I took part in my first knit-a-long… and finished on time! So naturally I procrastinated for a couple of weeks before writing about it. Well, it simply wouldn’t do to raise anyone’s expectations about me being efficient or anything, would it?
I heard about the KAL from Mollie&Claire (she had me at the words “This is going to be a seriously unstressful KAL”!), and up to eight weeks to complete a shawl seemed a reasonable target. I’ve tried my hand at some simple lace knitting before, specifically the Rosalie shawl that I knitted in some lovely but quite itchy Noro yarn, but this was my first try with a large shawl with an all over pattern. With the Rosalie shawl I chose the yarn for how it looked rather than how it felt against my notoriously sensitive skin (everything makes me itch – it’s so frustrating!) but this time I was going to choose I yarn that didn’t make me want to rip my skin off.
My tendency to hoard yarn is bordering on the pathological, so I forced myself to raid my stash for the necessary yarn instead of using my usual who-do-you-think-you’re-kidding trick of carefully choosing just the right yarn online for a bargain price… and then spending however much more I need to qualify for free delivery. I suspect this is how hoards worthy of their own documentary crews get started, but I digress.
On every trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace I am helplessly drawn to the fabled mountains of discount yarn at the Black Sheep Wools stall, and last time I found a 500g pack of Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK in the colourway Mango Presse for just £25! It was a gloriously impractical purchase of a hand wash yarn in a (discontinued) shade I wouldn’t normally choose in a quantity that wouldn’t be sufficient to make a garment… but it was so soft!
So of course I bought it, figuring the right project for it would come along sooner or later, and six months later it did!
I am now officially a huge fan of this yarn, which, thankfully, is still available in lots of other shades. It is beautifully soft without being too fluffy and ticklish on my ridiculous skin, it blocks beautifully and has amazing stitch definition to show off the details in lace knitting.
Which brings me to the pattern itself, the Lace Leaf Shawl by Mary Henderson, available to buy as a download from Ravelry. I was skeptical at first that I would every be able to memorise the 8 row repeat well enough to do without the pattern in front of me at all times, but I did get the hang of it quite quickly. I did find that as tempting as it might be to take your fancy-pants lace knitting along to a knitting group, this is a Very Bad Idea Indeed. I only made that mistake once, and I spent the whole 45 minute bus ride home ripping it back to a point where I knew what the hell was going on. It was irksome. I was irked.
Fortunately, as long as I wasn’t expected to take part in any conversations involving more than one other person, I was able to progress pleasingly quickly, and I knitted most of the shawl with the telly on without losing track of plots or patterns. I got in a bit of a muddle once and didn’t notice my mistake for a few rows but I was utterly triumphant when I managed to fix it without ripping it back. (Yes, I mentioned this in a previous post, but honestly I felt so awesome when I sorted out the problem that I’m probably still going to be doing victory laps of the living room at the mere memory of it for years to come.)
I did perhaps get a bit carried away with my own sense of achievement, and if you’ve clicked through to the pattern’s Ravelry page or seen any of the other shawls knitted to this beautiful pattern, you’ll see what I mean.
No? You don’t see it? Well, ignore the rest of this post!
Urgh, I suppose now I’ve drawn attention to it I’ll have to tell you.
My bottom isn’t delicate and frilly. 😦
The pattern gives two ways to cast off the edge; one seemed to be a Russian bind off (which I’m not that fond of) and the other just required a standard bind off with larger needles, so that’s the one I went with. What I neglected to do was the row of extra increases necessary to provide the scalloped edge at the bottom, because I didn’t really think about it and assumed that part was only for if you were using the Russian bind off. I’d already started blocking the shawl before I realised my mistake, and by then it was too late.
Actually I quite like the straight edge, but my inner Gollum mutters darkly that I didn’t do it properly. I like the pattern enough that I will probably knit another one at some point, and do it properly!
I’d quite like to do one in aran weight cotton, so it would be all thick, heavy and substantial. I could get away with doing just the regular size (9 pattern repeats) instead of the large (16 repeats), and knitting it in cotton would make it easier to wash and guaranteed not to aggravate my skin.
Not that I’m anything less than delighted with the results of using the Sublime yarn, and despite making the largest size, I still have enough left to make a second shawl!
I’ll probably save the other 5 balls for something else, although it definitely won’t be anything for my little sister. When I showed her the shawl as a WIP she informed me that the colour was the one she detested the most. Oh well, no chance she’ll make off with my lovely new shawl then!
I’m plodding along with my other WIPS, but I’m seriously lacking in energy these days. Having said that, I did manage to traipse around Ikea with Mr BAM yesterday (no joke when I’m over 6 months pregnant) and we bought the baby’s cot, and hopefully we will soon have a new flat and a room for the baby!
But first, I think it’s time for another little lie down…