Friday, January 7, 2011

Goal post

After the panic over my first steps toward my spinning wheel goal for this year, I cast an admiring look at my copy of The Haapsalu Shawl, the book on Estonian lace shawls that inspired what I thought was the Really Scary Goal. (I am thinking now I got the two goals reversed.)

You know how sometimes you don't bother to read the directions?

I got this book about a year ago and devoured all the writing in it, but somehow didn't pay attention to the technicalities.

Ravelry sees this book as a stitch dictionary, so you can't link to patterns from it unless you piggyback on one that's already posted. In fact it's very much a Build It Yourself version of a pattern book. The 'pattern' is in the front, and then a bunch of stitch choices to plug into said pattern are in the back.

What I learned before I went looking for the plug-in stitch of my choice, that I didn't clue into before:

These shawls are traditionally knit in off-white wool, so right off the bat I'm off authenticity with hand-dyed cashmere/alpaca/silk. You may or may not know that all three of those fibers are a bit light on the whole elasticity thing. Which doesn't make them a bad choice for lace, unless you're doing something fussy like, say, nupps.

I'm pretty sure that the version of bobbles I've been knitting - I follow the directions but they come out much flatter than everybody else's - are a close cousin of nupps. For that reason, and because I haven't yet tried an actual nupp, I am confident I can pull that off. I do however suspect it's easier to make nice ones that don't require hair loss if you're using a yarn with elasticity.

When making an Estonian shawl of this kind you don't just knit a rectangle in pretty lace and say Voila! In fact, you add in a garter stitch border, and when you're done that, you cast on 8 million and 43 stitches twice for two different lace borders that you later sew onto the lace rectangle by hand. And then you block it. Preferably on a special frame. Good luck with that in my house, Estonian lace shawl.

After learning all that I was onto the bigger question: which lace stitch would I used for the center panel?

Looking over the gorgeous pictures again I realized that these shawls tend to look formal, and that I'd have to choose carefully a pattern that I can pull off with one of my weird skirts so I actually use it.

Also, one that wouldn't be impossible to follow the chart for.

Also, one that doesn't have too many nupps. But not one with no nupps, because that would be cheating, the point of most Haapsalu shawl stitches being nupps. Basically if I could pick my way past the most beautiful stitches and their 10 nupps per inch I would be happy, and if it didn't look too conservative that would be icing on the laceweight cake.

You can guess what I thought when I flipped to this page:

Plus, do you see there that it's called Lightning? And my yarn's colourway is called Sea Storm. Done and done.

Next on my list: math, and the swatch, not necessarily in that order.


Kate/Massachusetts said...

This one might interst you! Her patterns are beautiful.

Mary Keenan said...

Wowza, they sure are! I found this one on Ravelry too under 'snowdrift', if anybody can't work the link Kate gave.

heklica said...

Good luck, it sure sounds scary! :)