Friday, December 6, 2013

Joining the Shawl Bandwagon with a Bit of Christmas Knitting

I never thought I would become a shawl knitter for a few reasons: 

1. I do not wear shawls or scarves other than the traditional outdoors winter scarf.
2. Up until recently I never thought I would have the patience or attention span to knit anything larger than a baby project or a stuffed toyed.......and....
3. They intimidated the hell out of me with all their fancy lace and cob-web/lace weight yarns! 

Back in May when I picked up my needles after a 3-4 year knitting funk I told myself I would be more adventurous when picking projects and expand my knitting skills. I have now conquered mittens, socks, a sweater, and dappled in lace work. I am feeling a lot more confident in my knitting skills and know that I do have the patience for larger projects. The time felt right to give shawl knitting a go, especially since a friend’s birthday was approaching I decided that for her birthday I wanted to knit her a nice scarf or shawl she could wear to work, thus my Lonely Tree Shawl was born (see previous post for details).

 I have decided I enjoy shawl knitting much better then knitting scarves. There is just something about the triangular shape that I enjoy knitting. I also find that the project seems to go faster. You can see it growing more easily than you for on your traditional scarf. 

After my Lonely Tree Shawl I cast on the Jade Cashmere One Skein Shawl by Michelle Miller (aka Fickleknitter) after seeing it knit up at the New England Wool Festival in Springfield, Massachusetts (I recommend those of you in the area to check out this festival! It was a lot of fun). Holiday Yarn's had a booth there with this shawl on displace and it was just gorgeous! So gorgeous that I visited their booth several times just to ponder over the shawl and then downloaded the pattern on our lunch break. The pattern calls for one skein of lace weight yarn however I did go with a fingering weight, I have yet to work up the courage to try lace weight yarn but it is on my list of things to conquer.  The yarn I picked is from Nightingale Fibers in their Eddie base which is a 50/50 merino silk blend in the colorway ‘Pink Knockout’ and it reminds me of cherries and raspberries. This was one of the two skeins of yarn I purchased at the festival, the minute I saw it hanging up in its booth there was no doubt in my mind that it would become the Jade Cashmere Shawl. I have never had a pattern/yarn combo ‘speak’ to me so forcefully from the start. I know those of you who are not knitters are reading this and thinking I am absolutely insane and jave finally fallen off my rocker but I am comforted by the fact that all you knitters out there are nodding your heads in understanding and thinking about a similar experience you yourself have had.

 This shawl knits up fast and has a pretty basic repeat which is easy to memorize, it is both charted and written out for you.  The one complaint I have about the pattern is that the type of increased used differ between the two.  The chart uses only K2TOG's for increases and the written instructions call for k2TOG's and SSK's. I did manage to edit my chart to reflect the two different increases by using Adobe reader app on the iPad, if you hold done on the screen you get a ‘freehand’ option which allows you to draw on the file, so I used it to box the chart increases that should have been SSK’s according to the written instructions. It worked out great and I flew through the body of the chart. It consists of 5 chart repeats, each evening I tried to knit at least a full or half of a repeat until all 5 were complete. So I had most of the body done in a week before I took a week long break to do some Christmas knitting. I picked it back up last weekend finished the body Saturday night and just have the edging to complete, which I hope to accomplish this weekend. Here is a picture of the shawl after the first couple repeats. I will have a full picture once I finish the edging.

During that week long break I worked on a Christmas shawl for my mother. She loved the Lonely Tree Shawl (LTS) and asked if I could knit her one. I spent about a month and a half knitting my last LTS so I wanted to get started ASAP incase it took that long again. Luckily (and surprisingly) I finished my mother's in 3 evenings! That's right! Just 3 evenings! I really enjoyed this pattern the second time around, in fact I enjoyed it a lot better than the first time I knitted it. It might just be a ‘go to’ project now for when I have gifts to make. What I really love about this shawl is that it’s really cute and looks very elegant. It just looks impressive when complete. 

Since I was still a bit wary about knitting a shawl my first LTS was made with some Knitpicks yarn I had in my stash, this time around I splurged and used some GnomeAcres yarn. Surprise, Surprise, I know right? I just can’t help myself I am soooo in love with Amanda’s yarn. It’s soft and squishy and so easy to knit with. I think half of my stash is made up of her yarn. I can’t take all the blame though for the yarn choice, to be fair I let my mother go through all of my ‘good’ stash and pick a color out she liked that would match her work outfits, it was going to be worn by her after all. It’s not my fault that she passed by my Highland Handmade or Socks that Rock hanks, is it? Her eye was caught by the lovely yellow and browns of Amanda’s Butterbeer colorway so I put in an order for her Squishy gnome base. To be honest I wasn't really sure if the color would be a good match for the pattern but once again I was proven wrong, it shows the leaves off nicely and makes for a nice Autumn/fall shawl. It will look perfect with a brown top or jacket/blazer. I used just over one skein and have most of a second skein left which I think might become a pair of slippers or mittens. Here is a finished picture of the shawl. I don’t think my mother even knows this blog exists so I am pretty sure it is safe to show it off here.  I haven't blocked the shawl yet but will once I am down with the Jade shawl. 

Hopefully I will have some more pictures and more FO's to show off in the next couple weeks. My fingers are busy knitting away making some Christmas ornaments to gift away this season. I also just cast on a pair of socks for my boyfriend at his request. We will see if he actually wears them this time. Lucky for me his feet are similar in size to mine just a little bit longer. If I don't get to blogging before the holidays I hope everyone has a safe and joyful one!

No comments: