Friday, 27 March 2009

oh swallow swallow

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

The Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark Designs.
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 afte
r 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.


Amy said...

It's absolutely stunning! Well done :)

Di said...

oh wow wow :)))
Oh congratulations congratulations.
A HUGE achievement. I'm thrilled for you :)

SewIknit2 said...

I'm knitting my first lace shawl project at the moment and found myself nodding my head at virtually every sentence in your blog post!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your project! and you've inspired me to continue with mine which had taken a back seat this last fortnight!