I have reached the summit of the Mountain…

…and I did not perish!

Mountainash: a project of desire, love, frustration, boredom, longing, and determination. In that order.

His first appearance nearly a year ago was met with much enthusiasm, both from me and my readers. I saw a challenge: a Shetland-style shawl, the pattern for which was written in a language completely foreign to me. You became spectators of a true knitting battle: Grumperina versus Mountainash, Determination versus Language Barrier, Persistence versus Boredom.

Many more posts followed, and some progress was made… and then summer came. Glorious, beautiful summer! How could I stay indoors and stare at charts when the heat and humidity were so gentle, the sun so radiant? Boredom put her foot down on July 25th.

Mountainash and all his paraphernalia went into hibernation for about four months. Once in a while I’d consider knitting a few rows, but the time wasn’t right yet. In December I wrapped up a bunch of projects and had a few weeks of waiting while the yarn for my grandma’s beret and the Komi hat arrived. I didn’t want to start anything new in the meantime, and that’s when I picked up Mountainash again.

I didn’t blog about this clandestine spurt of productivity because, frankly, the bits that were left were rather boring. The stitches for the main part kept shrinking, and the border was a serious test of my persistence. Besides, I felt that saying “I’m working on Mountainash” out loud would be a hex and the whole thing would tumble into another four-month hibernation.

And now it is done, and you have come for some details.

Pattern: Mountainash shawl, New Style of Heirloom Knitting. The book was a most generous gift from Siow Chin.

Yarn: Lacey Lamb in color 202. I used about a skein and a third, 80 grams, 1100 yards. At one point this yarn was distributed by Jade Sapphire, but I don’t think they’re carrying it anymore. You can still get it at many shops.

Needles: Most of the shawl was knit using 2.75 mm (US 2) Inox Express circs, and most of the border, 2.75 mm dpns. Smaller needles were specified for the center top of the shawl, so I used a 2.50 mm KnitPicks circ and 2.50 mm Inox aluminum dpns.

Finished dimensions: This one came out a monster: 74″ across the top, 35″ from top edge to point.

This is where I would typically list my modifications. I’m sure the difficulty of this task doesn’t escape you, considering I only have hints and guesses about the actual instructions. I know for sure that I assembled Mountainash in a completely different order than the pattern specifies. And that’s about all I know.

This inadvertent change had me most worried about attaching the border. Fortunately, I had completed my Melon Shawl prior to tackling the border of Mountainash, and had no hesitations about “afterthought border attachment” when the time came.

One of the most special things about this project was the yarn I used, Lacey Lamb. This 3-ply cobweb weight 100% lambswool is the definition of sproingy. The knit fabric felt like a very fine sponge, trapping lots of air between all those plies and strands. The shawl was minuscule before blocking: 47″ across the top, 22″ to the point. Enough stretch was stored in the fiber to nearly double it in size during blocking! The only downside I noted while working with this yarn is that it split somewhat easily – nothing a good pair of knitting needles can’t circumvent.

Click for bigger

As for my thoughts about using a pattern written in Japanese… let me put it to you this way: knitting Misty Morning was ten times more complicated, and that one is in English! I made sense of some of the instructions using this chart, deciphering the characters for ‘stitch’ and ‘row’ and ‘needle’, and for the stitch symbols I used this chart. Most importantly, as Cara recently mentioned, “the charts aren’t in Japanese, they’re in KNIT.”

It doesn’t hurt that the charts were virtually error-free. There was the one mistake in the beginning, and I found another simple one in row 237 of the main triangle: that k3tog should be a k4tog. But considering there’s a total of 249 rows in that main part, by the time you get to #237, I think you’d be able to figure it out on your own :).

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136 thoughts on “I have reached the summit of the Mountain…

  1. tarilyn

    Congratulations! Mountainash is be-yoo-ful! That photo of you behind the shawl is even more spectacular! To think that you were able to achieve this feat without oxygen is beyond me! The best part is that you don’t have to descend now that you’ve reached the summit.

    BTW: Nice to know that I’m not the only one up at this ungodly hour!

  2. Sarah

    Congratulations on your accomplishment. You overcame much to complete this lovely shawl. Thank you for sharing the Japanese links.

  3. Megan

    That’s stunning, and the shot of you behind the shawl is exquisite! I can’t think of more to say at this hour (which is funny, because in grad school, your late night posts were my study breaks, but now that I’m a member of the workforce, well, I shouldn’t be up now), but thanks for sharing!

  4. Jennie

    Beautiful!!! Just amazingly beautiful. So intricate and just delicate. This will be a treasure for many years to come. Or should I say many generations. πŸ™‚

  5. Sarah

    Holy smoke. Boundless admiration from me – both for the exquisite shawl and for your grit is finishing it! Maybe this will inspire me to pick up my poor neglected Lotus Blossom again.

  6. Brenda

    Gorgeous! Great choice of color, too. I am always inspired to improve in my knitting when I see such a knitted masterpiece. Congratulations!

  7. CatBookMom

    Eleventy dozen others will say this, too, but your shawl is magnificent! I’m currently struggling with sock weight yarn on US1s, and you’re doing an entire shawl in spider-web on US2s. Glorious!

  8. rippedoffknitter

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful shawl. Absolutely stunning.

    I love looking at lace, and knitting it, which brings me to my question:

    How, when, and with what do you wear your lace shawls? I’m afraid most of the shawls I’m planning to knit will rest in peace in my wardrobe waiting for some special occasion that rarely or never comes, and that is a sad destiny for something so pretty and time-consuming.

  9. Bronte

    Beautiful! I hope you’ll wear it often. I never thought I’d be a shawl wearer, but after knitting a couple, I’m determined to show off my work. πŸ™‚

  10. del

    I lurk at your blog all the time, but I finally have to comment because this shawl is FREAKIN’ AWESOME!!! I can’t believe you haven’t been knitting your whole life. And congrats on being in “Interweave”–my fave knit mag ever. GREAT work!

  11. LaurieM

    THAT is an heirloom. My goodness, it is a stunningly beautiful, incredible piece of work. You must be so proud of your self. I’m happy for you that you got past the boredom to finish it.

    Just WOW….

  12. amy

    I’m not worthy to even read this blog, I don’t think. How gorgeous! Congratulations on reaching the summit. Thanks for sharing the finished product. And, as always, I’m in awe of your persistence and talent.

  13. Sara

    All I can say is wow… it is so stunning that I can’t honestly find words to describe it. It also makes me itchy to cast on for my first lace shawl!

  14. mari

    Its absolutely gorgeous! I was wondering if you were going to resurrect it. Congrats on finishing the shawl, its a great color for you too.

  15. ~Lori

    Delurking to join in singing the praises of YOU and this shawl! It is exquisite, as befits the high level of difficulty. It’s quite possible, isn’t it, that you are the only knitter in the U.S. to have made this shawl – very exciting!

  16. Pat

    I think that is the most exquisite shawl I have seen! So delicate and beautiful… I can’t stop going back to take “one more look” at the patterning.

  17. Carolyn

    Absolutely beautiful! I admire your persistence. Now where will you wear such a fabulous shawl? : )

  18. Barb in Sudbury


    I just returned from a school meeting where they said they try to help the kids improve their self-esteem by giving them hard things to do and letting the kids struggle and then succeed.

    You, my dear, must be full of high self-esteem right now!

  19. mari

    SO beautiful! I am just amazed at your mad knitting skills (I think I say that just about every post!)

    I’m so glad that you were able to decipher the Japanese pattern. I really think that people would find it really rewarding to try a Japanese knitting or sewing pattern – they are pretty logical and not very wordy. Lots of good pictures and charts. Great job!!!!

  20. Teresa

    *gasp*..wow! Now I feel somewhat inferior and really embarrassed that I had ever screwed up on basketweave stitches.

  21. Eileen

    Really lovely. I love the babuska look. My grandma would approve, as she was always trying to get a babuska on me…never one so beautiful though.

  22. monica

    This is my first post here, I found your blog through a knitting class I took last november at Cooper Union here in New York. Combination knitting was one of the first issues that arose, and our teacher, Lisa Daehlin, recommended your site. I’ve been addicted ever since. Your blog is entertaining and informative. Also, you have good taste! I’ve bought two books (knitting nature and scarf style) that I originally saw here. I enjoyed the suspense that built up yesterday in the comments over whether this was actually Mountainash. Victory! Rock on Grumperina! And thanks for all the inspiration.

  23. Lana

    It’s gorgeous! As always, I must bow before your perseverence. I hope this hasn’t turned you off Japanese patterns for life, though! Some of them are really wonderful. Have you ever checked out the Japanese handknitting magazine, Diakeito?

    I read enough Japanese to get by, so if you ever feel like tackling another pattern and get stuck, I’d be happy to help.

  24. Mary in NC

    What can I say other than AMAZING!! Utterly amazing…both the knitter and the knitted.

  25. Colette

    It’s gorgeous, inspiring, intimidating. Cudos to you for starting it and being brave enough to set it aside and then actually pick it back up months later and complete it.


  26. Megan

    Wow, that is just crazy. As in, crazy delicious! I’m inspired to pick up my lace scarf that has been lying fallow since summertime.

  27. xtina

    I also LOVE Lacey Lamb and this a one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen made with it. And Yes, Jade Sapphire still distributes it (they even have new colors this year!) so any shop who carries Jade Sapphire should be able to get it. Well done, lovely.

  28. Laura

    Another beauty. I’m happy that you finally finished the shawl. I was thinking about it a couple of week ago, believe it or not.

    now I want to make more lace shawls πŸ™‚

  29. Angie

    I am hypnotized. Which, thankfully, is not the same as springing into action. In my 40 some years, I have only knit a handful of shawls and none of them near to the musical perfection of the mountain ash. How could I ever attempt to climb in your footsteps?

  30. Miriam

    Don’t know if anyone else mentioned this, but Jade Sapphire IS still carrying and distributing Lacey Lamb. At TNNA they had just got new ball bands for it so that it wasn’t in Chinese, but they just don’t have it up on their website.

  31. Beth S.

    I can’t believe it! You revived Mountainash! And aren’t you glad you did? It’s utterly gorgeous, googly-mooglies and all!

    Are you giving it to your grandmother? πŸ˜‰

  32. Karen B.

    Everything that’s already been said. With a cherry on top and sprinkles!

    I especially love the shot of you obscured by Mountain Ash. Despite the trials and tribulations, you come shining through.

  33. Samina

    I’m (almost) speechless. That’s one of the most beautiful knitterly things I’ve seen of late. Congratulations on a job superbly done.

  34. Marguerite

    Oh my. That’s one of the most amazing knitting accomplishments I’ve ever seen in blogland.

    Totally gorgeous. Enjoy wearing it and be proud, proud, proud!

  35. Beth

    Congratulations on finishing, that is one lovely, lovely lace shawl, and I love the color. I wish I had the nerve to try lace, I have a few lace books, but I have not gotten up the nerve yet.

  36. Tajhia

    That shawl is amazing!!!!!

    Totally and utterly beautiful and I admire your skill and dedication in getting it finished.

    There is no way I could knit something like that – I simply do not have the patience.

  37. aj

    Not sure what else to say but BEAUTIFUL and I know that doesn’t cover it. You should be so proud of yourself for accomplishing such a feat!

  38. Kyle

    Absolutely Beautiful! Thanks for the yarn review. We just got lacey lamb in at the yarn shop where I work, in many wonderful (and atrocious) colors, and I was wondering how it knit up. Sproing-y yarn is wonderful to work with!

  39. Lynn

    As you’ve heard, it’s beautiful!

    What I would like to suggest is..enter it in your State Fair. Seriously. Lace like that deserves a Blue Ribbon. Seriously.

  40. Lizbon

    WOW. And again WOW. I am bowled over. It’s stunning, and the endurance and smarts it took to create it are even more so. Wow.

  41. Maritza

    HAHAHA!! I am so glad you actually posted the image of the shawl as a flag on the mountaintop. That’s great! That said, this project is quite the accomplishment. You did a beautiful job! Mountainash is just amazing. Love it!

    P.S. – I especially love the photo where you are holding Mountainash in front of you. Artfully done!

  42. Nancy

    The shawl is incredible! I can’t believe you figured it out from a Japanese Chart! Wow! And congratulations on having your sock pattern published in the magazine. They are beautiful. Nancy

  43. Teyani

    congrats on this epic accomplishment! It’s a beauty.

    luv the photo too (grin) – it is so fitting for this completion.

  44. Bells

    I’m sitting here with my first little bit of lace in my hand and dreaming of a day when I’ll be as good at it as you are. Wow. Just beautiful.

  45. Janis


    I’m not worthy to even gaze upon the FO pix… whew! Amazing! — And I bet you didn’t even leave your empty oxygen bottles lying all over the summit!

  46. Laverne

    The before and after photos are astonishing! What a fun blocking job.

    Congratulations on the beautiful work and the determination to see it through. This is one of the best things about knitting. We can build ourselves up with confidence when we manage such beautiful results.

  47. Cara

    Breathtaking doesn’t really begin to do it, does it? You put my Japanese knitting to shame. I can barely start the swatch.

    To say I’m impressed would be the understatement of the century. Brava! Brava!

  48. JOMY


    I saw the lacey lamb at my LYS, and saw how thin it is.

    WOW. Wow, wow, wow.

    I’ve flossed with stuff thicker than that!

  49. Sandy

    I’ve been a bad blog-reader lately and just came across this post. This shawl is absolutely stunning! I wish I could make it for myself…

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