Clickable RSS feed subscription icon. Clickable Instagram icon. Clickable Flickr icon. Clickable Bloglovin icon. Clickable Pinterest icon.


54 The Shetland shawl that wasn't

Montag of images of the yarn and books mentioned in the blog post.

Knitting. Okay, so the other day, when I said I'd cast on a Shetland Triangle .. I didn't get very far. In fact I got just far enough to fall out majorly with the yarn I'd chosen. I prefer yarns that can be tugged gently without breaking ... this isn't that yarn! Bottom line, it's spun from fibres with a short staple length - merino lambswool and cotton - hence its tensile strength is on the low side. So, not the optimum yarn for lace ... ever tried knitting a nup* without tugging? But all I did was cast on - kinda' necessary, whatever I'm making - and the darn stuff broke twice! Truly, I'm loath to diss something I know others love, but Holst Garn's 'Coast' clearly needs careful handling!

Nature. Also rather fragile are the dried hydrangea heads I've been admiring all winter. This one's tucked into a tiny old perfume bottle, along with a cluster or two of alder cones. It's lost all its colour now and is starting to crumble, and I wanted to photograph it before it disintegrated any further. To archive its fading beauty ... Sabi, 'the bloom of time' **. Of course the fact that I've reduced it to pixels rather undermines the exercise, I need an actual print.

Reading. Dear Sweet Home, which is at first glance a Japanese book about storage solutions - wooden boxes, linen bags, glass jars - but which, to borrow from Leonard Koren, is also about 'materiality, pared down to essence, with the poetry intact' ... Wabi-sabi again, and inspiration for my studio, which is almost ready for the big reveal ! When I get a moment I'll scan some of the page spreads for you. And Ron McMillan's Between Weathers: Travels in 21st Century Shetland, which I mentioned previously. It ties in with another Japanese aesthetic concept, Ma, a consciousness of place.

And that's me, disappointed by yarn, delighted by decay, and distracted by Japanese aesthetics. What's happening with you just now? Do tell!

Linking with Lou's Nature in the Home, and Ginny's Yarn Along.

✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤

* A traditional textural element of Estonian Lace knitting, akin to an elongated bobble.

** As in the Japanese Wabi-sabi.


  1. Dear Annie,
    Sorry about the shawl..I know that I would never be able to pull off something so lovely, no matter the yarn.
    I love all of the images above and I am going to check out the books you mentioned.
    I have some dried hydrangeas as well...and they are definitely near the side of decay...Just washed my face tonight in preparation for bed time...same reaction... definitely near the side of decay. Sending love your way, E.

  2. In the south of Sweden we are just having a few tentative summer-like days. It feels odd, it was only a week ago that I wore woolly mittens when cycling to work. So I am feeling a bit off-season, but enjoying it immensely. I am also just about ready to pick up my knitting again, which had a rather abrupt stop due to an unfortunate incident with a sharp kitchen knife and my finger. No lace yet, though - and with a sturdy yarn that can stand beeing tugged. I totally understand your feelings vis-a-vis the troublesome shawl yarn.

  3. I'm knitting with Holst Coast at the moment but haven't experienced yarn breakage... but I'm not knitting nups. I hope you find something to make with your beautiful blue yarn, I'm knitting a cardi called 'Slow Line' by Veera Valimaki. It has enough shaping to make it an interesting knit and enough plain knitting to show off the lovely drape of the yarn. xx

  4. Hi Annie. As i am unable to get to Stash for a few weeks (commitments to moving Mum) it's lovely to keep in touch with folk via the blog world and see what people are up to. My Wonderwool purchases are on hold for the moment but I'm looking forward to using my wild drum carder for the first time and my nepps in felting soon. Love the faded hydrangea.

  5. I am firmly of the opinion that the yarn breaking was the Great Knitting Goddess's way of telling you that nups were an abomination and should not be included in anything, ;-). Have you considered this theory?

    (Nups = knitting equivalent of pimples)

  6. Sorry to hear about your Shetland shawl that isn't - so disappointing when a yarn one has high hopes of fails to meet expectations. Hope you find another destiny for it! I found your reflection on the hydrangea head and the links to wabi-sabi absolutely fascinating - it's a profoundly interesting and liberating idea that beauty is located in places and contexts so different from where society normally assumes it to be. It's one of the things that I particularly love about your blog, Annie that you often set such interesting hares running in my head! Thank you for making such a great start to my day today. E x

  7. Dear Annie
    Can't wait to see your studio!
    and your needles are so beautiful ...
    Barbara x

  8. a Japanese book about storage solutions? fanning myself a little lest I overheat with excitement! Noone, NOONE does storage like the Japanese, I've been back twice to make sure!
    Beautiful beautiful photos. Thank you so much for taking so much time to make these lovely still lifes.

  9. That yarn would drive me insane, however lovely. In such cases I think you need a willing person to knit it up for you to enjoy! if only!!

    I too love decay in nature Annie, though of course I love freshness too. There is something fascinating and beautiful in the soft falling apart of things. x

  10. Wool breakage is right up there with wool splittage in the list of things that dement me.

    But it is awfully pretty ...

  11. Aren't hydrangea heads so beautiful, I love how their colours change, I've tried unsuccessfully to dry them. I've got two bushes in the garden which are just starting to get established, it's taken a few years, I'm hoping for a great display this year! :) x

  12. Oh what a shame! I'm sitting with three skeins of horrifically expensive (even on sale) Rowan tweed, that did the same. Trying to combine it now with a thick (ultra chunky) cotton, hope that will work.

  13. What a pity about your shawl. It's so frustrating when the yarn doesn't want to work with you, isn't it?

    I'm currently knitting the Haruni Shawl out of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace. I've just got another 2 rows to complete Chart A before starting the next section of patterning, Chart B.

    I'm quite pleased with my progress so far. The rows are going to get even longer now due to the increases. I'm hoping to get a row or two done during quiet moments during the day.

  14. Wabi-sabi... Interesting reading...

  15. I knit with cashmere once and would never again because of how fragile it was. I am brutal with yarn it seems. Could have been the manufacturer but I think it was me ;)

  16. Sorry that shawl didn't work out. Annoying when the yarn breaks or isn't as nice as you thought it would be to work with.

    Good that you have recorded your faded bloom.

    Your books sound interesting and can't wait for you studio reveal.

    P x

  17. Can't wait to find that book!!! One of my favorite little 'house' books is Simply Imperfect: revisiting the wabi-sabi house. That was my first introduction to the philosophy....gave mine a name.

    bummer about the yarn...never had a yarn break on the cast on before. hope something else in the stash works for the need a shetland shawl for Shetland!!

  18. That's so disappointing about the yarn. I wonder if you should wait and buy the yarn for the Shetland shawl in Shetland, then knit it after the trip. Then it would truly be a Shetland shawl!

  19. How annoying to have purchased a yarn which breaks. I hope you can get a refund.
    Waiting with great excitement to see your studio reveal.
    Anne xx

  20. No fun when the anticipated project doesn't even get off the ground :( Sorry to hear the yarn is a bust for your shawl ... at least you decided to stop before you got too far into it and would find it even more frustrating. Hope you have better luck with another choice. Wendy

  21. I find silk yarns can act the same way, you are knitting along loving the feel of the yarn in your hands and then poof,it falls apart.
    hugs to you,

  22. Such a shame about the yarn, hopefully it will be better for another project as it's such a pretty shade.... Sarah x

  23. What's been happening with me? Due to the house planning, I am too distracted to knit. Due to the very cold north wind that is chilling my hands to numbness, I can go to the greenhouse, and buy plants that I have to bring into the house at night for the next two weeks. Due to the sunshine, I can hang my laundry on the line outside!

  24. Such beautiful blues and browns in your photographs. I've mainly been crocheting a snake and want it finished NOW as there are so many other crafty things I am itching to do. xx

  25. i always seem to miss the moment with hydrangeas... leave it too long to pick them and then the rain ruins the flowers. Yours have kept beautifully. This year, maybe less rain?

  26. I've had a fair few run-ins with renegade yarn myself..........hope you find something just as beautiful but much better behaved to knit your shawl with.
    Kim xx

  27. Well apart from the disappointment with yarn, it all sounds good to me. Sometimes it really is the small things that make life bearable. Beautifully delicate flowerheads - you've captured their ephemeral nature perfectly. xx

  28. Annie I popped onto my facebook account last weekend and saw that you had cast on this shawl and were settling down to Arne Dahl which I enjoy too by the way. I was rather impressed at the ideal of you knitting a shawl whilst reading sub-titles. I can only do stocking stitch when watching such telly :o) Sorry about the yarn disappointment, hope you find a solution soon. I am currently attempting to knit an eco-cotton cardigan for the summer...we'll see xox Penny

  29. Your images are so lovely- I love the way you have linked the colours between the pictures. What a shame your shetland shawl was not to be. The Japanese book looks very interesting I will look forward to the pictures from it and also the revealing of your studio.
    Sarah x

  30. The clarity of your photos are awesome. I would be frustrated with a yarn that did that. Good for you on being real about it all.

  31. Such a shame about your yarn. The colour looks beautiful! The book sounds interesting. I have taken lots of photo's today with a new 100mm lens I bought two weeks ago and spent a few hours in the garden. Cheer bliss :-)!

    Happy weekend!

    Madelief x

  32. I would be disappointed with that yarn too Annie! I wonder how the finished article would bear up if it can't stand being knitted up. I am forever snagging my clothes on thing that poke out and would find it frustrating to the max if the yarn broke on the tiniest a jagged fingernail for instance.

  33. How unfortunate for your project, but how perfect for your stunning photo collage :)

    Janine xo

  34. Gone back to patchwork at present with the odd sock because it's wintery and I have a few overdarned socks in the collection. I hate weak yarn. Especially in items that will see a lot of use. That and excessive pilling are my pet peeves.

    viv in nz

  35. Hi Annie,

    What a pity about the yarn! I love your beautiful wooden needles though.

    I am currently disappointed I still haven't finished the final sleeve of the jumper I'm making my boy, delighted about the arrival of our friends from Sydney tonight and distracted from cleaning the house by the most glorious Autumn day here.

    Have a lovely weekend - weekends begin Friday morning for you too, don't they? :-)

    Mel x

  36. What a shame about the yarn, but thanks for the heads up so I don't waste any of my money ;) ;)
    As you know I've just finished a shawl, I do have something else on the needles but I'm raring to go with something else. However, I don't have any suitable yarn (err-hum) and never have the right sized needles either, come to think of it. Same old, same old.
    Have a happy weekend xx

  37. Yarn that breaks is so annoying, but I need to look out for that book on storage suggestions - sounds interesting.
    Here this week I'm: disappointed with the weather, delighted to be going on holiday tomorrow , and distracted by 2 poorly pups & 1 poorly hubby!
    Happy Friday,

  38. The needles are lovely - as is the hydrangea. I like the sound of the book, and will keep an eye open for it.

    As for the yarn; I am sorry you are disappointed and will bear it in mind when I finally get to sit down with my how-to-knit book.

  39. There's a lot about the Japanese that I find increasingly intriguing. I've seen some beautiful sewing and craft books, in Japanese but which I am tempted to buy because the images are so compelling and appealing. I admire so much about their culture.

    I answered your question on my blog about boot sales. I kept thinking of more things and going back to add them on so it's a little bitty. :)

  40. Frustrating fact but beautifully told! Hope you find something else that fits the Shetland theme but that holds together a little better - I'm sure you will. And the hydrangeas are so ethereal...definitely the time to capture them.
    I shall look with interest at the link you provided. I had to look up what wabi-sabi meant and I like the concept very much, though I'm sure my interpretation of it results in a very different effect to the Japanese one! I think I should probably stick with entropy....:-)

    I'm enjoying time with my mum, who is visiting this week (she's having a lie-in just now, which is why I have a moment to comment!) - we're spending time sitting in my garden, chatting, listening to birds, doing crosswords and playing scrabble with the children. Lovely.

  41. How frustrating, hope it can become wonderful again through something else :) xx

  42. I agree with kristie, knitting with a sense of place?

  43. Annie, each topic in your post interests me. This always seems to happen to me when I visit here!

    I've had my own yarn disappointments, but usually have been able to find another use for that particular yarn. Sometimes I'll combine a weak with a stronger fibre and knit loosely.

    Hydrangea blossoms are so lovely fresh, or dried. The Japanese storage book looks quite intriguing.

    I've just gotten started on another fair isle scarf, using brilliant jewel tones...quite a contrast from the neutral tones in the scarf I've recently finished.

    Reading lots of interesting articles in The New Yorker Magazine, and continuing a novel by Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being. You might also enjoy this book. I've met Ruth and she's a woman of many talents.

    Weather's been wet here, but seems dry today on my day off. I'll be working this weekend, and rain might resume. Ah well. xo

  44. Oh dear, it's sad to fall out of love with a yarn, but we can't put in all that work for something that won't last.

    As for me, I seem to have spent much of this week hare-watching. :-)

  45. For some reason wabi-sabi always sounds like a rather spicy condiment to me. :)

    Better to find the yarn's weakness at the beginning than in the middle of a project. It does look pretty though, and I like the way the three photos coordinate so well.

    What's happening with me is riding. I feel as though I'm always either riding or recovering from a ride or planning the next ride. (Not really so, but it does seem to expend a lot of energy, leaving not much over for creativity.) I will be glad when the big June ride is over and I can again be a slacker. :)

    Looking forward to that studio reveal....

  46. Hi Annie,

    Oh dear how annoying for you and the colour is so lovely. The book sounds interesting and I love the old vintage look to your dried hydrangeas..
    Hope you have a lovely weekend


  47. Hydrangas are lovlier like this I think! I have had some dried blooms that have lasted a long while, given gentle handling and turning a blind eye on the dust. Btw thanks so much for sharing 'dust if you must'.... it is the subject of this weeks Saturday Sketch! Great inspiration! x

  48. Funnily enough I was looking at yarns to make a shawl that I am hankering after, and, at the introduction to one wool, it said that it breaks easily and they will not receive returns if that's the reason! Then I read your post....lesson learned...I think. I do hope you find the yarn that behaves as you wold like it to! Joan

  49. Nothing is more frustrating than starting a project and having to abandon it. On the hydrangea topic, isn't it brilliant how just as the old flowers are about to become dust, new buds are forming this year's blossom. I don't know much about Japanese culture, but that has to be some kind of gardening Zen.

  50. That is a nuisance about the yarn. I am distracted by the huge pile of laundry and looming clouds to match and delighted by the funny Mother's Day offerings I got this morning.

  51. Sorry to hear about the yarn. It's annoying when things like that happen. I hope you can find a pretty replacement and make that shawl anyway :-)

  52. Ugh, what a stinker when that happens with beautiful yarn. I had a similar experience with some lace yarn.
    The Dear Sweet Home books sound perfect. I may need to pick that up.
    Have a lovely day Annie!

  53. Gosh those three pictures look WONDERFUL arranged together. I am in visual heaven. Boo to tricky yarn but yay to savouring every bit of your hydrangea, one of my favourite plants. x

  54. Shame about that yarn Annie, it's such a beautiful colour


Comments are the best bit! And I always read them, every one, so do please say hello! Use Google, WordPress, TypePad or any OpenID (read how here) to join the conversation . Or email me, I'll always reply.

This site uses cookies to improve performance and delivery. Learn more and/or opt out via the Cookies page.
about contact more home
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...