Designing a Hap Shawl Part Two

I got the yarn dyed and dried over the weekend.  I cast on this morning.

Provisional cast on of 78 stitches.  Everything went smoothly and now I’ve knit 10 rows out of 156.  I decided to measure things.  10 rows still equals 1 inch.  That’s good.  But 78 stitches measures 21.5 inches, not the 18.5 that I estimated.

Now what do I do?  All of my calculations are based upon 78 stitches.  But it now appears that my center “square” will measure 21.5 X 15.6 inches – far from square.  Could blocking really help that out?  Does it have to be square?  Perhaps the border/edging will help things look more square.

The border will be 78 stitches per side.  So the inside of it has to be square.  It’s wavy so as it pulls on the center, the edges of the center would never look straight.  In theory, then the border would make the center look/be more square.  It’s a 6 inch difference between sides so I’m not sure how that theory would hold up in practice.

I guess that the only thing to do it to try it.  As long as I don’t cut any yarn, I can unravel and try again without any yarn loss.

Swatches lie.

Designing a Hap Style Shawl

I mentioned in my TdF Final post that I wanted to make a Hap style shawl out of some of my handspun but couldn’t find a pattern that I liked so I decided to design my own.

I’m going to try to document my process.  This is the first time I’m designing a shawl.

I want a garter stitch center square.  Here was the first problem in finding a pattern.  Nearly all of them knit the center square on the diagonal – in essence,  a diamond,  not a square.  I don’t like knitting on the diagonal.  I just want a simple no increase/decrease square.

Next, I want to use The Old Shale pattern for the border.  That’s easy enough.  I want to use the basic 18 stitch variation.  After a bit of searching, I discovered that to go around a corner you simply add a few more stitches, 24 or 30 stitches total.  I’ll go with 24.

Ok so I need to make a square that’s a multiple of 18 st plus 24 (half of 2 corners).  I also need to be mindful of the fact that I have 642 yards of yarn to do the who shawl with.  I now need to know two things – how long is 18 stitches in garter and how much yarn does that use.  Time to swatch.


I chose a size 6 needle, both because it was handy and because my yarn varies a bit in thickness.  My swatch is 36 stitches and 15 rows. All measurements are unblocked.

  • 18 st in garter = 4.25 inches and 14 inches of yarn used
  • 15 rows in garter = 1.5 inches
  • 24 st in garter = 5.7 inches and 19 inches of yarn used.

Now to decide what size I want the square to be.  I checked out a pattern in the same weight but with one of those diagonal squares and it said the whole shawl measured 40 X 40 inches.  That seems like a good size.  Estimating from the picture, it seems like the border/edging is about half the size of the center.  Two borders (one on either side) means that the center must be about 20 inches.  The pattern didn’t say but I’d guess the measurements were after blocking so I can go a bit smaller than 20 inches.

24 stitches for the corners plus three 18 stitch repeats is about 18.5 inches

  • 5.7+4.25+4.25+4.25=18.45 inches.

That’s 78 stitches.

This is the tricky part.  I’ll have to pick up stitches on the sides and I’ll want to pick up 78 stitches to make all 4 sides the same. 78 rows, picking up a stitch for every row is only 7.8 inches.  That’s no good.  How about picking up a stitch for every 2 rows? 156 rows would be about 15.6 inches.  Hmm, that’s 3 inches short of a square (this is probably why people do the diagonal diamond.)  An actual square would be 185 rows but then you have to kind of fudge things and skip rows to pick up only 78 stitches.  I’m kinda planning to release this as a paid pattern and that sort of thing is hard to explain.

Then I also have to take into account yarn usage.  156 rows would use about 263 yards while 185 rows would use 311 yards.  311 yards is nearly half my yarn and I don’t know yet how much yarn the Old Shale pattern will use. Time to swatch more.


In the end I will be doing the Old Shale pattern in the round and I know there are differences in yarn usage between flat knitting and in the round knitting.  I’m pretty sure that I use more yarn in the purl rows than knit rows in flat knitting so swatching flat will increase my measurements a bit, which is a good thing.  Better to have extra yarn than not enough.

  • 4 row 18 st repeat of Old Shale = 54 inches of yarn used
  • 4 row 24 st repeat of Old Shale = 72 inches of yarn used

There are 4 corners of 24 stitches plus 12 total of 18 st repeats. One full round of 4 rows would use 936 inches or about 26 yards.  I want 7 repeats so that’s 182 yards.

Also 12 rows or 3 repeats of Old Shale = about 1.5 inches.  Give or take a bit.  It’s hard to measure with the undulations. 7 repeats should measure around 3.5 inches.  2 sides of this border would then be 7 inches.  I was planning on 20 inches so that’s quite a bit different.  But I’m not taking into account an edging.  So now to figure out what I want for an edging.  This will be knit on sideways so I need a row count that matches up with my stitch count – 312 stitches.  But it’s only every other row of the edging that gets knit together with a border stitch so it’s actually 624 rows.  Plus 12 rows for easing around the corners.  636 rows.  More swatching.


I found an edging that I like. It’s 12 rows which divides evenly into my row count.  I knit it once on it’s own, just to get the feel of it and then I figured out how to knit it onto my swatch.  Then I measured how much yarn it uses which is about 3.33 yards.

  • 53 repeats of the edging multiplied by 3.33 yards for each repeat = 177 yards

Sizewise, the edging is about 4 inches, adding 8 inches to either side.  Adding that to the 7 inches of Old Shale gives me 15 inches, close enough to my 20 inch goal (which is after blocking anyway.)

Now let’s add up all these estimations of yarn usage.

  • 236 yards for 156 row center
  • 182 yards for Old Shale border
  • 177 yards for edging
  • 595 yards total

Well that’s well within my total amount of yarn of 642 yards.  Still kind of close since that yarn measurement is also an estimation.  Just for curiosity, I’ll figure out that bigger square total.

  • 311 yards for 185 row center
  • 182 yards for Old Shale border
  • 177 yards for edging
  • 670 yards total.

Well that really gives me my answer.  I don’t have enough yarn for a truly square center so the almost square (and easier to pick up stitches on square) will have to do.

One last thing to figure out.  I want to stripe the Old Shale border.  5 of the 7 repeats will be in a different color than the main body.  So how much yarn will that use?

  • 26 yards per repeat multiplied by 5 = 130 yards

So I need to dye 130 yards brown and the rest teal.  I’ll do the edging in teal as it will contrast against the brown.


This is obviously not to scale nor are the colors right.  It just gives an idea of what I have in mind.

It actually took me most of a day (probably a good 12 hours) to figure all of this out.  This is just the calculations.  Now I have to knit it (and cross my fingers that my math and estimations are good) and then write up the pattern.  I’m thinking I might want to find test knitters for this one.

And before all that I have to dye the yarn.

TdF 2017 final

I spun a few extra days and then plied for about a week to finish up all my TdF yarn.  It’s pretty impressive now that I see it all together and done.


  1. 144 yards of super bulky brown CVM
  2. 535 yards sportweight Polwarth
  3. 127 yards of sportweight Hampshire. Spindle spun but only half of it during TdF. I never got to the darker purple that’s in the pic.
  4. 527 yards of sportweight Merino. The carded waste in the pic got tossed. It was horrible when spun.
  5. 240 yards of sportweight Cormo. There’s a lot more of this fiber to spin. I just didn’t get any more than this prepped before TdF.
  6. 48 yards of super bulky Corriedale combing waste.
  7. 215 yards sportweight Corriedale, plus another 310 yards spun pre-TdF and plied during my massive plying session after TdF. I have more of this fiber already spun for a total of 1504 yards. And that’s not even half of this fleece.
  8. 642 yards of sportweight Shetland/Corriedale lamb.





The last 3 of Corriedale skeins were also solar dyed. They started out that paler purple and I tossed them in a big pickle jar with more purple dye and left it out in the sun for a day. Easiest dyeing I’ve ever done. When the jar was finally in the shade I brought it in, rinsed and finished the skeins. The dye did break and/or dye unevenly but I like it. These skeins are different than the rest so I may use them in different projects or maybe use the uneven skeins to spice up an edging on something made using the more uniform skeins. I have much to ponder about using this yarn.

I’m thinking of dyeing 3 skeins or the Shetland/Corriedale lamb teal and 1 skein brown (leaving the last skein to be dyed later for whichever color I may need more of) and knitting a Hap style shawl. I haven’t found a pattern I like so I’ll probably design it myself.

My wheel has been in use for all but two of 32 days straight and on those two days I spindle spun/plied. I hadn’t touched my knitting in two months until yesterday (because of prepping in the month before TdF).

It’s definitely time to knit.  And ponder what to do with all my new yarn.

Looking back over the list.  It seems that my default weight is sport, no matter how hard I try to get it thinner to make fingering weight.  I think it’s part me and part that my wheel just won’t let me go thinner.  I can’t adjust the uptake enough to go thinner.  Part of that is the warped wheel and part is that it’s double drive.  It’s a fine line between too much uptake to spin thinner and not enough tension on the band (which causes the wheel to throw the band off every 10 seconds and I’m not exaggerating.)


TdF Week 2+

I’ve been terrible at updating.  I think it’s because I post updates in my team thread for the group I’m riding with and then utterly forget to post here too.


Days 8 and 9

I wasn’t really thinking when I combed this and ended up with some light nests and many more darker nests. There wasn’t enough light to make a whole skein so I held a light and dark together and spun from both at the same time. This fiber is clumpy despite combing so I ended up spinning it quite thick. I think it may end up as bulky once plied. I have a few more light nests left and will continue holding them with a dark nest until the light nests run out and then I’ll finish the skein in dark. If I don’t like the end results of these two skeins I’ll dye them. Either brown to try to even things out or maybe red. I’ve dyed the dark brown red before and it turned out well.

Days 10 and 11

Combed Merino. This is as thin as my wheel would allow. I’m guessing at fingering weight once plied, maybe less. Depends on how much it poofs up after washing. It was actually pretty easy to spin. It wasn’t nearly as fussy as I was expecting.

Days 12 and 13

Dyed and combed Corriedale spun as thin as my wheel will allow. The pic of the singles is closest to the actual color. My camera doesn’t like purple.


Day 14

Corriedale combing waste. Now that turned out much better. I spun two singles today, using up the fiber, and plied them on a spindle. They would not have fit on my wheel, both in thickness and length. I barely got it spun with the wheel. My wheel doesn’t like thick. Heck, it barely fit on one of my biggest spindles to ply.

I quite like the variety of shades of purple in the skein. It’s not washed yet so it may fluff up some. It’s definitely going to be bulky.

Days 15 and 16

And another single done. I estimate that I have enough fiber for one more or three total. That’s a respectable amount from a fairly small fleece.

Days 17 and 18

Second Polwarth single done. These will be plied back onto themselves to make 2 skeins. Not bad for 1lb of raw fiber. Probably will knit a small shawl with them – someday – after dyeing them a color yet to be determined.

And that gets me caught up.  Tomorrow it’s back to Merino. And then the CVM and then the Shetland/Corriedale lamb.  That should get me through the end of TdF. I might keep going and finish off the Merino and I think that is all of the fiber I have prepped (aside from the Romney/Teeswater for art yarn).

Then I’ll spend a few days plying and after that it’s prepping Cormo and Corriedale and maybe some knitting.  I don’t think I’ve knit in almost 2 months.  It’s been all fiber prep and spinning.

TdF Week 1

So I didn’t manage to post as often as I planned.  It’s been a heck of a week with a lot of non-fiber things going on.  But I did manage to spin quite a bit.

Days 1 and 2 were spent on the Shetland/Corriedale lamb.  I had a bit of an epiphany. I have one wheel with one bobbin so I’ve been spinning singles to fill the bobbin half way and then spinning a second single and plying the two together. I wind them into cakes before plying. It occurred to me that I could fill the bobbin and wind it into a cake and then ply it onto itself since the cake allows me to pull from the center and the outside. And then I’d have no wasted singles. So that’s what I’m trying now. I won’t ply until the end or after TdF since it requires a different drive band and set up for my wheel. I prefer to do all my plying in big batches.

Days 3 and 4 progress and half of day 5. Despite an emergency defrosting of our refrigerator/freezer on Monday and spending several hours away from my wheel for the fireworks on Tuesday I managed 102 grams of Polwarth singles. Although I did get some work done on my spindle while waiting for the fireworks. No after pic, just imagine a fuller spindle.

As per usual, I spend my time waiting for the fireworks spinning on my spindle. If I’m being honest, it’s more showing off to the muggles with my spindle. 😉 I walk around, half don’t watch what I’m doing and all in all, make it look effortless. Eventually someone comes over to ask questions. Last night it was an older gentleman, who wanted to know about the mechanics of it. He said he’d ever seen anything like it.

Days 5, 6 & 7

This is a gorgeous soft cormo. But it was tough going. This is what I combed before I realized that I really needed to re-scour. It’s still got a lot of lanolin in it so it was very sticky. The rest of the fiber was re-scoured and is lanolin free but I ran out of time to comb more before TdF started.

I spun this thinner than my normal but with the lanolin I can’t tell how much it will poof up once washed (which will be more like a scour).

Today (Day 8) I’ve moved on to some CVM.  I’ve barely started but so far it’s going well.  Much thicker than the others so will probably be done faster.  Although I do have some things that will keep me away from my wheel today so maybe it will take 2 days.

Tour de Fleece

Sorry for the lack of post last week.  I had the pics ready but just forgot.  I got all caught up in prepping for TdF.

I overdid it on the fiber prep last week and combined with yard work over the weekend, managed to strain my wrist.  I’ve been in a brace most of this week in the hope that I’ll be better enough by tomorrow to spin a little. So I’ve been forced to find alternate things to do as I can’t knit or spin or prep so I’ve gotten sort of lost in a computer game.

So Tour de Fleece or TdF.  It’s three weeks of spinning in conjunction with the bike race Tour de France.  I’m with team RWLU or the Raw Wool Lovers Unite group on Ravelry. We’re a very laid back group.  We set our own goals (big or small) and cheer each other on.  The only requirement is that the fiber is from raw fleece.

My theme this year is variety.  In the past I’ve worked on one fleece for most of the tour and let me tell you, that gets tedious fast.  So this year I’ve prepped bits of every fleece I have.  8 different breeds, mostly combed but two have the waste from combing carded into rollags.

So here is the lineup:


The Hampshire is spindles only and everything else is for my wheel.  If I somehow run out, there is more Cormo and Hampshire to prep.

I think I’ll start with the Shetland/Corriedale lamb.  It’ll probably be the easiest to spin.  I have no firm plans for most of this.  It will get spun at whatever thickness feels right. Probably pretty thin as that’s what I tend to spin.

Sometime today I need to change the drive band on my wheel and oil it and than I’m ready to go.  I hope to post a couple of times a week to update my progress (and get in that Polwarth prep post I forgot about last week.)

Cormo Raw Fleece


Next up is a gorgeous Cormo fleece.  This one almost 6lbs.


Some scoured locks.  Those dirty ends flick right out leaving me with lovely white fiber.

Combing in progress.  Same method as the last fleece.


The nests I have done so far.  This should be enough for 2 singles to be plied into one skein.

The rest of the fleece needs a re-scour.  There’s just a bit too much lanolin left in it.  I can comb and probably spin it now in the summer heat without too many problems but come winter, it’s going to be a hassle.  It looks like I’ll have a decent day or two next week to scour so I’ll get this bagged up over the weekend and ready to scour.

Note to self:  Cormo has more lanolin than it appears and needs 2 soapy scours before rinsing.