Saturday, September 01, 2007

Splish Splash

My lace shawls have been taking a nice warm sudsy water...before being stabbed with long skinny wires and stretched to the limit. And since it's been so hot and dry around here lately, the stoles were bone dry in record time. The end result: 2 shawls (Coral Lace, Hanami) are already finished and a third one is soaking even as I write (MS3-Natural). Oh boy! I had to block the shawls one at a time because I don't have enough blocking wires to do 2 at the same time. I probably would have done them individually anyway since these projects fit on my guest bed and it's so much easier on the creaky old body to use the bead instead of the floor in the family room.

First up is a Coral Lace Shawl that I started last year sometime and cast-off earlier this summer. For some reason I just didn't get around to blocking this shawl which is kind of sad because it turned out beautifully and is the perfect summer accessory. The pattern is the Lavender Linen Lace Shawl out of Nancie Wiseman's "Knitted Shawls, Stoles, & Scarves" book (pp.62-64). I used one 2 oz. ball of Jaggerspun Zephyr 2/18 laceweight yarn (50% wool/50% tussah silk) in the coral colorway and US 4 (3.5mm) Addi-turbo needles. My final dimensions after blocking were 64" x 30" (published dimensions were 61" x 28").

The finished Coral Lace Shawl is very light and airy. You would hardly know you had it on it's so light! I think if I were to knit this again I would go down a needle size as I think the YO holes are a bit too large. The simple leaf motif and bottom-up construction would make this a wonderful 1st shawl pattern for someone wanting to venture into lace knitting. It would be just as wonderful knit from a fingering or DK weight yarn too, for those not quite ready to try their hand with the skinny stuff.

The next shawl up for the swish and stretch treatment was the Hanami Stole. Knitting this stole was challenging because of the fine silk yarn I chose and blocking proved to be equally as challenging. Threading the blocking wires proved to be difficult as I had no eyelet row separating the body of the stole from the edging. Even though I picked up very small bites, the finished stole ended up having a lacy loopy look to the edges. The looseness of the edge was exacerbated by the fact that I did not employ a slip stitch on the 1st stitch of each row. I usually knit the 1st stitch on garter band so as to maximize the stretch of the final shawl and it works well with stretchy fibers. With silk...not so much. Ah, another lesson learned.

So here's the scoop on this shawl: The pattern is the Hanami Stole by Melanie Gibbons of Pink Lemon Twist. It was knit out of 2 strands of 2/28 smooth silk in the Melissa green colorway from using US 2 (3.0mm) KnitPicks Classic Circular needles. I knew this yarn was much finer than the Alpaca Cloud used by the designer and that I would need to add extra repeats to make sure my stole was long enough. Her final dimensions were 19" x 70". Mine turned out to be 19" x 58"-- a little short despite the extra repeats of the basketweave section plus a bunch of extra rows I added after the transition chart.

After blocking I could see that length wasn't the only "special feature" of my silk Hanami. The final ruffle never did ruffle with this fiber. The center portion of the stole, which is stockinette with very few eyelets, wants to curl at the edges already. Not that I'm surprised-- you should have seen the whole stole curled in from end to end before it's swish and stretch session. It looked more like a stalk of celery than a lace stole! The bottom line: A lovely lace stole pattern, not my favorite mind you, but still a good knit. One thing is for sure-- next time I'll stick to merino or baby alpaca when knitting this stole and save the silk for something else. Live and learn >:-(

P.S. I'll upload more photos to my Flickr site tomorrow

No comments: