Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Start of the Flock (Rams & Yowes part 2)

At last I've started to knit my modified version of Kate Davies' Rams and Yowes blanket, after spinning the yarn for what seems like a very long time.

I'm calling it Mixed Flock.

As I wrote back in January, I have spun the yarn from fleeces of several breeds of sheep - different coloured Shetlands, Zwartbles, Ryeland and Blue Texel. I also blended three different combinations to produce some of the background shades.

I enjoyed seeing (and photographing) all the different colours together.

 As some of the shades are similar, especially in artificial light ,I labelled every ball carefully.

I wanted to make some modifications to the design - to record the different breeds, and the lovely Shetland names for the colours, in the knitting, and to make it bigger. I have spun over 3100 metres of yarn, much more than the original design requires.

I spent an afternoon deciding how many extra pattern repeats to incorporate, charting all the names and working out how to position them on the blanket. Its a good thing my phone has a calculator function!

Then at last I was ready to cast on and start knitting the first row of Yowes, which includes the first of the sheep breed names. Shaela is a particular light-grey Shetland.

Like all traditional Fair Isle the blanket centre is knitted in the round with a steek (the vertical lines) - these are extra stitches which will be cut to allow the piece to be opened out flat. The two colours in every row are used alternately on the steek stitches, I'm working them in vertical stripes to give me a guide for cutting straight.  

The sharp-eyed reader will notice that I have (so far) omitted the first peerie pattern - that is because I am a bit short of the moorit shade, so I will wait to knit that part later, maybe in a different colourway. (I have another moorit fleece as yet untouched in the shed if I run really short!).

You might also notice that I have a circular needle cable running through the stitches along the bottom of the work, as well as at the top. I wanted to do a provisional cast on, to have the live stitches ready for adding the peerie pattern and the border later. Most provisional cast-ons involve picking up the live stitches later, when the waste yarn is unravelled. This is always fiddly and time-consuming. I wanted to find a way to get those live stitches on to the cable of an interchangeable needle straight away, so that when I am ready to knit them I just need to attach the needle points, and start knitting. So I did a modified version of the moebius cast on, using a spare cable (with stoppers on the ends) rather than doubling the cable round in classic moebius fashion. It was probably quicker than a normal cast-on and seems to have worked. The extra cable did make the first few rows of knitting slightly awkward but as soon as there was a little space between top and bottom rows I could forget the bottom cable.  If I like the finished result when I have knit these live stitches I will try to post a tutorial.

Knitting the sheep is addictive - I always find when I'm knitting stranded colourwork that I don't want to put it down, and find myself knitting late into the night  just to get the next part of the pattern done! I'm also really enjoying the truly woolly feel of the handspun yarn as it passes through my fingers. So I'm going to stop typing and get knitting the next row of sheep! I'll post again when the centre is finished....


  1. Ciao Deborah e' bellissimo, complimenti.

  2. I love the precision and methodical approach to this, what a truly inspiring process story and how wonderful your multibreed rendition of Kate's classic pattern is going to be when it's finished! Gorgeous!