I've never been quite sure what this line from Eliot is saying. Is it 'oh swallow swallow' as in 'oh name-of-bird name-of-bird'? Or is he addressing the swallow with an imperative as in 'oh name-of-bird order-to-do-something'? Or even 'oh order-to-do-something name-of-bird'? If only it were written in Latin, this would all be clear.
Regardless, my Swallowtail Shawl - gulp - I finished it.
The Vital Statistics
Pattern: The Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark Designs.
Size: I did 19 repeats of the budding lace pattern and three tiers of the lily of the valley border (the pattern only calls for 14 repeats and 2 tiers respectively). My finished shawl measures 146 centimetres wide and 64 centimetres deep (57.5 inches x 25.2 inches).
Yarn: This is yarn that I bought at the Lake City Way Value Village here in Seattle. There were six balls of it, white, the only brand markings being 'All Wool Hand Knitting Yarn'. I dyed it with the help of my friend Valerie of Actual Size Creations - thank you! I joined three balls together to make one hank and dyed it like that - turns out that the middle ball took the dye differently which has produced an interesting colour variation. It's not a fault, it's a design feature.
I figured that it was laceweight but after recently inspecting some 2 ply at a yarn store I am leaning more towards calling it cobweb weight.
Needles: 3.5mm Addi Lace
Start to finish: 21 November 2008 to 23 March 2009. Only four months! It has taken me longer than that to knit a pair of socks! I'm very pleased with this timeframe, especially considering that there was quite a knitting pause in there while I got over my initial nupp shock.
Comments: Where to start? This is a lovely pattern but I found that the charts in the downloadable pdf version were badly laid out. I actually ended up cutting them out and rearranging them and sticking them down so that I could follow them. Nevertheless, when I went back to the charts after a few week's break, it took me a good half hour to understand them again.
This was my first real lace knitting project. I have done lacey knitting before but never to this scale and complexity. I don't think that a triangular shawl was actually a good place to start, the stitch increase each row just gives you one more thing to think about. I think the clue to keeping track of it all is to work out a method for recording where you are - with the use of markers, ticking row counts off on a list - and be rigorous about it. And count! It's easy on the non-patterned rows to just happily purl along but it is essential to count that there is the correct number of stitches in each repeat.
And the nupps- basically the nupps sucked. Yes, I got the hang of them but I certainly did not find them pleasant knitting. In future where nupps are called for I would consider making a bobble - same effect, less stress.
I was also saved, a number of times, by using a lifeline. I took a long piece of sock wool and, at the end of a repeat, threaded it through the stitches on the needle. I then continued to knit, leaving that length of sock yarn in place. This saves your life (or at least your lace) in the event that you discover a mistake and have to rip the knitting back. With yarn this fine and so many stitches, at a certain point to unknit is quite unbearable and if you rip back without something to secure the stitches at some point, you may well find yourself back at your cast-on edge. The lacey fabric is too wispy to hold its shape and it is very difficult to successfully pick up live stitches.
Verdict: While I hesitate to say that the shawl is perfect, I am very proud to say that the shawl is mistake free. There are no sneaky knit-2-togethers to deal with an extra stitch, or surreptitious make-ones when I fell a stitch short. I am absolutely delighted to have achieved one of my knitting aspirations. To knit lace is why I started knitting in the first place. So while the shawl itself only took me four months to knit, it has been about six years in the making.
I'm glad that I started doing this knitting thing. I may just stick with it.