Stephen West‘s Exploration Station shawl was a personal knitting challenge I set myself in 2016.
Stephen is a well-known, flamboyant knitting designer. His patterns are challenging because he is famous for loving the brioche stitch, which many knitters approach with trepidation.
Brioche stitch is daunting because you knit every row twice: yarn-overs are knitted together with a slipped stitch from the previous row. Gak! Even reading that sentence is enough to put me off!
The Exploration Station shawl is quite a well-known pattern of Stephen’s and it only has one section of brioche. Furthermore, the pattern stipulated a 2-colour brioche, which makes it easy to identify the yarn-overs and slipped stitches that you’re supposed to do stuff with.
The recommended yarn was Madeline Tosh Merino Light – a beautiful and expensive yarn, quite hard to find in Australia. I did eventually get 4 skeins online from Yarn So Fine. I highly recommend this yarn – if you ever see some, grab it! It knits up so beautifully.
The pattern says to choose 3 neutral, matching colors and 1 contrast color. I did the best I could given my limited options: El Greco, Court & Spark, Smokestack and Begonia Leaf.
This is a semi-circular shawl with distinct sections.
In between each section is a dark grey band. Yarn-overs create the holes dotted along the band.
Eventually you do a section of two-color brioche, then a section of ‘textured stripes’ and finally a chevron border. Get the whole thing off your needles with an i-cord bind off.
I made a mistake in my brioche section because I didn’t practice beforehand. Ha! I noticed when I was just about at the end of the row. With almost 300 stitches in the row, I was disinclined to correct it. Also, it is complicated to reverse knit (or ‘tink’) slipped stitches and yarn overs. I forged ahead, hoping that the blocking process might disguise the mistake.
I used skewers to keep my edge straight when blocking. I pinned out the tips of the chevrons on the border.
The shawl is quite large after blocking and the yarn has a beautiful drape. Can you spy the mistake in the brioche section?
I am very proud of this shawl. It was a great challenge and I have had many compliments on it.