I had one skein (440 yards) left of Knitpicks Shadow – kettle dyed yarn in Bordeaux… so instead of trying to do another shawl with it, and perhaps come up short, I decided I would try making just a lace scarf.
Some time ago, earlier this summer, I bought a copy of Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush, dreaming of someday learning to make beautiful timeless shawls with delicate scalloped borders… Every now and again I flip through it and drool a bit and admire the lovely lace. I always think someday I want to try making one of the complex square ones, with all of the different lace patterns, pick-up-and-knit borders, and NUPPS galore, and then I remember – Nupps suck, and they take up a ton of yardage to boot. But they look soooooo good. hard to resist. If you love lace, please check out this book! The charts are very clearly written out, and lots of tips, stitch dictionary entries, tutorials, notes and asides. I’m not a very experienced lace knitter, but it was straightforward enough for me to follow for this scarf anyways. (Ask me when I finally decide to attempt Crown Prince…)
In particular, I wanted to make something straightforward. Especially since my lace knitting skill is still on the upswing. I chose ‘Lilac Leaf’ because I had done similar "leafy” style laces before, so there was a comfort zone there. This scarf also held some challenges too:
Whole Row Grafting – argh… I hate even Kitchner stitching 14 stitches together for the end of a toe! For this Scarf, in the interest of perfect symmetry, the first end of the scarf is knit, then the second leaf section, and then a second “end” is knit and grafted (in the middle of a garter stitch bar) to the end of the centre section. I thought it would be a complete nightmare. But I decided to just go for it. I knit both proper pieces as listed in the pattern, grabbed a glass of nice red wine, warned everyone in the house to NOT TALK TO ME until further notice, grabbed a yarn needle and set up shop in the bright light under my Ott lamp. I will admit it was a bit tedious, but the book gave clear concise directions, no-one was brave enough to interrupt me, and within a half an hour the mess was grafted and the ends were tied in. No fuss no Mess. Be brave knitters, try it for yourself, it actually was no big deal. I was freaked for nothing!
Different Slip-stitch at beginning of Row, Cast-on – I know this doesn’t sound like much, but I had never done an edging that started with “Slipping stitch purlways” at the beginning of each row. It makes a really nice almost ‘chained’ edging, and looks awesome when the little picots are blocked. I also liked the casting on double. Of course since you have carried the beginning thread across a whole row, you don’t need to worry about it coming undone. easiest tie in I have done so far. Weave under a few stitches, and cut off. Easy Peasy!
Blocking Rectangular things – Why do I always start with hard things first and gradually migrate back to easy ones? I’ve blocked lots of triangles, but this was my first blocking of a rectangle. honestly, 4 wires, a handful of pins, done. Very satisfying. (Mind you it did still take about an hour to get it done. Maybe I’ll pick up speed sometime? nah doubtful)
Now for the fun part… the finished pictures :)
Blocking really changed the finished appearance of this project. It was really nubbly and bumpy, and really didn’t feel like it was wide enough. I had decreased the cast on from 93 to 71 (5 motifs across), since I didn’t have that much yarn to work with. The piece grew a lot… from about 6-7 inches wide unblocked to 10.5 inches. And the length growth was a bit surprising. I had started with 34 inch wires, thinking that they would be definetly long enough. Think again. I had to double up wires and overlap them. The finished scarf was about 45 inches long. I probably could have blocked more severely and gotten even more length.
And here she is sitting quietly next to the african violet… enjoying bathing in the sun. I really like the way the burgandy red color turned out. The kettle dyeing gave the scarf a little interest without being too variegated. Depending on what you wanted your scarf’s purpose to be, perhaps you might want it to be wider or longer, but as far as value goes… a 4 dollar skein of yarn to make a pretty nice Christmas gift for someone, I was very happy with the end result! Honestly, the person I have in mind for this is a very kind nice person I’ve known for a long time and I wanted to make her something pretty (she wears a lot of burgandy and plum) but I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by buying something expensive or making something really time consuming or costly. With this scarf, It only really took about 10 –15 hours total of knitting, so not that big of a time committment, and 4 bucks is ridiculous for cost. You can’t even buy a soda and a bag of chips for that price.
All in All… happy and ready to cast on something else. Mom helped me to wind my next skeins of lace yarn… and here she is: Knitpicks Shimmer (Alpaca / Silk Blend) in Galaxy. I have 2 skeins (so about 880 yards) and boy is it soffffffttttt. My mom had never handled alpaca yarn before, she couldn’t get over the light texture and extreme softness. I might be a bad influence on her yarn buying… Myself, I just can’t believe the wonderful and different yarns out there. Don’t get me wrong, I try not to be a yarn snob (Red Heart has it’s place) but there are so many different fibers and unique preparations available from different companies and countries…. lately I tend to think of yarn in a similar way that critics think about food. Flavors, textures, vintages. Gosh I love yarn! If I was home, I’d probably go roll around in some but alas, I am at work. The Yarn-Rolling will have to wait until later :)