Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Grace Darling

Every year Knit Now magazine publishes one issue that celebrates all that is good in the British knit world, from wonderful home grown wool to local yarn spinners and dyers. I am thrilled that one of my designs has been included in this year's showcase issue, my tribute to a true 'Best of British' heroine, Grace Darling.

Photo © Dan Walmsley
One early morning in September 1838 Grace Darling looked out across the North Sea from the window of her father’s lighthouse to see the wreck of the SS Forfarshire, and the survivors stranded on a nearby rocky island. The weather being thought too stormy for the lifeboat, Grace and her father rowed out to save 9 people. She was hailed worldwide as a heroine – gifts of shawls, silverware and silk arrived, artists turned up unannounced to paint her portrait, and Queen Victoria sent £50 (which would be worth nearly £4,000 today) as a token. After refusing numerous proposals of marriage (and one invitation to appear in a circus) she succumbed to TB in 1842, aged 26. 

Grace Darling by J W Carmichael
© RNLI Grace Darling Museum
Ever since that fateful day, the RNLI lifeboat at nearby Seahouses bears her name … as does this capelet, with its breaking waves pattern and foamy edging. I imagine Grace hastily wrapping it around her shoulders as her eyes search the cold, crashing waters below. 

Small size, knitted in baa ram ewe Titus
Photo © Anni Howard

A word of caution - the cast on row takes some stamina. For every stitch, you cast on 4 stitches then cast off 3, which pays homage to Grace and echoes the rhythm of her rowing as she struggled against the waves. But, the remainder of the knitting is fast and easy, so once you are past the cast on row, the rest will sail by. And a tip - when working the edging and wave patterns, you may find it easier to keep count if you place a marker at the end of each repeat.

Large size, knitted in
YarnAddict Silky Camel 4ply
Photo © Anni Howard

Using only one skein of baa ram ewe's gorgeous Titus 4ply (last year Knit Now readers voted this wool/alpaca blend their favourite British yarn) the capelet is warm, quick to knit and versatile. You can wear Grace Darling in various ways - the smaller two sizes fit loosely around the shoulders as a lacy capelet, as shown in Knit Now, while the largest size can be wrapped around the neck like a scarf and tied at the front or side. Enjoy!

The Knit Now photoshoot was held on a bitingly cold January day, and I respect the poor model for her determination to keep smiling while wearing such flimsy attire. You can read more about the day in editor Kate's blog in the magazine.

Knit Now issue 32 is in store now, or can be purchased online here.

To find out more about Grace Darling visit the museum website.

To buy baa ram ewe Titus, see all the shades here.

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