Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Civil War Shawl

Among the things I truly enjoy are taking and teaching classes. When I saw that my LYS, Blazing Needles, was offering a lace shawl class, I jumped on it like a duck on a junebug. The instructor is a local knitting designer (and all 'round nice person), Susan Lawrence. She has a pattern in this season's Interweave Knits magazine, the Fountain Pen Shawl.

Ooh, ahh, ain't it purty!

And I had just the yarn for it, dark red Skacel Merino Lace I'd bought with the thought of eventually making an evening wrap for Twin'sWife. True, Susan was planning to use her Forest Canopy shawl as the teaching example, but she's good natured and willing to customize her instruction.

So I got out my size six KnitPicks Harmony Wood circular needles and cast on for a swatch.

One little problem.

I couldn't see the yarn against the needles.

Dang, my eyes have gotten bad.

I chickened out on the Fountain Pen Shawl and dug through my stash for something I had enough of for the Forest Canopy.

Hmmm... Elsebeth Lavold, dark gray silk, cotton and wool blend, DK weight. Not exactly razzle dazzle, but BabySister is a Civil War reenactor and she and Mom are going to a big reenactment in April. How's about I knit it for her.

Started knitting, analyzing the pattern as I knit.

I think I'm finally starting to comprehend this. The structure makes sense. I don't have to tote the pattern around with me because I know what I'm supposed to do.

Of course knowing and doing are two different things. I am the Queen of Frogging and Tinking. I've become quite adept at finding and fixing my mistakes. Good thing since I make plenty of them. Or maybe not since it means I have lots of practice. (Hmm... I think this is turning into a circular argument.)

Knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl. Ooh, ooh, I'm starting to see the pattern!

Knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl. Geeze, Susan says she can knit one of these in a couple of days, wonder how she manages it.

Knit, knit, knit, purl, purl, purl. It's turning in to a lumpy gray bag looking thing. Doesn't look like it's ever going to be big enough to be an actual shawl, but they say it will grow when it's blocked.

Susan brought a mini version to the last class to show us how to block it.

How smart, I'll knit me a mini version, measure it, block it, and measure it again. Then I can do the math and see how much I actually have to knit to make a respectable shawl.

So I knit a cute little mini shawl (gotta get me a dolly to model these samples.) I measured it. I soaked it, blocked it and measured it. Then I took the shawl swatch off the pins and measured it again after it had relaxed.

I did the math and figured I needed a to do 15 pattern repeats to get it as long as I want it. Or, if you want quick and dirty, I also measured the length of a leaf, about two inches before blocking, I want the shawl 30 inches long before blocking, so I need to knit 15 repeats. How nice when the math agrees with the quick and dirty.

Now to do a bit more math to see how much I have to go.

************** Stunned Silence **************

Right now I have eleven pattern repeats done, say 8,360 stitches. If I want to do fifteen pattern repeats, that would make 15,240 (fifteen thousand!) stitches.

I'm only half way done.

I need to sit down.

P.S. Thanks to Susan for letting me use her Fountain Pen and Forest Canopy Shawl photos.


Iron Needles said...

I am so jealous that you got to take a class with Susan Lawrence! I made a forest canopy, and love the pattern. It's sets on the back of my chair to warm my shoulders at night. I made it larger though.

I like that other pattern. May have to look into that one, too.

susan said...

Oh, no sweat; you'll be finished in no time!

AlisonH said...

You made me sit down and do the math on one of my circular shawl patterns. Yeah, that's about the right number of stitches. All the more to enjoy; have fun! (Some things are best not counted.)