Flicstar Studios

Textile artist

Exploration Station

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.

Exploration Station 9

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.


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This entry was posted on 28/02/2017 by in Wearables and tagged , , , .