Pattern: Tiger Swallowtail Shawl from Needle Beetle.
Yarn: Approximately 10 skeins of KnitPicks Elegance in Cornflower on size US 7 needles.
• I noted that the original shawl was done in a 100% cotton yarn, but wanted a little less drape and a little more warmth to mine. I intended this shawl to be something light and airy (hence knitting it on somewhat larger needles and at a larger gauge than recommended in the pattern) so I could wear it in warmer weather without melting, but in a warm enough fiber that I could wear it on a cool evening wrapped more tightly around. I couldn't find what I was looking for at my LYS, but a friend of mine had just made a sweater out of the Elegance and I loved the way it felt and wore. Overall, I am immensely satisfied with my choice in yarn, even though I'm not usually a fan of KnitPicks yarns.
Notes: I spent in total about two months on this project. I was a little bit frustrated with it because I could only work on it at home because the charts are so big, and so I had a number of side projects I was working on (mostly socks) simultaneously because I like to have something to do with my hands while I'm riding the bus.
Before starting the shawl, I made a number of test swatches and washed and blocked them and, after careful consideration (where I put them aside for about a week, then brought them out again, hung them on my wall, and compared them) I decided I rather liked how the swatch I completely over-blocked looked. Yes, this is thorough, but I had a photography teacher who used to make us do that with our prints and it's a good habit to get into. When I finally got around to blocking my shawl (several weeks after finishing knitting it, I'm ashamed to say) I blocked the living daylights out of it and it looks spectacular.
Other than choosing a different yarn than was used in the original pattern, I didn't change anything when knitting it up. At first I found all of the purling things together through the back loops to be tedious. Then I made a pair of socks with short-row toes and heels on size US 000 needles. Now I have no complaints whatsoever about doing them on US 7's. I chose not to do the tassels because I'm not a real fan of doing fringes and tassles - they fray easily and often look rather tacky.
I should mention that yes, I was fully aware of the fact that my shawl would be a lot larger than the dimensions given in the pattern. I'm a large lady and need a little extra fabric; also, I really wanted something I could wrap around myself tightly if cold, but could drape over my arms if I was wearing it just for show.
As a final note, I discovered tonight just how versatile my fiber choice was. I'm in a stage production of The Sound of Music at the moment, and the green room (the place backstage where the actors hang out when they're not on stage) is a good 20 degrees below what it is in the house. Given that it's been in the 30's here lately, this is miserable. I lent my shawl to one of the actresses tonight who was freezing in her sleeveless dress and it kept her extremely warm until it was her turn onstage. Yet later after the show ended and we all headed to a reception for the Patrons of the theater I was able to drape it over my already-warm shirt and walk around the hot room without overheating myself.
That said, I'll finish boring you and move onto the photos, as I'm sure that's what most of you head straight to, anyway. Please click on the images, though, as they're links to much bigger photos.
My shawl pre-blocking. At this point, it took up about 2/3 of a queen-size fitted sheet.
A detail shot of the pre-blocked stitchwork, including the colour contrasts between the stockinette and garter sections. This is completely colour accurate, at least on my screen.
Stretched out blocking. It now stretches across the entire queen-size fitted sheet and the oversheet. I didn't quite take this into account when setting up to block and so wound up shoving all of my stuff that had previously had a designated place somewhere against my living room wall. My poor cat was locked in my bedroom the entire time this spent drying, which she was less than pleased about.
Pittsburgh is sadly devoid of natural sunlight due to near-permanent cloud cover (we're surrounded by mountains which keep all of that lovely cloudiness in and block out the
A front shot of me so you can see how nicely it wraps around me when I'm cold. I'm smiling in this picture. Really. You just can't tell because... Look over there! It's a distraction!
Also, a couple of weeks ago I promised somebody pictures of my WIP St. Brigid sweater, but since I can neither remember to whom I promised this or what post the comment was made on, I figured I would just tack it on to the end of my shawl post.
Pattern: Alice Starmore's St. Brigid sweater, from a book that is sadly out of print and very hard to find. I cannot tell you the lengths to which I went to get this pattern.
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza on size 9 needles in a colour not shown on that site. (I assume it's a colour they no longer produce, sadly, as it's beautiful.) It's a blend of dark green, reds, purples, some lime green, and... It's like Octarine in yarn form. (Please tell me somebody gets that.)
Notes: I'm sure I'll have a slew of them once I've finished the whole thing. So far I've gotten the back done and two pattern repeats of the front. I started it on July 4, but have not worked on it very consistently, taking breaks to make another adult sweater, a child's sweater, the second half of my Swallowtail shawl, several socks, a crochet doily, a...
I'm actually a little disappointed in the pattern. I picked it up thinking it might be a fun challenge, but... it's not. Oh, it's fun! But there's nothing whatsoever challenging about it. It's a 22-row repeat for the main cables that I could probably do in my sleep. Ahh, well. I am still enjoying the project immensely, even if it's not the learning experience I'd hoped for. I just pray I don't find myself eating my words when it comes time to sew it all together or something like that. ^_^
The Pastaza sheds like mad. The weird thing is that it's mostly the bright f***ing lime green hairs that shed off, such that I was once boarding an Amtrak train after working on my sweater for a while in the station and the conductor looked at me and asked, "What did you do, dye your cat green?!" Another problem is that it's near impossible to tink back if you've goofed something up, as it insta-felts. I realized at one point that I'd started one of the nine-stitch braided cables two rows early about nine rows down on all four braids and it took me about two hours to fix using the method described here by the Yarn Harlot (which I'm proud to say I "figured out" by myself before I discovered the post she'd made) not because it's at all difficult (it really isn't. It looks daunting but it's in fact quite simple and straightforward) but because the yarn fulled itself together the moment it game within
That's really my only complaint about the yarn, though. I wanted a really rustic homespun look to it the piece, as all of the versions I've found online using more even yarns such as Rowanspun or Clasgens looked far more austere than what I envisioned. I absolutely love how the Pastaza looks, and hope to have it done in time for Christmas as it's such a cheerful Chrismasy green.
The back of my St. Brigid, unblocked, draped over my beloved Barca Lounger. Best $25 I've ever spent at a garage sale, and it's supported me through a great many hours of knitting.
Close-up detail shot of the center cables. I wanted to give you a feel for the beautiful halo of fibers and the rich blend of colours that give my sweater an added depth that I am absolutely in love with.
I hope you've enjoyed my post. I have one question to ask you fine people as well. Apropos my comment on seeming everything together on my St. Brigid and the problem I have with it instantly fulling the moment I've made a stitch, do you have any suggestions for seeming my sweater without the yarn I'm using to do the seaming becoming hopelessly fulled as I go along? I've considered doing it with several shorter lengths of yarn rather than one big long one, but that just seems like more of a hassel than it's likely to be really worth.
Thank you in advance!