Monday, April 25, 2011

The lure of the mystery knitalong

I have been obsessed with shawl knitting all weekend, and it's all hert's fault for suggesting I join her in Liz Abinante's Roxanne mystery shawl knitalong.  Good timing for stressed-out me though - when you're knitting something without pictures to see how it's meant to come out, and several new-to-you stitches are combined in different sections, you really have to focus. Be in the moment, as it were.

Admittedly an awful lot of the early moments involved deciding which yarn to use.  Since I decided spontaneously to participate I decided too to just use the first yarn I put my hand on that also had the right yardage.  That paired me with this blue farmspun wool given me by a friend who'd bought it on holiday and never knit with it:

The photograph isn't out of focus - it's the yarn.  It's a bit thick and thin, has a bit of a halo, and its heathery colours blend or stand out a lot like the ones in an Impressionist painting you view from afar and then near.  Not so fab for showing off a lace pattern.

Also, I had to fight the yarn for every stitch. It's so tightly spun that in spite of being wool it has absolutely no give, which is less than ideal for patterns that involve picking up between stitches or knitting into the front and back of a stitch.  In considering whether to reject this attempt I considered what on earth it would be good for instead; socks probably, if it weren't just so scratchy.  Maybe weaving?

It was the realization that shawls starting out from the neck go on for miles once you get about halfway through that made me set the blue-green start aside and dig out some alpaca in a nice soothing colour I hoped would reveal the lace a little better.

Having already worked through the thrill of starting something new, I realized much more quickly that the halo on the alpaca was going to obscure the shawl stitches even more effectively.  Also: not so much more give in alpaca than in overspun wool, and


am I seriously going to wear this colour next to my face?

Back to the drawing board.

Everybody else seems to be using sock yarn, of which I have a lot.  Sadly only one skein offers sufficient yardage: this club colourway of Super Bambou from Biscotte et Cie, a blend of wool with bamboo and nylon.  I adore this colour and was hoarding it for socks.  Also I'm not 100% sure this particular shade is the very best green to be wrapping around my neck.   I was however 100% sure I didn't want to wait to get to a yarn store to get started on this knitalong.

Because (and here is the real lure of the mystery knitalong):

A shawl is a big project.  I can talk myself out of knitting a shawl in no time just looking at how big.  But a shawl with instructions released in installments seems manageable.  By the time each row is so long you're starting to spend 10+ minutes on each one, you're invested.

I'm invested almost to the end of Clue #2 (10 rows to go) but in case you want to join in I'll wait till Clue #3 is released to post a spoiler picture.  Or if you're thinking about joining in, are a Raveler, and want to see how the shawl looks before committing, check out this photo thread.

(lure, lure, lure, heh.)

1 comment:

Kathleen Taylor said...

I can't wait to see the mystery shawl develop.

My trick for dealing with lace and non-elastic yarn, is to use even bigger needles than the pattern calls for. Of course, that means that you use more yardage than the pattern says too, which can cause problems.

I'd join in on this one, but I'm designing and knitting a wedding shawl for my future Daughter in Law, and there's a deadline (July). And I've already joined a fall shawl KAL. I guess I have lace on the mind.