Saturday, April 15, 2006

My First Pi Shawl, KAL Begins

When I knit Kiri for the KO, I fell in love with knitting lace shawls. So I started joining eGroups for shawls and lace knitters, including the EZasPi group which has as its focus the works of Elizabeth Zimmerman and her daughter Meg Swansen. The EZasPi group is a bit different than the other knitting lists I've been reading. These folks chat--about everything! No knitting content only rule here and yet I find I enjoy reading what everyone is saying rather than exercising my finger on the delete button. This is a really fascinating group of folks!

When I joined EZasPi I really was only looking to glean tips and technique ideas from experienced lace knitters, I wasn't planning on knitting a pi shawl anytime soon. I lurked and learned--and then it happened. I got bit! Bit by the "we're starting a new pi shawl KAL" but itwasn't *just* knitting a pi shawl. No, it was a mystery shawl KAL where the clues to the lace designs in the shawl are doled out once a week. Hmmm...sounds well, intriguing. But this mystery KAL has the added twist of multiple choices of lace patterns given in each clue. You pick the option you want to knit not knowing what your next option will be. The only thing you know is that the overall theme is garden. Choose your own yarn and needle size and have a go at it! It was a temptation too good to pass up. After all, I love gardens and all the pretty colors and images that gardens bring to mind.

I have at least 4 skeins of KnitPicks Gossamer laceweight merino in my stash. The colorway is "sunrise"--a blend of a chambray blue and 3 values of muted pink. I bought it with the intent of knitting a faroese shawl but started knitting a lace scarf instead. The scarf never did speak to me so I frogged it after a couple of months in the UFO pile. I'm not sure the sunrise is the right yarn for this project either so I ordered 2 different lace yarns from KnitPicks on Thursday, but started off with the Sunrise yesterday on "cast-on" day. Actually, I think it looks really good at this point, so I'm pleased. I am using US 4 needles for my shawl. I know others are using larger needles with this yarn (size 6-7 or even 8!) but I don't like my lace to look too loose/lacy. I played a bit with a size 5 which looked ok, but I let my practical self decide to go for the 4s. I had to buy both the dpns (Crystal Palace bamboo-my fav) and 16" Addis for the project--not cheap! I knew that I would use the size 4 dpns a lot more for knitting socks and such in the future making them a wiser choice for my meager budget. Ta Da! The shawl will be on 4s! I just love the flexibility of knitting lace! Or maybe it's just that I hate the battle to make gauge for sweaters and things where it matters.

So needles and yarn at the ready, next comes casting on in the round with tiny yarn and fat dpns. I've used Emily Ocker's crochet cast-on successfully for a couple of hats this winter, so that's what I chose. It wasn't too bad, but the finished result wasn't perfect as I ended up with a weird extra loop. It's not that obvious and I can hide it when I weave in the tail. Well, that is unless I return to my perfectionist self and decide to frog and reknit the center. It wouldn't take very long. Maybe I will, maybe I won't...

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