Sunday, January 13, 2008

Back to Lace

It's shawl weather in Chicago, and it has me thinking about lace again. I remembered that I had an almost-finished Swallowtail shawl (this is the one that I made for my daughter's host mom from Cyprus) of Noro Kureyon from last year. I started it as a gift to a manager at my old store, but never loved it. The yarn seems itchy and harsh to the hand, and I wasn't crazy about the way the pattern looked in this yarn. I resurrected it from the wicker laundry basket where I keep my yarn, and over breakfast, ripped back a few rows and put it, fairly painlessly, onto a size 10 circular needle.
Painlessly is the operative word here, because it shows how much I've learned since my first shawl. I didn't panic, didn't worry about whether I would be able to figure out where in the pattern I was. I was pretty sure that if I couldn't figure it out, I could wing it: an extra picked-up stitch for a yarnover or one less stitch in a knit-two-together, and who would know? This is one of the unspoken secrets of lace knitting: if your count is off and you have one stitch where there should be two, for a right or left leaning decrease, NO ONE will know. They'll be focusing on the overall beauty, or the "it's so swirly" quality, as a friend in my yoga program describes my Shetland Triangle shawl.

I was surprised that I'd made no notes on this project. I'm not a diligent record keeper. But most of the time, I manage to staple the band from the ball of yarn, with product info, into my notebook, along with notes on the name of the pattern, the needle(s) used, gauge called for, where I bought the pattern and yarn, and notes, after completing the knitting, of what I would do different or the same the next time around. I think that I disliked the yarn enough that I didn't even note the needle size. However, one of my knitting teachers told me, a few months ago, that Noro Kureyon softens a lot when you wash it, and that's what I'm hoping for. No one needs a hair shirt shawl.

Much, much softer here: Handmaiden Lady Godiva (honest, that's the name of this yarn).

It was a pricey purchase and I haven't figured out what to do with it. Actually, this is what had me thinking about lace again. It's a blend of silk and wool. A worsted weight yarn, which is not traditional for lace, but I was looking for something that would give some fairly quick gratification in knitting time and would give me a second shawl to wear through the January and February cold.

Close-up of the Medallion lace pattern.
Hmm, not quite right; seems a bit heavy. Maybe a needle bigger than a size 10? And there's much less color variation that I'd expected to have. I've been craving a Handmaiden yarn for months, but somehow, I was drawn to the red color and didn't notice that this colorway is much more homogeneous than the other color choices. I'll keep playing. And suggestions are welcome. I have two skeins, which is about 500 yards of yarn.

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