Star Soup

This year, I’m trying to finish up all the knitting I have in progress, before casting on anything new. I have a LOT on the go, so this is going to take a while. (I also have very little discipline when it comes to knitting and keep casting on more projects, but that’s another challenge. The rationale is that I’m stash-busting.)

My current focus is a circular shawl in gradient-dyed yarn. Let’s talk about that today.

Once upon a time (way back in 2012), a designer created a circular knitted shawl that was essentially a map of the heavens. For every star visible above in the northern hemisphere, there’s a hole and a bead in the shawl. The pattern is called Celestarium. (Subsequently, she did one for the southern hemisphere called Southern Skies.) This is a pretty cool pattern, IMO, and qualifies as geek knitting. There are over 1000 Celestarium shawl projects on Ravelry, if you have some time to browse. Almost 600 of them are completed.

Some time after that, Earthfaire created a kit for the shawl, featuring gradient-dyed yarn from the Unique Sheep and crystal beads. Here’s the product page for the kit, although they don’t have any more.

I did get a kit when they were available, although it’s been waiting on me for a while. (Stash must age before use, you know.) The colourway is called Twilight. Mine shades from purple through to deep blue black. (You could choose to have it shade the other way – the last shade is the biggest skein and is for the border.) This is the same yarn base as my BitterBlue shawl – it’s a merino and tussah silk blend called Luxe. I really like this yarn, probably because I really like raw silk. It also doesn’t have the seracin smell that some silk yarn has, which I really really really dislike.

I’ve been knitting on my Celestarium for quite a while now. It has a lot of plain knitting, with the occasional star – which stands to reason. Even on a starry night, there’s more sky than stars! The charts are huge because there are no repeats: the final chart prints on eight sheets of paper, which then are taped together lengthwise to show the rows.

This is not TV knitting.

Here’s a star:Celestarium shawl knitted by Deborah CookeSee the little hole to the left of that middle bead? This is from the part closer to the middle of the shawl, where it’s more purple.

(Mr. Math has found a pun for this one, btw. When I drop a bead, he calls it a falling star. When I find it, he asks if I’ve caught a fallen star. Of course, he then advises me to put it in my pocket and save it for a rainy day.)

Round shawls that increase in diameter at a regular rate are called pi-shawls, and are based upon a design by Elizabeth Zimmerman. (My Urdr shawl was another of these.) What happens is that the number of stitches doubles at set intervals, which creates circular bands of the same stitch count. Clever designers make magic happen in these bands. When knitting a pi-shawl, I find that the first few charts are done really quickly, then the stitch count gets high enough to slow me down. The Celestarium shawl is knitted with fingering weight yarn, so the final chart has 576 stitches in each round. (The Urdr shawl was knit in lace weight, so the stitch count doubled one more time on that one.)

I’ve finished the body of the shawl, knit some extra rounds around the outside and am now knitting the border. I chose a traditional Shetland border called Wave Lace. It’ll look much better blocked, but here it is, still bunched up on the needles, but stretched out a little bit on the rug.Celestarium shawl knitted by Deborah CookeI actually pulled two stitches off the needle accidentally when taking this shot. =8-o

800 rows of border to go, then it’ll get a good block. I’m looking forward to seeing it then – blocking lace is magical.

What do you think?

9 thoughts on “Star Soup

  1. Hi Deborah, as I read your post, all I could think was where do you find the time to get everything done?! Between your books, posts, traveling and maintaining a home, you also have time to knit? And not just simple pieces but more complicated ones like this beautiful shawl. It and you are amazing!


  2. That shaw is awesome. On Mar 25, 2016 5:03 AM, “Deborah Cooke & Her Books” wrote:

    > Deborah Cooke posted: “This year, I’m trying to finish up all the knitting > I have in progress, before casting on anything new. I have a LOT on the go, > so this is going to take a while. (I also have very little discipline when > it comes to knitting and keep casting on more projec” >


  3. When you are finished all your projects that are started and languishing, can you figure out how to sell motivation? I’d like to finish mine too!
    Looks beautiful Deb, hope you wear it out and about to show it off!


  4. I’ve been trying to start this shawl. I’ve never knitted in the round, and I keep having to start again, but I am determined to winagainst the pattern. Starting and getting to a reasonable size seems the hardest part.


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