Writing this in early August 2018, in the middle of a heatwave that feels like it’s lasted for years, the mere thought of wearing knitwear makes me want to puke. however, I’m so pleased with my finished Ohra Shawl, by Caitlin Hunter of Boyland Knitworks, that I decided to review it - even if there’s no chance I’ll be wearing it any time soon.
This is actually the first shawl I’ve made, and now I want to make them all - check out my Ravelry queue if you don’t believe me! I started making this Ohra shawl back in May after seeing it on Instagram. I fell in love with the tassels and the boho feel of it all, and could see it becoming a staple in my wardrobe, worn with a leather jacket and boots in the autumn, or as a cover up over summer dresses when it got a bit cooler on summer evenings. (Unfortunately, those of you in the UK will know that right now, it does not seem to get cooler, evening or not!)
The Pattern - The Ohra Shawl by Caitlin Hunter at Boyland Knitworks
The pattern itself is by Caitlin Hunter at Boyland Knitworks, and she truly has some wonderful patterns and example garments, just looking at her Instagram or Ravelry site is inspirational. I bought the patten itself from Ravelry for $7.20 which I think is a good price, and I had a look at a few examples and test-knits to get some ideas for colour-ways. A lot of people mentioned that the shawl came up a bit smaller than they expected, which I would also agree with, (more on that later) but besides that, it doesn’t seem like anyone has a bad word to say about it.
I left the pattern sitting in my downloads folder for a month or so while I found the right yarn, and finally got around to casting on in May. It begins at the top with a bit of stockinette and cable stitch, and includes a bit of eyelet stitch, moss stitch and ribbing, but everything was explained in a lot of detail and I think even if you were new to some of the techniques, you’d be able to get through them using the instructions in the pattern.
There were a few rows where I was a little out on the stitch count, but I just added an extra stitch to the next row, which didn’t seem to cause a problem, luckily. There are also a few rows where the eyelets are a little off, and they don’t look exactly uniform, but this is definitely my error rather than a problem in the pattern.
I loved knitting the Ohra shawl and learnt a few new techniques along the way, like ‘Jenny’s surprisingly stretchy bind off’ which was good to test out. Overall the pattern was simple enough so that I could follow what I was doing whilst watching a bit of TV in the evening, but complex enough to keep my interest.
Before blocking, the pattern tells you to create the tassels, which took a little longer and was a bit fiddlier than I expected, but they really are the highlight of the piece and are well worth doing. I was worried that during blocking, they might become a little straggly, but they actually look far better after blocking so definitely do the tassels first. For the large tassel at the point of the triangle, here’s what I did…
How To Make A Large Tassel
I have created a full tutorial, including images, in a different post. Click here to open the tutorial in a new tab.
- Cut lots of lengths of all the different yarns you’ve used in your project, all around 20-30cm long. How many you use depends on how full and fluffy you want your tassel, more strands = fuller tassel.
- Lay a single strand of yarn across the centre of the many strands of yarn at a right angle - we’ll call this strand ‘B’.
- Fold all the many strands in half so that strand ‘B’ is enclosed in the fold, and tie strand 'B' in a knot.
- Holding strand B out of the way, take another single strand of yarn (strand ‘C’) and wrap it around the body of the tassel near the top, approximately a quarter of the way down. Tie this in a few tight knots.
- Strand ‘C’ should blend seamlessly with all the other strands of yarn that make up the body of the tassel, trimming the bottom of them all so the length is even.
- You can attach your tassels to anything you like, using strand ‘B’ at the top.
Once I’d finished the pattern, I thought it looked rather small and shrivelled up, but I think that's actually how most shawls look when they’ve just come off the needles. After I blocked it, stretching it out on a towel and pinning it into place, it grew a lot and really gave the eyelet stitches a chance to shine. I used some Soak wool wash in ‘pineapple’ which smelled divine. I don’t have proper blocking mats, so instead I covered the carpet with a plastic sheet and lay a clean towel on top. I then stretched the shawl out on top of the towel, pinning it into place with regular sewing pins, making sure that the top and the spine of the shawl (in this case the cabe stitch down the centre) were straight.
The Yarn - Felt Fusion, Cosmic Strings and Drops
The pattern calls for four different colours of fingering weight yarn, two that make up the majority of the shawl, and two that are just used for a few rows, to separate the different sections and add interest.
The first skein I bought was a merino single ply yarn by Cosmic Strings. The colour is called ‘Steampunk’ and is a lovely mixture of pinks greys and blacks. I loved the yarn and have maybe just under 50g left which I intend to put to good use!
After getting my first skein sorted, I started to look for a colour to compliment it, but really struggled to find something that was just right. I wanted a light pink base, with a few black and grey speckles to add a contrast to ‘Steampunk’ but couldn’t find anything I liked. That’s why I got in touch with the lovely owner of Felt Fusion. After speaking to her on Facebook and telling her what I was looking for, she created something that was perfect. Again, it’s on a merino singles base, and is a beautiful pastel pink with occasional black speckles.
The other two yarns I used are ones I already had in my stash, they are both Drops Baby Alpaca Silk in ‘blush’ and ‘light grey’. Alltogether, I’m so happy with my yarn choices, and I loved seeing how the different speckles and gradients showed up in the stitches as I was knitting them.
Other Materials in the Ohra Shawl
There were only three other bits and bobs that the pattern needed. One being the knitting needles of course, and I used my set of 4mm interchangeable needle tips from Grainline Studios, with a 100cm cable. I also used a simple cable needle with a V in the centre, and simple stitch markers made from spare yarn. I usually prefer these to store-bought stitch markers.
There was one part of the process that didn’t exactly go according to plan… I had just finished my first line of tassels, so was pretty pleased with myself, as I neared the end of the pattern. I had my project in a knitting bag under a table which I had precariously placed a hot, full, and strong cup of tea. I’m sure you can guess where this is leading…
Fortunately the tea did not completely drench the whole of my shawl - I got away with a few splashes on the light pink sections (of course it was the light pink sections!). Although I can’t say the same for the spare yarn I had left over, I’m afraid that was completely covered.
Of course, I ran straight upstairs to the tap to try and wash some of the tea out. Without rubbing too hard and pilling/ felting the yarn, I rubbed some mild detergent on the stained areas and washed it off, I then left the whole project to soak in some wool wash for about 15 minutes before taking it out to dry. In spite of my best efforts, there are still some patches that look rather more orange than pink, but I’m hoping this looks intentional. Lesson learned - do not drink hot liquids around light, delicate knits!
Anyway, I’m still so pleased with the overall result and would love to hear what you think too. Have you tried the Ohra Shawl pattern and do you love yours too? What would you do if you spilled hot tea all over your near-finished project? Make sure you let me know in the comments below!