Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summertime Knitting

Since I haven't been exactly diligent in keeping my blog up to date I thought I'd start back with a progress report (or two) on what I've been doing the past 3 or so months. First I must tell you what I haven't been doing as much of....gardening. The workload is getting to be more than this old girl can handle. I did turn the big Five-0 in June you know and I guess my age is starting to show along with the limitations of fibromyalgia. I still adore flowers though so my answer is flowering trees, shrubs, bulbs, and perennials. I think this Forever Pink hydrangea is stunning, yet it requires very little care at all. That's a plant I can dig!

On the knitting front, it's been a super lacy summer. Things started out last spring when I started knitting this gorgeous shawl as a part of the Spring KAL for the Lace Knitters group that meets at my LYS, The Yarn Haven. Each person chose a project from the recently published Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush. KLE is an awesome book and this shawl, the Lilac Leaf Shawl, was perhaps my favorite design in the book. I love the leaf lace pattern and have knit it in a number of different projects, but when combined with the restrained addition of nupps (a type of cluster stitch that is characteristic of Estonian Lace) in a diamond border, it's a real winner. I knit my shawl using a luscious shade of a soft purpley pink alpaca & silk lace yarn (Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace) and US 5/3.75mm needles. I used a generous needle size for the yarn because this design was meant to be very open and airy. The finished shawl used ~1.5 balls of yarn and measured 20" x 66" which is just perfect. Everything about this shawl was a two thumbs up for me. WooHoo!

Braced by the positive experience of knitting the Lilac Leaf Shawl I next turned to a long-time WIP that had been hibernating in a basket for a seriously long time - Evelyn Clark's infamous Swallowtail Shawl. Zillions of knitters made this shawl, including many who had never knit lace before...or since for that matter. The original pattern was little more than a generous scarf with a pretty edging, but I wanted more. I wanted a big shawl...a BIG shawl. Why? Because I had discovered that the few little shawls sat in my closet and never got worn. Oh, OK. So I added many extra repeats to the top portion of the shawl, like 10 extra to be exact. The pattern called for 14 reps. The design demanded extra reps be added in groups of 5, but one set (19 reps total) wasn't big enough so I stuck it out (BORING) until I had 24 reps total.

I was already weary by this time, but when I hit the Lily of the Valley edging I kinda lost my love for the project. Knitting nupps was a huge pain in the you-know-what. Ugh. And so the shawl sat for more than a year while I found it in my heart to forgive it for being a pain and finish. I found a few helpful tricks for knitting good nupps and pushed my way through. The completed shawl used only one 2oz. ball of white Jaggerspun Zephyr, was knit on US 2.5/3.0mm needles (tiny!), and measured 30" x 60". So, after all that the shawl is a nice size, but it still isn't big. It is pretty though and I'm glad I stuck it out.

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