Friday, July 07, 2006

Shawl Notes

My dad emailed to say that DD wore the new shawl to summer school this morning. YAY!!!

Kat, here's the
blocked photo in a larger format. I sharpened it a bit and increased the contrast to make it easier to see the stitch pattern.

Cassie, the reason I washed the yarn before knitting was it was a new yarn for me and I wanted to avoid surprises. Some finewool yarns relax a lot when one washes out the spinning oils and lets the hanks dry without tension. Yes, the other option is to knit a swatch, then wash the swatch, which is what I would do with a coned yarn. These hanks were in an easy format for washing and I was craving a predictable medium.

Annie asked about the lace pattern adjustments. DD chose BW's arrow lace and I knit a swatch and then started subtracting lines or columns of stitches to "walk" through the family of associated stitches. It was fun to reduce the arrow to a selection of other stitch patterns, most of which are in BW's books.

The stitch pattern I liked the most visually, though, had a k5tog. Looked great but I knew I'd grumble while knitting, and the row count fluctuated a lot -- okay for a round shawl but the selvage would have wiggled in a half-circle. I ended up starting with a wider Kiri style cast-on, working through a few openwork stitch patterns that had easy transitions, then removing the repeat row from the classic arrow lace to get a chevron-arrow cross.

The original arrow is long enough that I would have needed an additional pattern between to make a smooth transition from the smaller openwork stitches to the arrow lace. I had two balls of yarn and knew I was cutting it close (ended up two yards short and had to rip back and leave off one repeat of the edging), and that I'd be lucky to get to row 192 as is. The formulaic planning of shawls like the Pi does lend itself to sampler style knitting like this.

I did a few of the transitions over a couple of rows because it was subtle. My daughter doesn't wear ruffles or anything with strong lines, so a row of eyelet in the midst of the chevrons was not going to pass her scrutiny. I did stick pretty closely to the overall counts for a half-Pi, definitely within the accepted margin of error.

I think one of the reasons this shawl felt like a slog to knit was being hemmed in by the Pi rules. They make planning more fun, but the execution is then too predictable for my spoiled, whimsical inner knitter. I prefer a constant challenge. Knowing I was running out of yarn actually made the experience more interesting. Perhaps I should make myself sit down and re-engineer the neckline on the KOKAL vine shawl as penance, if only to remind my brain that it does have the capacity to think in a logical manner. [My brain just winced and is working on an escape clause.]