Last I updated you on my knitting progress, my wrist was giving me trouble and preventing me from knitting. Well, it’s still giving me trouble, but not enough to stop me knitting. I’ve finally finished my Hansel Half Hap, a pattern by Gudrun Johnstone.
I knit it in a kit from Ysolda’s shop, in the yarn specified by the pattern – Jamieson & Smith Jumper Weight. The colours are lovely, and it’s so nice to have the hard work of choosing yarn and colourway taken out of your hands, leaving just the fun part of knitting!
Overall, this was a good knit, though I did have some difficulties getting gauge. The pattern calls for a gauge of 17 sts and 34 rows = 4″ on 5mm needles. 5mm needles are fairly large for 4ply/fingering weight yarn, but I did as was told and swatched up on 5mm needles…then 4.5mm….4mm…then finally down to 3mm needles before I achieved the correct gauge. I know gauge is more important than needle size, but at this point I was feeling like the sloppiest knitter in the world.
Lots of people love knitting at tiny gauges*, but the 3mm needles really cramped my hands. After all that hard work to get gauge, I was frustrated to find my shawl was no where near the dimensions stated (short by a good 9″ height and width I reckon).
It irked me so much that I reblocked it** in fragrance-free conditioner (Shetland yarn is scratchy, friends). With some very forceful stretching I managed to almost get the measurements on the schematic. It’s still 1-2″ small either way, and the conditioner did nothing to alleviate the scratchiness, but it’s better than it was before. (The curves in the straight edge would not block out.)
Perhaps it was a matter of not having the right tools for blocking – I know haps are traditionally stretched out when wet. But there was nothing in the instructions to indicate this pattern needed stretching, bar a note about paying attention to the points in blocking.
I also had some difficulty following the pattern instructions. Maybe this is down to cognitive function, but I could not get in the swing of things and had to rip back the lace portion a few times til I totally got it (& I’ve absolutely knit this type of lace before). Again, this is all likely down to my own experience but some patterns are so well written they make you feel like everything is entirely intuitive.
Finally, the cast off as written was far too tight for the fabric of the shawl to stretch to its full extent – in fact, it gathered the fabric along the edge. I undid it and reknit with this simple modification: k2, *k2togtbl, k1*, repeat between * until all sts cast off.
These are really all minor quibbles, largely entirely personal – maybe I didn’t get gauge in every stitch pattern, need a hap blocking frame, and cognitive difficulties make reading patterns extremely challenging. It’s a gorgeous pattern, especially when made up in the colours called for. Next time I knit a shawl, I’d probably go for a softer yarn and one that I know I can get comparable gauge in.
Pattern: Hansel Half Hap by Gudrun Johnstone (my Ravelry notes)
Pattern details: “This a half sized version of my Hansel pattern-a traditional Shetland Hap shawl. When you purchase this pattern you will also receive the pattern for the full sized shawl (as a separate pdf). A ‘Hansel’ is a gift to mark a special occasion, such as the birth of a baby.”
Yarn: Jamieson & Smith 2 Ply Jumper Weight in 202 (MC), 1284 (CC1), 121 (CC2), 27 (CC3), FC7MIX (CC4).
Mods: Different cast off: k2, *k2togtbl, k1*, repeat between * until all sts cast off.
*They would be wrong.
**This is a huge deal. I hate blocking, and rarely wash my knits for this reason. But I wanted that shawl to be long enough to reach my ass, dammit.