Shetland Skies … the Northern Lights poncho

This design was such fun!

Since dh and I went to the Shetland Islands in 2018 for our 20th anniversary, I have been wanting to design a real stunner, using the authentic, Shetland wool yarn I’d purchased at Jamieson & Smith while there.

This design, a long time in the planning and designing, solidified when the Jamieson & Smith group on Ravelry offered a KAL (knit-along) which was supposed to reflect the Northern Lights … the Aurora Borealis … the “merrie dancers” (in the patois of Shetland) either in color, symbol or theme.

The colors of the Northern Lights are all my favorites … bluey-purples, neon yellow, shades of greens. Gorgeous stuff! I had bought many of them in 2018 … and opted to order a cone (2500 yards) of blue yarn. A blue that is sort of navy but not quite … true blue but not quite … a very cool shade.

Here were the yarns I first pulled together:

I started to swatch and play and plot and plan. I realized that there were just too many colors, so I cut out a few. I “dumped” the beige/browns and took out the darkest green and darkest purple (they didn’t pop enough against the blue). I ended up with 14 colors (including the main, blue color):

the project colors

I first designed a swoncho …. a poncho with sleeves … and worked toward that. I couldn’t just knit a simple crew neck. Instead, I designed a loose neck, using the classic “feather and fan” lace prevalent in Shetland lace knitting. Working top down means I can stop the knitting when it’s the right length and I’m done. I then made sleeves and a body.

the swoncho … waiting for blocking

You can see the classic snowflakes …

the tree (where the increases hide) …

the houses on the hills above the ocean …

the waves of water.

I shifted some stitches to hold and then worked the bottom border. And then I left it out, waiting to be blocked. I kept passing the swoncho and touching the colorwork, loving it more and more …

… BUT I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the sleeve placement … or the look … or the entire swoncho.

So, knowing I would never wear it unless I liked it … I opted to change it.

I cut off the bottom and sleeves …. If you look closely at the photo, the bottom piece shows why you can cut true Shetland wool and it won’t go anywhere while you finish it. It’s super “sticky” … think Velcro … and this isn’t felted!

cutting off the “ugly” parts

I picked up the stitches and finished it off with a broken-rib hem. In the blue. While I love the band that I had knit, I tossed it in the trash so I would not have to remind myself about the error of my designing judgement.

And here it is:

Shetland Skies … a Northern Lights poncho

This, and all my designs, are available for immediate download in my Ravelry store. Check them out and let me know what you think!

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