Monday, February 15, 2016

Knit In Progress: Exploration Station

It's been nothing but sock city around here so I thought I would break up the monotony of sock knitting by casting on a shawl. I've been wanting to knit Stephen West's Exploration Station shawl for almost a year now, and especially after seeing so many gorgeous versions on Instagram and the ones a few ladies from my Friday knitting group had made, I decided it was time to give in and cast on one of my own. 

When the idea to knit an Exploration Station came to mind, I knew immediately what yarn I wanted to use: Madelinetosh's Tosh Merino Light, the same yarn that Mr. West used for his samples. I had a skein of Fluoro Rose that I had purchased two Christmases ago in the Okanagan (souvenir yarn!) that I was just dying to use and planned to build the colour palette around, as well as a few skeins of grey in various tones. I envisioned a monochromatic colour scheme with the neon pink as the star. You're not surprised, are you? I know. Neither am I. But once I went through my stash to put this idea together, I realized that only one skein would work with the Fluoro Rose and that was Tern. The black and the other greys that I had wouldn't work. The black had too much of a brown undertone, and the greys either too brown or lavender, and none of them was enough of a contrast to the Tern anywaysI was going to have to visit my LYS to supplement what I had. But hey, having two out of four skeins needed in the stash isn't bad, right?

Lucky for me my LYS had just received a fresh stock of Tosh Merino Light and I had a glorious selection in both blacks and greys to choose from. I picked out Onyx as it was the blackest of the black - a "true black", if you will, that really made the Fluoro Rose pop. Not that it needed any more pop. I had a hard time choosing the lightest colour. My initial instinct was to go for the lightest grey possible but out of the handful of greys available, none of them looked right to me. There just wasn't enough of a contrast. I did both the squint test and took a photo with my smartphone (using the mono filter), and all the lightest greys just blended together with the Tern. As I was hanging the unwanted skeins back onto their pegs the creaminess of Antler popped out at me. 

Hmmm...this would work.

It took a few tries and a lot of ripping out before I was able to decide on a colour order. The first section is nothing but garter stitch short rows, which was quite soothing and quick to knit. After a while I was starting to wonder if the Antler was too light, too much of a contrast.

Taken from my Instagram feed

It's probably too early to decide and I most likely won't know for sure until I get to the textured sections. Other than wondering about my choice in Antler, this shawl has been a joy to knit. Well, after I switched needles, that is. The pattern itself is fine, but I had cast on the shawl using the only pair of Signature Needles Convertibles that I own and it was great for the garter section but once I hit the "bountiful brioche"...ugh! I started to grumble about what a pain in the arse brioche was. Every ten stitches or so I was wrestling with the stitches, trying to move them past the join on the needles. It got so bad that my fingers started to hurt and my enjoyment of the project was in major jeopardy. I wasn't sure if it was the nature of the stitch in combination with the yarn or if it was the needles. I never had such issues with my other Signature needles. Mind you, they're the old, fixed circulars. I quickly knitted the stitches onto a pair of Hiya Hiya Sharps Interchangeables, fearing that I would shove the WIP into the dark recesses of my closet out of sheer hatred if I had to continue fighting with the stitches. Fortunately the change of needles solved the problem and the enjoyment factor is back! Phew!!

I'm still on the brioche section because I took a few days off from knitting and then I got distracted with other projects. I'm in no hurry to finish this shawl and I've even taken to weaving in the ends as I go!! I know, what's up with that?? Have I turned over a new leaf? Probably not. But trust me, there are a ton of ends in that first segment of the pattern and when you're trying to give your hands a break from knitting from time to time, you might as well tackle the mundane tasks while you're even remotely motivated to do so. 

Or so I've been trying to tell myself!


  1. I love the colours you chose for your shawl, it looks like an antidote to gloomy weather. And high fives to you for weaving in as you go!

    1. Thanks! But I have to admit, the darkish days sometimes makes looking at the neon pink a little easier on the eyes! ;)


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