Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The story of a shawl

I have very little currently on the needles.

I've also had very little knitting time lately.

My biggest project of late has been working on an heirloom shawl for the second baby of one of my dearest friends.... to be born any minute now. Technically she commissioned me to do it, but it was very much a work of love nonetheless. I used a vintage pattern from a Patons book that my Mother in Law has, and used Naturally Haven 4ply in cream. The pattern called for 8 balls - although it called for a 3ply wool instead of 4ply. I bought two balls originally, to do swatches and test knits - then bought a pack of 10 balls. I figured that should be plenty.

I did swatches - two, actually, because my first one didn't work out to gauge. And as I knew I'd have plenty of wool, I recrafted my first swatch into something else - a little clutch bag as a present for a 5 year old daughter of a friend of mine. For that, I did a trim with some Peter Pan 4ply acrylic that I've had sitting in the stash for nearly as long as I've been knitting, and embellished it with little girly things that I could find. It was also my first time lining a bag... and while it's not a brilliant job, it did the trick.

Bag for Florence

Bag for Florence02

Then I started knitting the shawl. The body of it is garter stitch, which works for me as I try to always have at least one 'mindless' project on the go, so that I can multitask. The shawl worked well for this, although not as portable as other projects due to it's expanding size and it's colour.


And slowly, the shawl grew.


Until finally the garter stitch part was finished - all 29 inches long of it.


Then came the lace part. I'd been secretly quite wary of it - I'm not an expert lace knitter, and my brief forays into lace previously had taught me that I don't often have the patience for it. I like projects that move quickly and show lots of progress - lace does neither. Plus it's much harder to 'fudge' any mistakes in lace. But lace is what makes an heirloom shawl, so it had to be done.

Once I started knitting it, however, I realised it wasn't nearly as bad as I'd worried about. Sure, every side when I picked up the stitches I had to do it two or three times before getting it 'right', but that's mostly because it's hard to get 108 stiches evenly distributed among 160 stitches. And I certainly had my moments of 'tink'ing (backwards knitting) where my count / pattern had gotten off as well.

Once I started the last side, I was about to start my last ball of wool, and realised that there was no way I could do the lace edging AND the border on top of that as well. I tried three different yarn shops and all told me that Haven 4ply in cream was sold out - let alone the specific batch number I needed. Finally it was decided that the border would be left off entirely - I thought the shawl looked good as is, and wasn't worried about it being too small.

I needn't have worried. When I went to bathe / block the shawl, once it was wet, I stretched it out on our bed to dry. On our queen size bed. And was amazed at the sheer size of it.


Finally - with my recipient now 38 weeks pregnant - I couried it off to it's new home. Apparently she's quite pleased with it - she sent this picture of it awaiting the new arrival:

Shawl at it's home


Kelly said...

It is so very gorgeous M! Well done!

Princess LadyBug said...

Both the shawl and the little purse are lovely and well done.

Flea said...

Oh M, it's stunning - Well done.

sweetp said...

It beautiful, well done

Liz said...

Just amazing! I am in awe!

Rebecca said...

We LOVE it Margo!!!!!!

Thank you soooo much for taking the time to make it for us.

Annnd did you know that it is magic??? It makes her sleep and sleep.


Luff ya!


Drew said...

Cool shawl bro.