To say that Shetland inspired me would be a total understatement. When I got back, I had visions of lace and colorwork swimming in my head, even more so than I usually do. For days afterwards I was engaged in swatching with endless color combinations from my wool closet and thinking about how I could translate just a bit of all that Beauty to a little piece of my own reality. While feeling desperate for some traditional lace work, I came across a design I had begun in the Spring but time constraints and other distractions had gotten in the way. It was like it had been waiting for me to come home for it.
Celes is my first attempt at bringing a little piece of Shetland home. The motifs for both the Center panel and knitted-on lace edging are traditional Shetland stitch patterns that I find both arrestingly beautiful. The center panel is a Tree & Diamond pattern, which is funny since trees are basically non-existent in Shetland. The construction, too, is a nod to tradition, although updated slightly for ease of knitting and proper mirroring of vertical motifs.
The design is worked in fingering weight yarn -- last winter on a visit to Bainbridge Island I had fallen head over heels for this lot of Isager Alpaca 2 -- a 50/50 wool alpaca blend with silvery heathers and incredibly drape (it's color 2105). It was screaming to be made into lace fabric. I'm a huge fan of Marianne Isager's designs and yarns (her fingering weight Scottish wool is crisp, clean and wonderful) and knitting with this was a pleasure from start to finish.
The construction of the piece hinges around mirrored directional stitch patterns. In order to create a mirroring of vertical motifs in the center panel, each half is worked separately (starting with a Provisional Cast On at the outer edge) and grafted at the center line using Kitchener Stitch. To finish, a knitted-on lace edging is applied to the entire perimeter in place of any kind of bind off, framing the center panel. If you've never worked a knitted-on edging before, this is a great project for practice.
The stole is a rectangle with approximate blocked dimensions of 74" x 17" -- a generous size for wearing as a luxurious scarf as shown and still wide enough to wear as a shoulder wrap. (Tessa wears it so beautifully, doesn't she?) This type of project is great for seasonal transition from Summer into (and through) Fall. Worked in Alpaca 2, the thing is deceptively warm for its lightness and will definitely also serve as Winter wear! On the day of our photoshoot, we had also been shooting some pieces worked in heavier weight wool yarns. Tessa immediately reported this as being the warmest piece of the afternoon. Alpaca is warm like that -- I personally prefer it diluted with a goodly amount of wool, as here.
The click from season-to-season is upon us, and nothing makes me happier than feeling that crispness in the air announcing Fall's long-awaited arrival. This Fall will be a big one for me, so I hope you'll stay tuned for more as we knit our way into the cooler months.