The time has come to start a project which has been waiting patiently for several years, through my knitting slump and some more-pressing designs — and almost two weeks of delays which have been chronicled here. I have never before run into so many delays and then gone ahead and started the project. Normally, by now, I’d have given up and gone on to one of the two or three others dancing in my head. But thanks to having a blog now, I will press on. Thank goodness for the blog! I’ve wanted to make the shawl for something like eight years, and to set it aside again in favor of a shiny new project would be a stupidity.

Here’s the game plan so far:

Start Neck Band:

CO 5 provisionally. K 42 rows, slipping the first stitch of each row pw, wyif. (K until there are 21 ridges ON EACH SIDE).

Move work so ndl is to your right. Skipping the first selvage stitch, PUK 20 along the side of the strip you just made, one in each of the slipped edge stitches. K the 5 CO sts.  (30 sts)

(See below for list of abbreviations.)


Picture A shows Neck Band border strip completed, ready to pick up along the side. Pencil points to where the sts will be picked up.

Picture B shows the PUK process half-done.


A: Neckband start

A: Pencil points to where the sts will be picked up.






Halfway across the pickups

B: The PUK process half-done.










Picture C shows Pick-ups completed. Pencil points to the CO sts, which will be gotten next.

Picture D shows the Neck Band completed.


C: Pick-ups completed.

C: Pencil points to the CO sts.

D: Neckband completed.

D: Ready to continue down the shawl body!














Place markers:  Sl 1, K 4, PM. K 2, PM, K 16, PM, K 2, PM, K 5.

This row can be broken down as follows:

1st Border: Sl 1, K 4, PM.

1st Side: K 2, PM

Center Panel: K 16, PM,

2nd Side: K 2, PM,

2nd Border: K 5.



Set up Body:

Row 1 (RS) —  Sl 1, K 4, SM (Slip Marker).  EM1, K 2, EM1, SM, K 16, SM, EM1, K 2, EM1, SM, K 5.

This row can also be written as follows:

Sl 1, K 1st Border, SM.

EM1, K 1st Side to next marker, EM1, SM.

K Center Panel.

SM, EM1, K 2nd Side to next marker, EM1.

SM, K 2nd Border.  (34 sts)

This kind of wording will be useful later, as the various parts grow.



Row 2 — Sl 1, K 4, SM. Work (K2,P2) across to 2nd Border. SM, K 5.

In other words: Work 1st Border, work (K2,P2) across to 2nd Border, work 2nd Border, slipping markers as you come to them.



Row 3 —

Work 1st Border, SM.

EM1, K 1st Side to next marker, EM1, SM.

K Center Panel.

SM, EM1, K 2nd Side to next marker, EM1.

SM, work 2nd Border.  (38 sts)



Row 4 — Work 1st Border, work (K2,P2) across to 2nd Border, work 2nd Border, slipping markers as you come to them.



Body Pattern:

Row 5 —

Work 1st Border, SM.

EM1, K 1st Side to next marker, EM1, SM.

K Center Panel.

SM, EM1, K 2nd Side to next marker, EM1.

SM, work 2nd Border.

(4 sts increased)



Row 6 — Work 1st Border, work (K2,P2) across to 2nd Border, work 2nd Border, slipping markers as you come to them.



Row 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14  —  Repeat Rows 5 and 6.  (58 sts)



Next up: shoulder shaping!



E: Ready to start Row 15

E: Ready to start Row 15




My Abbreviations:

K — knit

P — purl

CO — cast on

PUK — pick up and knit

PM — place marker

SM — slip marker

EM1 — English Make-one or Elizabeth’s Make-one — Make an increase stitch by forming a backwards loop with the yarn and placing this on the RN.  This does not make a hole, the way a YO (yarn-over) does, and works especially well with garter stitch, which is why Elizabeth Zimmermann preferred it for many things. According to Maggie Righetti, it is called English Make-one; since it is favored by EZ, I like to think that the E in my abbreviation can also stand for Elizabeth.

ndl — needle

RN — right needle

LN — left needle

EZ — Elizabeth Zimmermann

patt — pattern

inc — increase

dec — decrease

st — stitch

pw — purlwise

wyif — with yarn in front


Also, my designations 1st Border, 2nd Border and 1st Side, 2nd Side refer to these sections of the shawl as you come to them in the row you are working, and so will change from RS to WS.









Rail Yard Stitch Pattern

I realized that I should have mentioned yesterday the name of the stitch pattern I’m using from BGW’s book, so I tried to look it up and discovered that I have unvented* a stitch pattern. I’m sure this one exists, but I can’t find it in the book, so for now, it’s new.

The pattern in BGW’s Treasury is Sand Stitch, which is based on K1, P1 Seed Stitch, but with the WS rows done in K only. Because Jackie E-S’s Dolly shawl called for the shoulder shaping to be done on RS rows, I reversed the stitch pattern, so the K rows are RS, and all increases are done there, and the Seed Stitch patterning is done on the WS rows.

However, before I settled on this pattern, I had looked at a lot of others, some of which had Moss Stitch patterning (K2, P2). So, when I finally decided that Sand Stitch was the pattern I would use, I inadvertently combined these, and ended up doing Moss Stitch patterning on the WS.

Since it is temporarily a new stitch pattern, I will name it. Eventually, I will discover its original name, but for now it is, um, Rail Yard Stitch?

… Maybe just Rail Stitch.


Rail Stitch  (mult. of 4)

Row 1 (RS): Knit.

Row 2: *K2,P2. Rep from *.

Row 3: Knit.

Row 4: *P2,K2. Rep from *.

Repeat these 4 rows.


* “Unvented” is a term devised by Elizabeth Zimmermann (in Knitting Without Tears?). Its premise lies in the knowledge that when we knitters “invent” something that is new to us — a technique, pattern, etc. — we are probably creating something which has been invented before. To EZ, it seemed like hubris to claim to have invented something, as if it was unique in the long history of knitting, when it had possibly been invented many times before, by many different knitters in many different places.


On Needles and Stitch Pattern

I am not crazy about garter stitch (sorry, EZ!) because it is too likely to stretch out of shape. And I am afraid that when the garter stitch stretches under its own weight, making holes between the stitches, it will let out the heat. Since I want this shawl to be warm, I am picturing it in a relatively solid pattern which, while still draping as a shawl should, won’t be too loose. So, I was thinking a nice Fabric Stitch or Linen Stitch would give a solid, woven-looking fabric. Then I realized that it probably wouldn’t have enough drape for a shawl.  So I got out the stitch books, and swatched a little, and came up with one from BGW’s Treasury* which I think will work. On the right side, it looks a lot like garter stitch. And on the wrong side, it looks like a different right-side pattern, so I never have to worry about fussing with how I put the shawl on — either side will look all right.

The needle size recommended on the ball band is US6. I am having trouble deciding between a US6 and US8 for this project. On the one hand, I want the fabric to be solid and warm, but on the other, it can’t be so firm that it doesn’t drape properly. I know, that’s what swatches are for. Except that swatches lie. So I will just make a guess and see how it goes. Excuse me a moment…

[Soft background music playing…]

Decision made. I just went and examined my needle supply. I have two sets of 60” circulars in size US7. All my 6s and 8s are in use in other projects, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have any of those longer than 29” anyway. So, US7 it will be.


* Barbara G. Walker, A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Schoolhouse Press, 1998

Edit: If you want a link to this book, that would be here. Scroll down the page a bit (their website is a little low-tech). This book is the blue one.


1st Project: The Rail Yard Shawl

I want a real shawl. I love delicate, lacy things, but in the winter (or in refrigerator-cold air conditioning in the summer) I want a thick, warm, working shawl. And I want it to stay on, without fussing and tugging. Therefore, I want a Faroese shawl. And I need to make it from the top down, because I have no idea whether I have enough yarn.

To complicate matters, I have no instructions handy. I own Myrna Stahman’s book on constructing Faroese-shaped shawls from the neck down, but I’ve had to pack it away in a box with my other knitting books while I do some renovations. So, I thought I’d gather some info online, and then wing it. There isn’t a lot of info available, but enough. Joan Schrouder’s comments on the Ravelry forums have been especially helpful.

The only Faroese-style shawl I’ve ever made was Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer’s Dolly Faroese Shawl ( This is a delightful little project, intended to help you learn the ropes of Faroese shaping in a quick doll-size project. I highly recommend it to anyone contemplating making a full-size shawl. It gave me a basis of understanding what I’m trying to accomplish, and combining this with the information I gathered from Ravelry and other places on the internet, I hope to be able to create an approximation of a Faroese shawl. Now to decide on yarn and needles.

Dolly Shawl by Jackie E-S