New pattern: Beanstalk Shawl

Introducing my latest adventure in textured lace! The Beanstalk Shawl is a botanically-inspired triangular shawl in fingering-weight yarn. Its all-over lace pattern includes twisted stitches for crisp texture, and increases & decreases are worked on every row to create the gracefully-curving pairs of leaves.

Beanstalk Shawl 1

The shawl’s stitch pattern grew out of the leaf-lace motif in my Ensata Scarf & Cowl and Hat designs, which I couldn’t stop playing with further! I added more twisted stitches and stacked the leaves in unbroken columns, and through a lot of trial and error, found an elegant way of fitting the repeats into a triangular shawl shape.

The final effect is an abstract interpretation of growing vines or leafy plants, and makes me think of my Mum & Dad’s vegetable garden, which for its small size produces an awful lot of food. Their tomatoes are a particular point of pride, and I admit I actually enjoy their brussels sprouts (gasp)!

Do you ever find yourself enchanted with a certain type of stitch pattern? The combination of leafy lace and twisted stitches has been haunting me for a while now, and I don’t think I’m quite done yet - I still have a few more ideas charted out and ready to swatch…

Beanstalk Shawl 2

The yarn I used to knit up my sample is Maniototo Wool’s Rough Ridge 4ply (90% Merino cross wool, 10% coloured Polwarth wool; 394yds/360m per 100g skein). This is an airy woollen-spun yarn with gentle heathering as a result of the inclusion of naturally coloured wool in the mix. I used two skeins of the undyed yarn for my shawl, but if you’re a colour-lover Mary has overdyed a few special shades to coincide with the launch of the Beanstalk Shawl pattern.

Techniques involved in the pattern include working lace increases and decreases on RS and WS rows (I have a tutorial coming soon for the WS decreases), and knitting and purling through the back loop to form the twisted stitches. I strongly recommend using stitch markers between repeats of the leaf-lace pattern, to help you keep track of the increases and decreases in the WS rows. Marking out the repeats also helped me get fully into the rhythm of the stitch pattern, which is worked over 6 rows.


Beanstalk Shawl features:

  • triangular shape, worked from one point to the triangle’s opposite side

  • all-over textured lace pattern including increases and decreases on every row

  • twisted stitches add crisp definition to the leafy texture

  • requires two skeins of fingering-weight yarn (shown in Maniototo Wool’s Rough Ridge 4ply), and 10 stitch markers

  • suitable for solid, semi-solid, or gently-speckled fingering-weight yarn

  • one size, easy to alter by changing the number of repeats

  • pattern includes full written instructions as well as charts.

Beanstalk Shawl 4

The Beanstalk Shawl pattern is available on Ravelry.

Knitted treasure

Have you been following the Yarn Love Challenge on Instagram? I've been doing my best to keep up with the prompts for the last couple of months, and it's been great for sparking ideas for my daily photos and also discovering other yarn-loving people through the hashtag.

The challenge prompt for April 30th was "made for me", which gave me the idea of showing off an amazing sweater which my Mum made for me, almost 30 years ago...

That's me and my brother feeding the chooks!

I'm a big fan of the harmonious colour palette, with its brights toned down with greys and pastels. Isn't it beautiful?

The pattern is 'Outlined Star' from Kaffe Fassett's 1985 book Glorious Knitting. It's one of the gems from Mum's collection of retro knitting books which we get out now and then to marvel over. Some of the 80s books are more valuable as comedy than inspiration right now, but Glorious Knitting still stands up in my opinion! I love the photography and colours, and I'm in awe of some of the designs. If you're keen for some top-notch colourwork inspiration, you might be able to find it at your local library or second-hand bookshop. 

There are certain knitting techniques that are generally considered difficult or advanced at the moment, that weren't so much when I was growing up. This sweater incorporates two of them: stranded colourwork knit flat, and 3-colour stranding. And because Mum was comfortable with these techniques, I didn't shy away from them when I first learned to knit. Thanks Mum!

My first attempt at colourwork of any kind was an Inga Hat, which I tried to adapt for flat knitting, but got horribly confused by the braid at the brim. Later, when I'd learned to knit in the round, my first completed colourwork project was an Opus Spicatum hat in a full rainbow of colours instead of the original two - which resulted in working 3-colour (and even a few 4-colour) rounds. It was a massive challenge, but I managed to finish it with the help of online tutorials and sheer bloody-mindedness. Hooray for adventurous newbies! ;)

Bees on the brain

I'm a week and a bit into my holiday at Mum & Dad's in Whakatane, and so far I've knit half a scarf and taken a ridiculous number of photos. I've borrowed Julian's DSLR camera for the trip, so I can get to grips with its manual controls with Dad's help. It's a lot of fun taking practice photos of whatever I fancy!

But before I get into photo-talk, I'll show you the scarf. It uses a stitch pattern I drafted up about six months ago, which is a lace-and-texture version of my Beeswax cable pattern. It traces the same shapes, with decreases forming the surface layer of honeycomb and yarn-overs forming the layer behind. The benefit of this version is that it's easy to knit flat, whereas the cabled Beeswax pattern is only really suitable for knitting in the round.

The yarn is a rich golden shade of Outlaw Yarn's Bohemia Worsted called 'Troy'. I hope to have the pattern available in about a month's time. :)

One really cool thing about playing with a DSLR camera (and having a photographer and his gear on hand) is trying out different lenses. My favourites at the moment are macro tubes, which can be stacked behind the lens to get varying levels of close-up-ness.

You can really see the darker possum fibres and lighter alpaca hairs in this yarn with a macro shot:

I've also been taking lots of photos around the garden, of flowers and insects and birds. I'm most proud of these bee photos, taken with a macro tube extension. The bee was foraging in a big patch of flowering pizza thyme, one of my family's favourite all-purpose herbs.

As part of my new photography learning curve, I've signed up for the free course A Year With My Camera, which involves weekly email lessons and homework assignments to share in the Facebook group (or on Instagram). We're only two weeks in, so you can still join in if you'd like!

New pattern: Silverwing

I have a new shawl design to share! This is Silverwing, a one-skein lace shawl inspired by the birdlife of the Whakatane river, and the graceful white-faced herons in particular. My parents' house and shop are about a 20-minute walk apart, and the riverbank is by far the most pleasant route between them. There are always pūkeko, shags, swallows, and various gulls to be seen, and sometimes I'm lucky enough to spot a heron or a flock of spoonbills.

During my last visit to Whakatane I knit up this shawl (it's a quick knit for a lace project), and did a photoshoot by the river with Dad...

One of Dad's many amazing bird photos! This one's a white-faced heron.

The yarn is a special gradient-dyed silk blend, Ozimerino Soie (50% merino, 50% silk; 438yds/401m per 100g) from local dyer Dawn of Ozifarmer's Market. This colour is called 'Silver', and it's a subtle, gentle gradient with a lot of shine from the silk. I used up all of the yarn to get the most out of the gradient, and it's easy to change the number of repeats at the end of the shawl so you can do the same.

The lace patterns in Silverwing are simple and easily memorised, making it a suitable project for a beginner lace knitter, or an experienced lace knitter looking for a low-attention project for tv knitting.

I like the way the long tail of the shawl curls around itself.


  • an all-over lace pattern inspired by wing feathers
  • an asymmetrical triangular shape, knit from the narrow point to the opposite edge
  • a stretchy k2tog-tbl lace bind off
  • the lace patterns are intuitive and easy to memorise
  • a one-skein project, easily customisable to suit your available yardage
  • perfect for gradient-dyed yarn, as well as solids and semi-solids. The lace is also simple enough for speckled or lightly variegated yarn
  • one size, easily shrunk or enlarged by changing the number of repeats
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

You can see all the details and download the Silverwing pattern via Ravelry or Loveknitting. Dad's website (with a very pretty photo gallery) is here: Jos's Photography & Framing.

In full sail! ;)

New pattern: Folia Loop

Folia Loop is the second design in my La Folia Collection of accessories featuring leafy lace and garter stitch. It's a lightweight cowl that can be worn draped as a long loop or doubled up for warmth. I was lucky enough to have my Mum agree to model it for me!

It requires only one skein of fingering-weight yarn - I used Malabrigo Mechita in 'Pearl', a soft grey with a pretty tinge of mauve. It's a little more tricky than the Folia Crescent shawl, but aside from the provisional cast on and the final grafting it should be relatively intuitive once you've knit the first section or two of the lace. And the garter section is of course smooth sailing!

If you haven't tried a provisional cast on before or would like to try a new method, this is my favourite tutorial, using the crochet hook method: Crochet Provisional Cast On.


  • a diagonal leafy lace panel surrounded by squishy garter stitch
  • long enough to wear looped either once or twice
  • knit flat with a provisional cast on and grafted to finish
  • a stitch marker keeps track of the lace/garter boundary
  • a one skein project in fingering-weight yarn, perfect for that precious single skein
  • one size, easily enlarged by working extra garter stitch rows
  • pattern includes full written instructions and hybrid charted + written instructions

You can see all the details and download the Folia Loop pattern via Ravelry or Loveknitting.

The remaining pattern in the collection, a triangular shawl, is currently being test knit and will be released in late September. You can find the collection-so-far here on Ravelry: La Folia Collection. The triangular shawl pattern will be added to the ebook once it's released.

Curious about the name La Folia? I introduced the collection and its musical inspiration in my earlier post, New pattern: Folia Crescent.