3 hour class: Marlisle Tiny Ess Shawl

An excellent, project-based introduction to Marlisle. In this class, you will make a condensed version of an Ess Shawl from Marlisle: A New Direction in Knitting in order to understand all the techniques you will need for a full-size version. This class doubles as a swatch for an Ess Shawl AND an introduction to Marlisle and the principals of theknotted steek (or steeking in general, if you have never cut your knitting before). The knotted steek is an unusual approach to steeking that is ideal for maintaining the stretchiness of your knitted fabric in a way that many steeks do not. In the Ess Shawl, it is used to create an attractive fringed edge that doesn’t require you to loop additional yarn in. By using a steek, you benefit from being able to do colourwork in the round from the front side only and means this shawl has very unusual construction. The knotted steek is also used in the Shantay Cardigan and Ruperto Scarf in the same book, so this will set you up to tackle not just the Ess Shawl, but many other projects with more confidence.

Intermediate/advanced beginner

– Experience of working stranded colourwork.
– You must be confident working small circumferences in the round in the manner of your choosing (for example using DPNs or the magic-loop method).

– understanding the construction of the Ess Shawl
– basic Marlisle using two colours of yarn (with one as a feature colour)
– approaches to changing between colours
– managing floats and yarn
– understanding the function and application of steeks
– casting on and off for a knotted steek
– establishing a steek zone
– securing stitches for safety
– safely cutting knits

– pencil
– small sharp scissors
– ruler or tape measure
– An optional copy of Marlisle: A New Direction in Knitting is recommended. Full instructions are provided in class to work the swatch, but not the actual shawl.
– Depending on whether you will eventually knit the small or large size, the Ess Shawl calls for 100g/3½oz or 200g/7oz of fingering weight yarn AND 125g/4oz or 200g/7oz light worsted weight. For further details, see the Ess Shawl pattern entry on Ravelry or read the details in the book. Go for 100% wool, ideally not super wash treated – you want something a little ‘sticky’ for easier steeking and more forgiving colourwork. You want 2 contrasting, but harmonious colours. If you are undecided of the yarn for your full size-shawl, you will need at least 25gr of each for your tiny version.
– 4mm (US6) DPNs or circular needles long enough for magic loop (depending on personal preference and existing knowledge – aka it’s not a good time to try magic-loop or DPNs for the first time!). Students can bring a range of sizes from 3.35mm (US3) to 5mm (US8), as they may wish to adjust during class, while we are together.
– a crochet hook (whatever you have that’s close to the needle size)


– quiet space for teaching
– chairs
– tables
– light
– refreshments
– possible use of white/blackboard or flipchart – a big piece of paper of some sort will do.

Explanation of steeking (if useful for promo copy):
Steeks are indispensable in allowing you to knit all manner of colourwork projects in the round, from the right side only, thereby avoiding purling with two colours on the wrong side. They are most commonly used to knit cardigans as if they were sweaters. A steek involves cutting your stitches, which seams terrifying until you do it. Steeking remains a thrilling moment, because it feels naughty to put scissors to your knits. However, when practiced correctly, your stitches will be totally safe! (It’s certainly good to do it in good company the first time.)