High Sierra Shawl

With the Waverton Cowl under my belt, I took a dive in the deep end of the pool and started on the High Sierra Shawl by Romi Hill. It’s my first larger knitting project, and definitely not rated for beginners, even though it’s quite achievable. The pattern is well written and extremely clear. It also comes with video instructions. I love the lace, colour changes and asymmetry featured on this shawl, and I was quite determined to complete it.

I picked out the a Cloudborn Merino Superwash Sock Twist Mini Set in Hill Myna (gold and greys) with a larger skein of Cloudborn Superwash Merino Fingering yarn in black and cast on. It took me about an hour and multiple tries to cast on, even though there were only five stitches required! It was another new cast on method for me (CO through loop), but the result is that the stitches blend in seamlessly with the rest of the shawl. The cast on is actually situated in the middle and not at the edge of the shawl. After that, it was straight off into lace knitting on the first chart.

My colour choices, cast on, and completion of the first chart!

Once chart A, B and C were completed to form the top triangle with circular lace motifs, it was time to bind-off even though the shawl was just beginning. I found this to be a surprising construction, and tried the reverse stockinette i-cord bind off for the first time, which gave a clean looking edge that blended well with the garter stitch of the triangle. Once bound off, I continued knitting by picking up stitches along the lower edges of the triangle, added in some stripes and started the colour changes.

The shawl is starting to take shape

The rest is a combination of lace panels, stripes, and colour gradients that are constructed in an asymmetrical but balanced way. I found the construction to be extremely interesting and eventually got into the rhythm of it. In total there are 7 lace charts. The hardest (for me) was definitely Chart D. This is probably in part because I was still getting accustomed to lace knitting, although it is undoubtedly a very busy chart that includes triple yarn overs.

Completion of Chart D
A couple more lace panels added (E and F) along with two more colours. Just one more lace chart to go!

It was a bit of a relief to complete the last lace chart and see the shawl come together. But just when you think you are almost done, there’s a number of additional stripes to add at the end. And they are LONG stripes of about 400 stitches each, which comes out to many thousands of stitches, so it takes longer than you would think. After a lot of knitting I finished and it looks great!

This High Sierra Shawl is all done!

Like rays of sunlight shining over the mountain peaks, this shawl is a stunner. It’s bold with stripes and colour contrasts. Elegant with lace and gradients. It’s been my most ambitious knitting project to date, but I’m so glad I did it.

Difficulty: Intermediate


  • Cast on through loop
  • Reverse i-cord bind off
  • Lace
  • Pick up and knit
  • Short rows
  • Stitches: k, p, kfb, sk2p, k2tog, k2tog tbl, YO, k tbl, M1, k3to, ssk
  • Stretchy bind-off

Knitty fame

While knitting my shawl I had the privilege of being featured on Instagram by @craftsyknits!

Waverton Cowl

After a small handful of successful “beginner” level projects, and while still considering myself a beginner level knitter, I couldn’t help but dabble in lace knitting. I have always admired the intricate detail and femininity of lace. (This being in cakes and fashion!) It perhaps is no surprise that I’d decide to jump right into this as my next step in knitting. I picked out the Waverton Cowl by Kate Atherley as my first lace knitting project for a couple of reasons.

  1. Cowls are relatively small projects.
  2. The design has a small lace repeat across the entire surface, which means repetitive practice.
  3. The cowl is knit in a worsted (medium) weight yarn, and it is generally easier to work with a yarn that’s not too fine or too bulky.
  4. This is a practical cowl for everyday winter use. It’s warm, functional, and also beautiful (because lace).
  5. The pattern is free on Craftsy and includes video lessons! Get it here.

Knitting the first half of the cowl was slow going. I had to redo a number of rows and spend a good portion of time fixing mistakes. Lace takes some concentration to keep track of where you are, and looks complicated. With practice however, I eventually could see how to read my stitches to identify mistakes and fix them. That being said, in a way lace is easier than it would seem. It really just consists of strategically placed holes, stitch increases, and stitch decreases in repeating patterns.

The project is knit in Cloudborn Superwash Merino Worsted Twist Yarn, a warm but soft 100% merino wool that’s machine washable . The colour is slate heather, which goes with everything. This pattern features a delicate chain along the side of a lace diamond motif.

Diamond motif lace detail

In the end, although it was a bit slower to knit, my first lace piece was a success!

Here I am wearing my cowl (and the Chunky Striped Hat I knit previously)

I learned a number of new techniques with this project other than lace knitting in general, including how to read charts. In fact, I now prefer charts over written instructions for lace. I also learned some new stitches (k2tog, yo, ssk, k3tog), and the Russian lace bind off.

Difficulty: Adventurous Beginner


  • Knitting in the round
  • 1×1 rib stitch
  • Basic lace stitches – k2tog, yo, ssk, k3tog
  • Russian Lace bind off

First Steps in Knitting

Last August I learned how to knit, and it was fun! The problem is, I don’t have time for knitting. But, I did manage to find a solution to this and I have now been knitting fairly regularly during my daily commute to work. I feel it’s a more productive use of my time than people watching, or trying to sleep but not actually sleeping. I get to make something functional (and hopefully fashionable as well). I get to stretch my mind and creativity in something new. In fact, deciphering knitting patterns is really like solving a puzzle. You get a block of symbols, or list of abbreviations. From that you determine how to make your stitches, put the pieces together, and voila! The puzzle comes together and actually looks like a knit garment if you did everything correctly.

Anyways, below are some of the knitting projects I have finished!

My first project was a pair of fingerless mitts. When I started I fully expected them to be a complete disaster of holes and ragged edges, but while a little uneven in places, they turned out pretty good. In fact, they even fit! I learned a lot from this first project –  the long tail cast on, how to knit and purl (along with garter, stockinette and 2×2 rib stitch), casting off, and some basic seaming including garter seam and mattress stitch.

Fingerless Mitts


They even fit!
They even fit!

Next I made a waffle stitch cowl – actually two, because the first I gave to my mother for Christmas (Cloudborn Highland Roving in Oatmeal Heather). It was a surprisingly quick project to finish because it used a super bulky weight yarn on thick needles. I had also gotten the hang of basic knitting so my speed started improving. Here I learned to knit in the round.

I have since been wearing my waffle stitch cowl almost daily. It is a comfy, warm and soft, as it is knitted in 100% merino wool (MadelineTosh ASAP in Gossamer). Great for this year’s cold cold winter.

Waffle Stitch Cowl I – Cloudborn Highland Roving (100% highland wool) in Oatmeal Heather
Waffle Stitch Cowl II – MadelineTosh ASAP (100% merino wool) in Gossamer

And third, my latest project to complete was a Chunky Striped Hat. Each took me less than a week of train rides, but I learned how to switch colours, and basic shaping, including a decrease stitch (k2tog). It is also super soft and warm in 100% merino wool (Cloudborn Merino Bulky in Ocean and Grey Heather). The pompoms were especially fun!

Chunky Striped Hat
I had exactly enough yarn for two hats with jumbo sized pompoms!

I have some projects currently on the needles in some increasing complexity now. Stay tuned!