her beautiful shawls, I signed up for this one immediately. It’s funny how it takes something like a KAL to spur you into action sometimes, isn’t it?

It also made me use Ravelry properly for the first time, by which I mean interact and upload photos of WIPs etc.rather than just browse and download patterns. Quite the revelation, so thanks Claire!

I chose an utterly divine yarn by Rowan – Kidsilk Haze Stripe (70% Super Kid Silk Mohair, 30% Silk) in a colourway entitled ‘Circus’, pictured thus on the website: –

Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe Circus sample

However, it looks like this knitted up so far……!

Lace leaf shawl KAL WIP

I’m hoping the pink will come out soon as I hadn’t intended to make a yellow and green shawl!

I have to admit that I’m a bit disappointed at the moment at the colours, although the yarn itself is stunning – so soft and extremely light that I just know it’s going to be a delight to wear.

I’m knitting on 4.5mm circular needles to give an open, lacy texture.

Lace leaf shawl KAL close up

I also have a wrap on the go at the moment, crocheted though, not knitted this time.

I’m using Katia Jaipur 100% Cotton (shade 213) which is another self striping laceweight yarn.

Katia Jaipur self striping cotton

Having bought the yarn from Deramores, I was browsing their blog when I spotted a competition that they were running here.

I had already decided to make a rainbow coloured wrap and the self striping nature of the yarn would be perfect for one of the competition themes, so I may enter it for a bit of fun:)

This is progress so far: –

Rainbow shawl WIP

The design is called Alpine Frost by Amy O’Neill Houck and can be found on Ravelry.

It’s a very simple repeated shell stitch which is rather easier to do on auto-pilot than the lace leaf shawl above!

Rainbow shawl WIP stitch pattern

As I mentioned, we are due to become first time Grandparents in September, so I made a third laceweight shawl!

This one is Malabrigo 100% Baby Merino Wool (not Alpaca, as I initially thought) and is super soft in cream – perfect for a baby of either sex.

Lace baby blanket

granny square baby blanket

It was crocheted on a 3.75mm hook, the design being a giant granny square bordered with two rows of scallop pattern – simple, but effective with such fine yarn.

It would make a nice Christening shawl as well I think.

alpaca lace crochet baby blanket

Is anyone else doing a CAL or KAL at the moment?