Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Shawl


I didn’t design this, so I think I can say without boasting that this shawl is amazing. Heck, even if I did design it–or especially if I had–I could boast that this is one amazing illusion knit.

This is Steve Plummer’s incredible “Harry Potter’s Deathly Hallows Illusion” shawl. He’s WoolhelminaToo on Ravelry. The pattern is downloadable on Ravelry. Plummer has a very helpful website that sets out lots of information on illusion knitting, which some prefer to call “shadow” knitting. Especially for Plummer’s work, illusion knitting is more apt. He’s a knitting magician!

Here’s a video Plummer and Pat Ashforth (Woolhelmina on Rav) prepared to show off the Harry Potter illusion.


Honestly, if this were the Middle Ages we all might be burned at the stake for such knitting! Is that about the coolest knitting effect ever?

I’ve done simple illusion knitting before, like Elizabeth Fallone’s Spider Scarf and Donna Druchunas’s Hidden Cat Scarf. My first introduction to illusion knitting was Shetha Nolke’s Alien Illusion Scarf from Debbie Stoller’s first Stitch ‘n Bitch book. Taking nothing away from those more simple illusions, Plummer’s work is definitely several cuts above.

This shawl will be a holiday gift for a particular Harry Potter fan I’m very fond of. Yep, that would be Isaac’s mom. Here’s Isaac, just a few weeks old, wearing the Sorting Hat Grandma Me knit and felted for him. (Isaac sorted into Gryffindor, by the way).


My shawl follows Plummer’s pattern exactly, except that I decided not to add a border or fringe. The edges were very tidy and, though initially the ends curled a tad, a bit of steam solved that. To keep your edges neat, when you start a new color just enforce a rule that the new color always is added by going under the old color. Or, for that matter by always going over the old color. The point is just to be consistent.

And be sure to use stitch markers across your row. Every ten stitches works really well because that’s how Plummer’s pattern separates the stitches as the rows progress.

My shawl is knit in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash Solid, in gold and burgundy–the Gryffindor colors, of course. The yarn comes in many pure solids and has great stitch definition. For illusion knitting, solid colors work best and stitch definition is important.


Harry proved devilishly difficult to photograph. But you can see the illusion fairly well here even though it’s photographed almost straight on. In worsted weight, it’s a large-sized shawl. It could do double duty as a wall hanging. And it will make an interesting conversation piece just laying around on the back of a couch.


That’s the Deathly Hallows symbol on each end of the shawl.

Plummer’s directions on “how to” are excellent and very clear. Even if you’ve never worked this style of knitting before, if you know how to knit (every right side row is knit stitches only) and to purl you’ll be able to do this. The charts are small and you will need to enlarge them or work on a tablet with an App such as Goodreader or IAnnotate. In fact, the patterns have recently been updated to accommodate such Apps.

This was such a fun knit! I’m eager to try another. Possibly Mona Lisa. The Beatles would be a great wall hanging. But Plummer’s Hagrid’s shawl, that’s very special too. Albert Einstein is interesting for sure. Hmm.

Simply Sweet Shawl, in String Theory

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This is Knitwise Design‘s newest pattern, Simply Sweet Shawl. I knit mine in one of the suggested yarns: String Theory Yarn’s Caper Sock. And, yes, that’s Long Lake in the background.

This is a wonderfully rhythmic knit. It’s almost all garter stitch, with properly placed increases that help keep the shawl securely in place on your shoulders. The scalloped edge is an interesting technique. I won’t spill the beans, but as Linda Courtney puts it, there’s “no tricky knitting required.” Basically, to borrow an Elizabeth Zimmermann term, it’s an “afterthought” scallop.

I decided to knit mine in two colors, and keep the I-Cord bows the same color as the body of the shawl.

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It’s total knitter’s choice on whether you use two or three colors. Here’s Linda’s 3-color version:


This is one pattern name that suits. Simply sweet.

Simply Sweet was my maiden voyage with String Theory yarn. I intend to return for more trips. Caper sock is a luxurious fingering weight superwash: 80% merino wool, 10% nylon to put a nice bounce in the fabric and, ahem, 10% cashmere. Caper is supposed to conjure up thoughts of Capricorn (a goat, possibly a cashmere goat) and also there’s all that capering we knitters do as we skip about delighting in the feel of such wonderful yarn. Sometimes it’s best not to think too much about why patterns and yarns end up with the names they end up with.

It’s great yarn, though. My colorways are citron, a lively yellow green,  and black tulip, a deep purple.

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Long Lake’s (un) Common Loons


In early June, this Common Loon was sitting on the nest on the west side of Belly Button Island–the island in the north part of Long Lake. Its mate, who shares nest-sitting duties, was out fishing.  Great news: by June 17th, when this next photo was taken, we can announce a successful nest.


Here’s our one loon chick, riding on a parent’s back. The mate was nearby, apparently the father because he was nervously posturing in vulture pose. He did this even though we were very far off with a telephoto lens, quietly proceeding in our small pontoon boat with its peppy 15 hp outboard.

The pair is a little nervous now, rightfully so. Long Lakers will all hopefully give the family a wide berth. But there are Bald Eagles looking for lunch. Big pike lurk about. And I don’t like the look in the eye of that big-headed, turkey-platter-sized snapping turtle. You know, the one with all the green moss clinging to its back. Hopefully this young one survives to its October adolescence.

The pair nesting on the island near the public access seems not to have fared well. Early in the week, the loon was on the nest. Since we saw their nest activity even before the nest went into full swing on the bigger island, and incubation periods being what they are, the chicks in the lower lake should have hatched first. Instead, on June 18th–with both loons fishing in the lower lake, I kayaked close enough to the nest to see that it was empty. Not even any egg shells. And no sign of any chicks in the lower lake.

But the next day, we saw this loon back on the nest. The empty nest. It was squashing itself way low, even though we were far away. It was bobbing its head up and down–down close to the water.

mourning_loon_lowresIt’s very wrong-headed to anthropomorphize animal behavior. But these loons definitely tempt in that regard. We’ve taken to calling this photo The Mourning Loon.

One chick, one precious chick. Please let me know if you’ve seen another. We’re still hoping maybe they’ve got it stashed someplace we haven’t seen.

If we keep our fish hooks at a distance, our power boats throttled back in their vicinity, and our fingers crossed, Long Lake can help a new member of this threatened species launch itself southward come fall.

Glam Shells


This is Marissa Hernandez’s Glam Shells. The free pattern is available on Ravelry, in English, Spanish, French, German and Russian. It knits up quickly and easily even for the lace knitting impaired (like me). More than 700 Ravelers have knit it and posted their finished project on their project pages.

My Glam Shells used only about 350 yards of fingering weight yarn, on size 7 needles (US). Hernandez says the shawl should end up at 59 inches by 29 inches. I decided not to block very aggressively and mine is 50 inches by 24 inches. I used Natural Colors Merino Fingering by Swans Island. It’s a 3-ply light fingering weight, which I believe is a bit lighter weight than the Cephalapod Yarns Skinny Bugga that the pattern suggests.

I decided to take out a mortgage and buy a skein, one skein, of Swans Island. I choose the teal shade. You probably figure that my camera made it look blue. Actually, no.The ball band warns not to use wooden needles because dye will bleed from the yarn as you work and stain the needles. They weren’t kidding about that. So much dye bled while I worked that I had to keep wiping off my Addi nickel-plates to keep the stitches moving easily. My hands were stained blue. And it was not easily washed off the skin. In more than 50 years of knitting, I’ve never seen yarn bleed like this while I worked.

I can only imagine that the teal color was a mix of dyes that included indigo. Anyway, it included something blue. I soaked my Glam Shells for about 10 minutes in cool water and unscented Soak. The water turned a deep, deep blue. I cleared the basin and soaked it a second time and still the water was very blue.

The shawl looks great. It feels wonderfully soft. It’s very lightweight. But it isn’t teal. And all the soft plastic stitch markers I used are stained with dye.




Mallard mom was moving along at a good clip on the eastern shore of Long Lake, fairly close to shore. Her ten teeny ducklings were having a hard time keeping up. Every once in awhile they needed to do that frantic scooting-across-the-water-thing that ducks can do. It’s that move where they create a great commotion and put themselves in overdrive for a short distance. One or two ducklings would start and in short order the rest would join in.

You think mallard mom would slow up because putting on such a clownish display can’t help but draw the attention of those who prey on these little fuzz balls. But this afternoon it was a good day for ducklings. Ducklings, 10. Bald Eagles and snapping turtles,  0.