20 May 2006

FO: Peacock Feathers Shawl...

Pattern: Peacock Feathers from Fiddlesticksknitting.com
Start/finish: End of March 2006-12 May, 2006
Yarn: Superfine Merino in Peacock, approx. 800yds/730m
Yarn and pattern source: Theknitter.com--they have great service and free shipping, btw.
Needles: 24in/60cm Inox aluminum circs size US3/3.25mm; 3mm crochet hook (I don't think there's a US size equivalent)
Mods: Used one needle size smaller than called for; yarn substitution; smaller finished size.

In the pattern, the wingspan of the shawl is supposed to measure over 80 inches, which is huge. Being as short as I am, I really didn't think I could carry that. I also didn't like how "airy" the shawl looked in the pictures so I used a smaller needle size. I think this worked out really well. The motifs look much more defined, which is what I generally prefer with lace, and it's just the right size for me.

Unblocked, the shawl measured about 55 inches from tip to tip...

And after the magic of blocking...

It grew almost ten inches!

Since I don't really have any surface large enough to block on (I do like sleeping in my bed), I completely soaked it and pinned it out just to get it into the general shape and size. When it was almost dry, and almost time for me to go to sleep, I took out my trusty new toy--a travel steam iron. I steamed ironed the crocheted loop edging and lightly steamed the rest of the shawl. Then I draped it on my clothes drying rack to finish drying. Normally I like to do full wet-blocking the whole way but this was the next best thing.

Things I learned:

  • How to use a crochet hook. Before this, I only owned two crochet hooks: a size G hook from the early days of serious knitting to fix dropped stitches and a 2.5mm hook to fix dropped stitches when I started knitting a lot in finer gauges. I had never made a crochet chain of any kind, and when I got to the crocheted loop bind off I was at a bit of a loss. Thankfully the pattern came with clear, illustrated instructions on how to work the bind off. Only problem was the photos showed the person holding the hook in the right hand and the yarn in the left hand. I tried it this way, absolution could not work the chains with the yarn in my left hand, and ended up working the BO with both the hook and yarn in my right hand. I also found it awkward to hold the hook in my right hand although the yarn in my right hand felt fine. In short, I think I might be a left-handed crocheter...well, should I ever pick up crochet.

  • Reading my knitting. This isn't something new but it's a skill that I definitely improved on while making this shawl. One weird knitting quirk of mine is I have trouble using lifelines. Not really sure why. I mean, they're supposed to be helpful and I'm pretty sure my life would be so much easier if I used them. But something always goes wrong when I try to insert a lifeline into my knitting. As a result, I've become pretty good at frogging back and picking up live stiches after doing it so many times. Anyway, I really didn't want to frog back to fix mistakes when the shawl got pretty big so I took my small crochet hook and would drop a stitch or two in order to fix mistakes. This is kind of a headache with lace--you really need to figure out what that part of the repeat is supposed to look like in stitch form but I somehow got some sort of rhythm going. Thankfully, I would notice my mistakes about one or two rows past it so I didn't have to go down too far and usually they involved dropped YOs.

  • How one row can turn into two sides of a triangle with the center being the point. At first this seemed like magic to me but now I have the general idea. It's only the set-up rows that are still a mystery to me.

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  • 15 May 2006

    Something green...

    I doesn't look like I'll get any green knitting in for this month's project spectrum. I still have orange April on the back burner with some yarn my mom got me from Hong Kong. However, I just realized that my most recent acquisition is (are?) green...

    I meant to get black ones in a similar style, but the green just called to me. Really. They said, "You want us...Buy us...We're on sale..."

    They'll look great with a pair of Lovely Lacy Socks from the spring Interweave. In pink.

    13 May 2006

    Flogging the proverbial horse...

    Episode 23 of Cast-On sums up this past month and a half of knitting pretty well.

    First off is the Peacock Feathers Shawl, which I now call the Shawl Without End.

    I'm on the edging now but it's so big that it takes me 20-30 minutes to work one row. When I went to my knitting group yesterday, I found that during the whole hour and a half I was there, I only finished two rows. A long way from the three stitches I started out with.

    Then there are the Norwegian Stockings.

    I had to completely frog it once because the tension was wonkey--loose in some places and tight in others. I spent a week away from it before restarting. This time my stranding was fine. I just happen to keep running into problems with the heel and foot. Once I *thought* I finally had it right, I realized that the pattern at the top of the foot was off center by one stitch. This one stitch was noticeable enough to me that I had to frog the foot, heel, AND heel flap. I think all these problems should be a sign that these stockings are not meant to be, but I just refuse to give up on them. Even if it drives me crazy.

    Funny thing is, I started the Norwegian Stockings to keep me from going insane while working on Peacock Feathers.

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    04 May 2006

    Norwegian Stockings progress...



    ETA: I've also been really unhappy with the yoked pullover I was making for my dad (and that was *supposed* to be a Christmas gift last winter). I looked through my readily available pattern sources (a.k.a. online and free), and decided on Saranac from Knitty. I'll start frogging and re-knitting after I finish Peacock Feathers and get halfway through another project.