Highland Autumn Leaves Stole

Autumn was reaching out at the end of August last year… even though the days were still hot, the air started to smell more crisp in the morning and some leaves were already falling. This was the time when I fell in love with the colorway “Hayloft” of Brooklyn Tweed’s yarn “Shelter“, in anticipation of autumn, my favorite season.

Color Story
Brooklyn Tweed describe their inspiration for the color “Hayloft”: “Harvest time amber gold. Hayloft is yellow caramelized with brown and garnished with orange and olive. It melds beautifully with all our autumn tones, but also makes a sophisticated contrast against our greys and deep blues. Use Hayloft to richly brighten any wardrobe, either in a statement piece like a dramatic blanket-front coat or as an accessory that can lift more somber ensembles.”

It reminded me of the stunning rich colors of lichen and moss in the Highlands of Scotland – and that lichen actually was also used to dye garments in brown, red or yellow: “The lichens were scraped off the rocks using metal hoops, spoons and, in the poorer districts, seashells.” (Source: Scottish Natural Heritage)

They also have been known to be good indicators of air pollution – rather like the canary down the coal mine, so where they color the landscape, the air has to be ‘pure as wine’.


Autumn Leaves Stole in colorway “Embers” (by Jared Flood)

So, the yarn was decided – and what pattern could have been more fitting than the “Autumn Leaves Stole” by Jared Flood (Pattern on Ravelry). He wanted to create a “lace piece that pays homage to those beautiful, falling Autumn leaves.” He designed it beginning with a simple Estonian leaf pattern, which flows out from the center towards either end elongating the ‘leaves’ by 2 rows on each repeat.
The pattern is a simple rectangle and in order to achieve perfect mirrored halves, the piece is worked in two parts — each starting at the outer edges and worked towards the center.  Live stitches from either half are grafted together upon completion.

Knitting process
So for a start, I fiddled with some (as it turned out) minor problems, due to some misunderstandings I had, being inexperienced with lace patterns. The pattern is easy though, once you get the hang of it. The pattern description is flawless as well (as always from Jared Flood).

Knitting from a proper chart is so much easier (for me) than following only written instructions (in Europe /Germany you don’t have such detailed instructions as common in english patterns, so I’m used to working from charts).

I started the first rows with needles US 9 (5.5mm) as recommended but didn’t like the result – too loose, it looked somehow messy. So I re-started with US 8 (5mm) needles and stayed with them.

Some things to remember

  • Chart reading: Start with row 1 (right side / RS) reading from right to left, then read row 2 (wrong side / WS) from left to right etc… all odd-numbered rows are on the RS and are read from right to left, all even-numbered rows are on the WS and are read from left to right.
  • Marking the charts: Color the first and last row of pattern repeats in the printout of your charts. Makes it easier to follow. Use post-it’s (sticky notes) to hide the rows you have already knit. This makes sure you don’t get confused in which row you are. I always have to look at the charts for every row, can’t memorize this stuff. :)
  • Stitches: Check thoroughly, how stitches are knit on RS and WS. For example, stitches shown in the chart as knit stitches in the WS row are actually knit as purl stitches.
  • Use a long-tail cast-on as recommended in the pattern, as it’s stretchy, and the project needs to be heavily blocked when finished.
  • Border: The first and last three stitches of every row are always knit stitches (= border)
  • WS rows are always purl stitches, no lace pattern on the WS rows. Yay! :)
  • Don’t use stitch markers: I wanted to mark the pattern repeat, but it doesn’t work, as the placement of the first stitch of the pattern repeat travels. Check the yarn-overs instead to see if you are still following the pattern or not.
  • Pattern repeats: The first stitch of the pattern repeat (Double decrease) starts with one stitch before the actual stitch placement.
  • Yarn usage: I started the second skein on row 29 of Chart B and the third skein on row 7 of Chart C, 7th repeat of Chart.
  • Stich holders: I didn’t place stitches on a holder as instructed but left them on the cable of my KnitPro needles and secured the cable ends with those thingies that come with KnitPro cables. Just changed needles to a new cable to start the second half of the stole.

And don’t forget: The first stitch after the yarn-overs (which is the stitch that “anchors” the yarn-overs) has to be counted as the first of the knit stitches which follow the yarn-overs (for example: yo, k3). It’s not counted in addition to those following stitches (not: yo, k1, k3). That’s a personal mistake I sometimes make and it took me some time to find out. Ahem. ;)

The grafting together of the two halves as indicated is not as difficult as it sounds, but it leaves a little “seam” nevertheless. I don’t know why the stole couldn’t be knit in one part, except that the designer wanted the pattern to be mirrored. But it’s not necessary in my opinion.

For the finish, I wet blocked the whole shawl with blocking wires and pins, which is necessary to even out the little leaf “bumps” and create a straight edge.

All in all, what a genius pattern this is. The stitches are really easy to do, no fancy lace things, just knit, purl, yo’s, k2tog, ssk and a very easy double decrease. But the pattern is so cleverly written that it almost feels as if you are painting with your needles… and the leaves are almost organically growing. Very much fun, not boring and perfect pattern. :)


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