Jobo Designs

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17. July 2009 08:41
by Jobo

Swallowtail: Before and After

17. July 2009 08:41 by Jobo | 3 Comments

July 16/09 Sometime in the Morning - the BEFORE

I finished the last bit of the Lily of the Valley section quite quickly and breezed through the last two portions.  I decided to follow the "written out" directions for this pattern (mostly because I am not as comfortable reading charts as I would like yet) and really enjoyed this knit from cast on to bind off.  If I had time to work on something like this steadily over a week or so I think I could have finished completely in a week… instead of the month it took me with all the breaks and periods of non-knitting in there. 

Surprisingly I only used one ball of the yarn.  This amazes me completely, because I thought for sure that 4 ounces wouldn’t be enough for any major kind of project.  This entire shawl was completed with TWO ounces of yarn.  Hmmmm something makes me wonder if I am calculating something wrong or missing some important observation to tie this whole thing together. 

Either way, I finished with NO modifications, and it looks to be fairly small laying on the coffee table.  I think this might be deceiving though, because when I stretch it out so that the lace opens up… the thing almost doubles in size.  I think I will be surprised to see how much it will grow during the blocking process. 

In a way I am kind of afraid to do too severe a blocking, which is what I think this shawl might need coincidentally.  Because it is made of singles I have this dread that maybe a thread might drift apart somewhere, or get weak from the stretching and pulling and make a weak spot in the fabric that could open and ravel.  I didn’t find ANY place along the yarn that felt too “loose” on twist, or felt like it might drift… but after all the knitting hours spent on Swallowtail, those things happening sound a bit like a knitting disaster.   

The plan is to soak her this weekend and then gently block her on the spare bed.  I have been trying to get my hands on some stainless steel wire lengths to use as blocking wires this time, but I am not having much luck finding any. For the straight portion along the top and spine of the shawl… I think this time I might try running a thicker string (aka braid or shoelace) between 2 pins to create a kind of wire like line… and see if I like the feeling of it.  The other thing that someone on the Ravelry do-it-yourself knitting tools page suggested was to open up plastic coated wire coat hangers and use those as blocking wires.  I suppose if you used decent quality ones and watched for rusting that this might work out okay too in a pinch. 

The other option would be to just bite the bullet and go out and buy a proper set of blocking wires.  The only thing that erks me about that is the fact that there are no stores around here that sell such a thing, and I’m not sure how ridiculous the shipping would be on a set of 36 inch long wires… maybe I will have to look into it more. 


I had planned on waiting until the weekend to block the finished shawl... but I just  couldn't help myself.  I stayed up a little later than I normally would... gathered the necessary blocking junk and got to work!


July 16/09 Sometime after 11pm - The AFTER

I had originally decided to wait to block this shawl until I had gotten to the metalworks store to buy my new blocking wires.  (1 lb of 36 inch long Stainless Steel Tig wires... approximately 30 pieces... for FIFTEEN BUCKS!  taxes in.  that's a score!) 

My impatience is showing again I guess, because although it was bedtime (6 am comes waaay too early these days)  I really wanted to see how big the shawl would grow when blocked... would the lace and nupps stand out proudly?  would the yarn drift apart and I would have to cry myself to sleep?  too many unanswered questions.

Because I had "wires" on the brain... I wondered if I had anything around the house that might act wire-like under the right circumstances.  I finally decided on trying doubled up worsted weight yarn, which I strung through the lace in the same manner you would thread wires, and then sewed the lines down into the edges of the mattress so I could pull them tight.  Then I used a combination of eyeballing and measuring to even out the distribution of the lace on the lines.

This half-assed technique actually worked better than I thought it would!  I can totally see how the rigid wires would take a lot of the fiddlyness out of stretching out the lace.  Because my yarn lines didn't stay perfectly straight (despite really yanking on them and tying them down quite securely) I did use more pins that you probably would have to if you were using wires.

Close up of my yarn wires and an overall view of the shawl

As for Growth... I was very surprised at how much everything grew after soaking and blocking.  Straignt off the needles Swallowtail was less than 40 inches from wing tip to wing tip, and less than 20 inches along the spine.  After blocking - 54 x 28!  I think that's completely amazing!  Here I was worrying that it was going to be so small that it was useless (who wants a shawl that's more like a big bandanna? seriously)  And after the bath and the stretch she is just perfect!  I am a fairly small person,  so I think the size will be just right... can't wait to get home tonight and peel it off the bed and try it out!

I am really pleased with the gentle stripes of colour.  I was nervous that the way I had spun this originally (to be one ply of a 3 ply worsted yarn... but I decided to try leaving it as singles last minute) would result in a displeasing distribution of colours.  My original plan was to take a coloured painted roving and just tear bits and pieces off of it in a random way and just spin it.  None of the stripes or colour changes were planned.  I guess my random colour placement wasn't as random as I thought, because just look at the stripes and ripples!  I'm not sure I could have planned it that well if I had been trying?

closeup!  trying to show several sections of lace...

closeup of Nupps!

Overall, another pleasing project!  and BONUS! I have enough of the same yarn to do it all over again if I want :P  (should there be Swallowtail Twins?)


Comments (3) -

Oh my gosh, that is absolutely LOVELY! And the yarn is simply stunning! You got one very jealous knitter over here!

I'm in love! Yes, you should definitely make a 'twin' - then you can send it to me! Smile Smile Smile
Beautiful work.

Hi Jolene,
Wow, you really do beautiful work, from start to finish.  Your shawls are stunning.  Way to go!

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