Happy Halloween! Just in time for the spooky season, a project that has engaged most of the household for the entire summer is finished – the Cailleach Shawl. This stunning, witchy, wooly garment is knit in Cozy Hearth Yarn Works hand-dyed Rustic Worsted yarn (Dubh as the primary colorway, with a one-of-a-kind skein providing the accent edging). I dyed up the yarn early in my development work for our Dathanna series, my wife Kai and I worked on the pattern design together, and she knit the entire finished object! While Kai primarily works with Cozy Hearth Yarn Works as a fan, supporter, and frequent knitwear model, she has been working on improving her own knitting skills, and this shawl shows that improvement magnificently. Rather than blather on forever, though, I’m going to let her introduce her own work.
Kai showing off the wild chaos lace edging of the Cailleach shawl.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO MAKE THIS SHAWL?
I knew that I wanted something that was a little more witchy feeling for my wardrobe, and I also wanted a BIG warm shawl. We’d recently attended an online conference about (among other things) the Cailleach, and that gave me enough background on her lore to confirm that she would be an appropriate association to call on with the creation of the shawl.
WHO’S THE CAILLEACH? (I KNOW, BUT OTHERS MIGHT NOT!)
She is a figure in Irish and also Scottish folklore and mythology. As far as we can tell, she’s a preChristian goddess that in Irish folklore is associated with the building of great stoneworks, and also in more recent folklore has heavy associations with cunning women, shapeshifting, and general witchery.
Shawl wrapped traditionally around her shoulders and fastened with a pin, Kai leans back against a tree.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF WORKING ON THIS SHAWL?
I think honestly the thing that I had the most consistent trouble with is keeping count of where I was as the rows got long. This project had the longest rows I’ve ever worked on, and I was, um, not as diligent at keeping track in some places as I should have been.
WHAT DID YOU LEARN WHILE WORKING ON THIS SHAWL?
That chaos lace is possibly the most fun technique I’ve ever discovered! Also: counting is important. I found that I really also enjoyed the fade technique that I used to transition from the Dubh colorway to the edging colorway, and that’s making me think I’ll have fun with similar color-changing effects in the future.
Enjoying the seasonal foliage / Wrapped up close for warmth / Securing with a pin
DID YOU LIKE YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH DESIGN WORK? AND RELATEDLY, ARE YOU PLANNING ON RELEASING THIS PATTERN?
I almost feel guilty calling it design work because it’s composed of very simple patterns with a crazy tail added on, but yeah- I can’t give instructions for identical chaos lace to mine, but if people are interested I can write out a simple sketch! (Kit note – I’m interested in knitting up my own copy of the shawl, so I’m also invested in a written pattern existing.)
DID YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH THE YARN?
Yeah! It wasn’t a difficult yarn to manage, so it feels like it’s fairly strong without being scratchy or unpleasant to touch. It’s a good, medium, balanced yarn. One of the things I enjoyed about the dye work itself was the way that it very subtly moved from a deep, purpley tone to having hints of blue and brown and green, so in different lights the shawl has a range of colors like what you’d find in, say, a blackbird feather.
WHAT WAS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THIS EXPERIENCE?
Having a big warm shawl to wear that’s exactly what I’d been picturing.
WHERE DO YOU PLAN TO WEAR SUCH A BIG STATEMENT SHAWL?
Wherever I want! I figure I’ll mostly wear it as an outer layer on colder days, as it’s pretty heavy for milder weather. (Kit note – she’s literally been wearing it everywhere. A shawl this fabulous makes its own space, and Kai has never been shy about her wardrobe.)
Kai likes to have fun during shoots / She also just really, really loves this shawl
WHAT ARE YOU MAKING NEXT?
Right now, I’m working on trying to level up my basic knitting skills before I try to do anything more ambitious. I’m going back to the Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits and working on the Oats Cowl.
And that’s all from Kai! I am also very in love with this project, and, as mentioned, I’ll be working with her on making the pattern more accessible. For now, though, it’s time to go enjoy the spookiest of eves. Stay warm, friends!