Pre-KAL information

I imagine you all have your yarn at this point, have downloaded your pattern and got your needles.  Here’s a bit of information about the times it will take. 

Blackthorn we are knitting to pattern over 8 weeks!  With the Lace Leaf shal there are going to be three different sizes options:

- The regular, which is the pattern as written, over 5 weeks.  Knitted on sock weight/ 4ply upwards you will get a nice size shawlette.

- The medium, which adds 3 extra repeats to the pattern, over 8 weeks.  You should choose this option if you have decided to knit with laceweight, or if you like your shawls a bit larger.

- The Large, which adds 7 extra repeats to the pattern, over 8 weeks.  This one is for folks who want a BIG cosy shawl.  I’d do this with at least a DK but preferably an Aran weight.

Based on my own knitting style, which is slow and fairly clunky (yes really! I am just persistent!) the knitting commitment is on average two hours a week for the regular and medium and two and a half hours for Blackthorn and the large.  However it might take you a bit longer while you are getting used to the pattern or quicker if you are a speedy knitter.  I’ve worked out sensible stopping points so some weeks might take more time, some might take less.

And do you know, if it takes you longer, that’s fine too!

Don’t forget to join our Ravelry group here, so we can all see everyone’s progress! 


I’ve been preparing for the lace leaf KAL by test knitting a version of the lace leaf shawl that my sister chose the yarn for, checking the timings and so on.  This is it here: 

Apart from knitting I have recently acquired an italic pen and have been practising my cursive script with a view to generally improving my handwriting.  When I left school I had really lovely handwriting but over the intervening 25 (25!!!!!!) years it has deteriorated.  It still looks quite nice but its a scrawl.  So I am practising proper cursive script with a view to reintegrating it back into my regular handwriting.  

I struggle with my ‘r’s – I seem to do about 5 different versions…  And here is my practice! Luckily a lot of what I was taught is coming back to me, but I am struggling with slowing down, not gripping the pen too hard and concentrating….

We shall see – but I’m enjoying it and that’s what matters. Right, back to my test knit!

Lace Leaf KAL Ravelry group

Hi everyone! Sarah is still doing the banner (her technical skills are greater than mine!) but to let you know that the Ravelry group is set up! Please join it here.

Starting to get excited now.  This is my first time running an actual KAL – it is slightly different to the Finish It Challenge of last summer – so bear with me if there are any mistakes!  Hopefully there won’t be too many!

I’ve been spending some time working timings and so on, which has involved me doing a bit of test knitting! 

Posted in KAL

Yarn for shawls

Yesterday my sister had asked if I would go with her to our LYS and help her pick out a pattern and some yarn to make something for my niece.  As Gayle is just getting back in to knitting after doing a degree part time for the last six years (while holding down a full time job and having two kids, AND it looks like she’s getting a first! YAY!) I’d suggested that first off she should choose a reasonably priced yarn that felt nice and a pattern from the same range – just for tension and outcome purposes.  She had had a good look on Ravelry and found something she liked, but as it was knit using an American brand I didn’t know, I wasn’t keen to supervise substituting. In my mind I had thought Sirdar would be a good choice, as their pattern range is fantastic and in general incredibly well edited. And so it proved.  She picked some Sirdar crofter and this pattern, which I think is just adorable.  And something my niece will wear next winter. 

As Jess loves her lace shawl I had said that as we were going to Marmalade she could choose some yarn for me to make her another one. I freely admit that I steered her away from the cheaper yarns and pointed out the most expensive yarns as a) I don’t want to knit with acrylic and b) I am educating her yarn palatte… :) I reckon in future years when she’s a poor student and hopefully knitting that her auntie can send her yarn parcels.  Yes, we are talking wishful thinking here…!

In the end she picked Noro Sekku: 

And I suggested the Kidsilk Haze to strand with it! 

While we were doing this Gayle said that she’d really like another shawl and that the green one I made her was so useful for work….  Of course, I’m a sucker for anyone who wants something I’ve made and immediately said ‘let’s pick out some yarn.  So we settled on Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal in this glorious lavender and the MOST gorgeous pinky-neutral Kidsilk Haze to strand with it. 

So, I have four shawls to knit in April!  I won’t be doing anything else! 

Knitting Bee

Today my sister, nephew and niece and I had lunch with our friends Sam and Josh to celebrate Sam’s birthday.  Lunch that had cake and subsequently involved a trip to the yarn store and then a number of hours of knitting. Basically my perfect day. (And I discovered the most divine Mary Berry butternut squash soup recipe which I made for lunch.)

Starting with the piece de resistance, this was the cake Josh made!  It’s basically a crispy cake – the white layer is made with melted marshmallows and the chocolate with melted Mars bars! Sadly I couldn’t eat it but I am assured it was delicious! 

My niece let me take some photos of her wearing a tunic I knitted for her last year: 

As I have said before, a young woman who appreciates knitwear as much as she does deserved to be made stuff! 

Then this evening while we sat and knitted I tried out my panorama function on my phone.  We are all sitting in a 12x12foot room and I managed to get us all in! 

From left to right: Josh was knitting a square; Gayle was casting on a cowl neck tunic dress for Jess in Sirdar Crofter; Sam was knitting Raili’s Shawl (starting with the lace at the bottom he had 350 stitches on his needles) in the most glorious tomato red, and Jess had finished knitting a cerise pink sparkly hat for an Innocent smoothie bottle and was making a green pompom.  I was knitting on my sample lace leaf shawl for the KAL.

Lace Leaf KAL

Well, folks, we have ourselves a KAL!

We’ll be casting on on Wednesday April 1st with time to really get stuck into it over Easter. 

There is a choice of two patterns: Either Lace Leaf Shawl  or Blackthorn both by Mary Henderson.  Both are available on Ravelry.  Lace Leaf shawl is £3 and Blackthorn is £4. You’ll need to download this by April 1st. 

This is going to be a seriously unstressful KAL.  There will be suggested targets but if they aren’t met, no-one will mind! We will have a Ravelry group to show our WIPS and FOs. Sarah Inskeep is going to be moderating this group with me and co-running the KAL. More on that next week.

We’ll keep the KAL going for two months (as some folks will be joining later in April 😉) but I reckon most people will finish it in a month – 6 weeks. 

I’ll post a blog and on Ravelry once a week (on a Wednesday) giving a suggested (and realistic!) target. But you can go faster or slower as you prefer! 

At the end of our KAL there will be a prize! More on that another time! 

Yarn &  Needles. The yarn you use is entirely up to you. This pattern looks great in lots of different weights and types of yarn. Pick one that you’d like to wear (for those that need some help, I’m making recommendations below!) Just go up a size or a couple of sizes than the recommended needles. So, I would knit laceweight on 4mm, sock yarn on 4.5mm, DM on 5mm, Aran weight on 6.5mm. However use what feels and looks right for you. If you want to talk this through send me an email to mollieandclaire at (obviously use an @ instead of the at!) and I’ll get back to you. 

The size you make will depend on the amount of yarn you buy. I’m tall and large so I like BIG shawls. 

Lace Leaf Shawl is written for one skein of sock yarn but you can add extra rows before the border. 

Blackthorn is written for 660metres. 

Yarn suggestions

  • Lace weight – try Rowan fine lace or Juniper Farm lace. 
  • 4ply/ sock weight – any sock yarn really!  A semi solid works really well. For UK residents try The Knitting Goddess/ Eden Cottage Yarns/ I Knit Or Dye London (these are yarns I have used, other suppliers are of course available!). For a striped version Noro Taiyo 4ply. 
  • DK – for a plain shawl, consider holding Rowan fine lace or Juniper Farm lace with a matching shade of Rowan Kidsilk Haze or Debbie Bliss Angel.  For a striped version, you could consider Noro Janome, Shiro and Silk Garden Lite. Or a sock yarn stranded with Kidsilk Haze….
  • Bigger weights: I’ve made one in a silk & cotton Noro Aran weight which worked well. A DK stranded with Kidsilk Haze/Debbie Bliss Angel woud be an Aran/ Chunky weight. Chunky – Rowan Cocoon would make a super snuggly shawl. 

    I’m going to make Blackthorn in Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal Tweed (a 4ply) in gold and will showcase Lace Leaf in Sirdar Wool Rich Aran in grey and a double stranded cerise pink one using Knitting Goddess cerise mohair lace and Deeply Wicked from in the colour way Pinky for different examples. These balls here! 


    I prefer to knit on straights so I will be using 4mm Knit Pro Symphonie cubics (straights) with the Fine Donegal to start with and will transfer to Knit Pro circulars (either Symphonie or Karbonz depending on my mood and availability). The 4mm will create a relatively dense fabric. I am using 6.5mm Brittany Birch needles for the Sirdar Aran which will create a very open fabric.  I don’t have any 6.5mm circulars so that could be interesting… Finally I will swatch to see how the fabric comes out and use use either 4.5mm Knit Pro Cubics in metal (borrowed from my friend Sam) or 5mm Knit Pro Symphonie with the pink.  Both are straights and I will transfer to my Karbonz circulars as I need to.

    Sarah is going to knit the Lace Leaf shawl in ‘Row of Tulips’ from Expression Fiber Arts, a 50% merino, 50% silk blend.  She’s going to use 4 or 4.5mm needles, depending on which fabric she likes best from testing. And those needles will be Knit Picks Options interchangeable circulars. Check out this yarn! 


    That’s all for today.  I’ll post again next week with final details!