Friday, October 12, 2007

The End of the "Never Again" Shawl!

Last April I asked my sister what she wanted for her birthday in May. She said she wanted a shawl like the one I made for our other sister last year. When I agreed to do it little did I realize that I would be embarking on a freaking SIX MONTH project! This WIP (work-in-progress) took on a life of its own, traveling to Europe, taking trains, buses, and airplanes and sharing lattes and cappuccinos with me...don't worry I washed off the the evidence. It went to Boston twice, once on the train and once on the bus, accompanied me to Central New York State in July for my family reunion, took two trips to Burlington VT as I got Meredith set up in her apartment and took her back to school in August, celebrated our anniversary with us on a day trip downeast for a leisurely day in the sun and a great seaside lunch and went to work with me each day as I spent a few minutes at lunchtime adding a row or two. It also went to knitting group with me each week and was my TV buddy most nights.

Last Friday I FINALLY finished the last stitch in the car on our annual fall foliage trip somewhere between Fryeburg and Brownfield, Maine. My husband said he was getting tired of seeing me working on the shawl. I think what he was REALLY saying was that he was getting impatient for me to finish the socks I started for him last March.

Ok, so here is a brief pictorial history of the project.

Here is the shawl as it looked on July 13th:

Summer heat took its toll on my efforts. Some days it was just too damn hot to think about wrapping yarn around my fingers so progress was slow during July and August and even into September. With cooler weather, my speed increased. Here is a picture from the end of July:

And here it is in late September:

At this point the image of an albatross kept crossing my mind. I wanted nothing more than to just finish and move on. Each day I did a few more rows and measured to see how much longer it needed to be. I cut the fringe and had it ready for the final step and followed my pattern. (More on that in a bit...)

After the final row, it was time to wash the shawl. Six months of handling had left it a tad funky. I zipped it into a pillowcase and washed it in cold using the gentle cycle. Here it is drying:

So now for the unveiling...drumroll please!.... TA-DA!!!!

It is sooooo soft and cuddly. If I hadn't just put six months into this gift I would be tempted to keep it for myself.

But I'm already five months late for her birthday so off it goes in the mail tomorrow. I'll enclose some care instructions and a stern admonition to KEEP IT AWAY FROM HER F-ing CAT! If I hear that I just spent six months constructing a fancy scratching post for her she-cat from hell, I will hunt the critter down and personally drop her off myself at Uncle Wong's Chow Mein palace in time for the all-you-can-eat buffet! (Have I ever mentioned that I don't like cats?)

About the pattern... there really isn't one. This was a completely self-designed project. I used a fingering weight yarn I found on ebay. It is a blend of merino wool (45%) cotton (40%) and silk (15%) that came on a cone. I used #9 24" circular needles and about 12 ounces of the yarn (about 1.5 cones).

I cast on 169 stitches. The first and last 20 stitches were always knit into the back and the first stitch was always slipped as if to knit. That formed a garter stitch edge that made a nice shawl collar when it was done. The middle 129 stitches were knit in a variety of stitches I took from the 365 Knitting Stitches a Year Perpetual Calendar. I divided that center section into three individual sections of 43 stitches apiece, separated by stitch markers and found 18 stitches that could be worked on 43 stitches. I did eight rows of each stitch, separated by eight rows of either garter or stockinette stitch. At the mid-point (3 feet) I reversed the order to make the shawl symmetrical. Some of the stitches I used were: Staggered Eyelets, Little Arrowhead, Open Twisted Rib, Lacy Zigzag, Pique Rib, Hourglass eyelets, Lacy Diamonds, Slipped Rib2, Double Basketweave, Feather Lace, Garter Drop Stitch, Herringbone Lace Rib, Ridged Lace1, Crocus Buds, Lacy Rib, Zigzag Openwork, and Simple Lace Rib. I started and ended the shawl with five rows of garter stitch which provided an area to insert the fringe. I cut 432 12" lengths of the yarn which I separated into 36 bundles of 12 putting 18 at each end, spacing them equally along the edge and then trimming them to ensure they were even.

The finished length was six feet plus the fringe and the width was about 36".

I'm pleased with the result with a few little exceptions... the stitch markers left a kind of "run" down the length of the shawl, not a major flaw but more of a "personalization." I really hope my sister likes it and gets a lot of good use out of it! She had better or I'll kill her! (just kidding...sort of!)

1 comment:


LOL - Oh Mary Ann - You and I have the same affliction with cats. Tom wanted to get a cat this last week due to an over population of mice in the neighborhood - and all I could think of was "What if the freakin critter touched my yarn" No way -no how!
Your 6 months of work has paid off! The shawl is beautiful and I am in awe of your stick-to-it finish the project no matter what attitude. Lace and I do not belong together