I feel like a proper grown up designer now, the whole process has been so amazing! Even my surrogate Mam Kate Heppell (editor of Knit Now) sent me a message to tell me what a proud mum she is!
This shawl has been a long time in the making, and was initially inspired as a side-venture from my collection from this time last year, Leaf Litter. That collection was based on a tree losing it's leaves in autumn and I took a lot of mood-board-style photos of various piles of leaves. The overwhelming feeling was that in reality all of the round leaf shapes I was knitting were just wrong. Leaves aren't round (most of the time), they're funny shapes. In London, we have a lot of Horse Chestnut and Ash trees, which have five parts to each leaf, not a dainty round shape.
So I dusted off my scientist hat and investigated some different leaf shapes. The more I thought about it, the more it became obvious that I wanted to create a stitch pattern that represented oak leaves. It had been the Royal Wedding shortly before I started planning this design, I was spinning Shetland, the most British of fibres, and I had found the most perfectly beautiful silver silk yarn in Paris (from L'Oisieve Thé, blogged here). Everything was pointing to something luxurious, traditional, and British. This, mixed with my obsession with Horrible Histories and the Charles the 2nd rap (please, please, watch it on Youtube) and a pattern based on the Royal Oak was born.
I knit the commercial sample first, convinced my at-best beginner spinning wasn't up to scratch for the likes of Knitty. I began working on the centre panel of the shawl knit in handspun (thus not giving away any of the secret special stitch pattern ;) ) at last year's Knit Nation, perhaps you saw me knitting it? A very kind and supportive chat from Judith McCuin and Merike Saarnit (that I will never forget) at the teachers tea later and I was submitting to Knittyspin!
We took the first set of photos one evening in August, but we lost the light so quickly that, while not awful, these pictures were hardly appropriate for publication! One of the first that we took made it into the final pattern, and it is one of my favourites!
It was the last week in October that we took the summer photos in St James' Park - we were so lucky that the deck chairs were out! The weather was so glorious it really felt just right for taking such important pictures!
I hope you feel eager to try and knit your own Boscobel shawl, I assure you it's a quick and interesting knit. The leaves are knit in stockinette, so can readily absorb any slightly slubby handspinning *cough* and the edging is so quick (just 6 rows!) you'll be done before you know it!