I agreed to knit a shawl for a knitting magazine even though I was secretly scared of the yarn.

Do you have much experience knitting with lace-weight yarn? 

I’ve used it a few times in shawl designs but it’s tended to be the slightly thicker type of lace-weight or ‘sticky’ mohair. So when the editor of The Knitter magazine got in touch to ask me if I’d like to design a shawl with some gorgeous merino silk lace-weight (800m per 100g), of course I said “yes please”, but secretly I was a bit nervous about knitting with such fine yarn.

This prompted me to have a think about which needles I would use for the project. Recently when I’ve knitted lace, I’ve enjoyed using a 4.5mm Hiya Hiya Sharp fixed circular needle: as well as having quite sharp tips, the metal is smooth, allowing the stitches to slide easily off the needles.

I decided to leap into buying a set of the same needles but the interchangeable version … and I’m so glad that I did! They are lovely and sharp, but not too sharp, just enough to tackle the fine lace stitches. Actually, I think sometimes needles that are too sharp can split the yarn … so it’s definitely a case of choosing the right needles for the job, whether that’s in terms of the sharpness of the needles, or the materials that they’re made from.

Despite having the ‘right’ tools for the job, I did panicked a bit when I started knitting the sample and realised I was dropping stitches every so often. Argh! I thought maybe it was my lack of concentration due to lockdown but I realised that it was just that I wasn’t used to knitting with such fine yarn or with my new needles, so I persevered.

Now I’m well into the project, and into the rhythm of it, it’s flying along and I’m loving working on the design. Plus there’s no more dropped stitches! Sometimes you need to give new things a chance and knitting lace-weight yarn with sharp slippy needles has definitely been a learning experience for me.

A light a floaty piece of knitting is suspended above the ground, creating a dappled shadow.

The final shawl is going to be a beautifully floaty and light piece of knitwear even though it’s made of nearly a kilometre and a half of yarn! While I can’t show you a photo of the actual shawl, I’ve shared a couple of photos above of one of my initial swatches, which will give you a feel. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share some photos of the real thing soon.

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