Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Breath of June, in January

The Bee Fields shawl had a slow finish because I was ensnared by a can't-put-down book. But as with all lace, it was well worth the wait because the results were just as thrilling as the tale that captured me.

It's like the leaves are back on the bush with this springy, fresh shawl draped over the bare branches.

I've nothing extraordinary to report about this knit. I bought the kit, knit the pattern as directed and ended up with a shawl that looks pretty much the same as the original. It was fun, the results are great, but somehow its not as satisfying as some of my other, more creative projects.

Two issues. One, I made a lot of mistakes that I just fudged over. I believe you can get away with this in lace knitting because the eye sees the whole pattern, not one small part of it. In two-color knitting, it's much harder to fudge this way because the eye is immediately captured by the small error. At least we have duplicate stitch in that circumstance.

Second issue. I find it hard to use blocking wires. I was terribly excited to start using blocking wires, thinking it would simplify the process, but I find them annoying. Once you've threaded one wire in, threading in the next one becomes awkward. At least the way I do it, which is in my lap. If I lay it out on the floor I tend to have the lace slip off the wire. And the shawl is damp and cold in my lap as I try to thread it on the wires. This shawl had a long top that required two wires to span it. I got frustrated and just used pins at the bottom.

I believe in a firm blocking to open up the lace to the maximum. I've seen some pictures on Ravelry where I think the lace wasn't blocked severely and I don't think it does the knitting justice. Well, I block tightly enough that the wires were bending in the middle. I had to support them with pins. Is that typical? I'm wondering if I blocked too tightly. The stitch pattern for this shawl puckered quite a bit in the pre-blocking, and I wanted it to be flat.


I knit the tall size, since I'm 5'9", but the pattern called for a 3.75mm needle and I went down to a 3.5mm, so my finished shawl isn't quite as big. It' will still make a lovely little summer wrap for me, but not a cozy winter one.

The kit came with a generous three skeins of yarn and I used only two. I have a pretty good idea what's going to happen to that third skein.

Oh, and the book? It was The Power of One, lent to me by a co-worker. It's a very dramatic and powerfully written book. It started off stronger than it finished, but by the time I was half way through, I just had to know what happens to the main character. It was a great escape!

17 comments:

  1. Yes, I've found that blocking wires need to be supported by pins, and, yes, they're a pain to thread. I only use them on the fronts of an open front square or circle and pin the rest of the shawl by hand.

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  2. It's beautiful! I have the stole on the needles but am struggling to read the pattern. It's my big goal for this year, a gift for a friend.

    I'm all for pins, frankly. Blocking wires frustrate me. I could never get a hard enough block with wires.

    Your shawl is lovely. It looks cold up there -- how deep is your snow?

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  3. I have the same problem with blocking wires. I use cotton thread. Use a running stitch along the edges before you dampen the lace. Make knotted loops at each end of the thread. Then pin the loops making the thread tight. You might need additional pins to shape points but overall I find the thread easier to pin and control than wires.

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  4. Thanks for the caveat on the blocking wires. All the adverts for them make them sound like the best thing ever - no more blocking woes! It's good to get input from someone who actually uses them.
    Whatever your issues, it's a lovely shawl. And it does look like a breath of spring!

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  5. Your Bees Shawl is beautiful anyway. I dislike blocking wires too; commenter Jae's cotton thread suggestion sounds good - no more struggling with wet knitting. Have to remember to try it out.

    Saw your Fish Mittens in the Thread Bear Newsletter. Way to go!

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  6. I agree w/ Catherine, but still like blocking wires, most especially for eliminating the scalloping that can happen if I don't use eleventy bajillion pins.

    Your shawl is like a promise of spring in the dead of winter!

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  7. Your shawl is beautiful - when the last picture is enlarged, the detail of the design is easily visible and so gorgeous. I use pins to stabilize the wires - still easier than pinning it out without wires!

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  8. LOVELY lacey bees! I don't have any wisdom to part regarding blocking as I've only blocked once and it was half-ass. GASP! Give me more time - I'm still beginnerish. And I've read The Power of One ages ago, and I remember it consuming my days and the beginning more grasping than the end. I must reread it. Cheers!

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  9. Anonymous10:06 am

    Beautiful work on your shawl!

    Did you know that book has been made into a movie? The movie is incredible- a great story and amazing music. I think your boys would enjoy watching it too.

    kristieinbc

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  10. The shawl is just beautiful and it's the process sometimes isn't it!!

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  11. Its funny how just knowing the errors are there can kind of taint how a knit ultimately "feels" in the FO list isn't it! Beautiful job though!

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  12. Woo, I'm chilly looking at you pose in the snow! The shawl is beautiful though...

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  13. oh laurie!! that's gorgeous . . congratulations, it looks wonderful on you with your red hair!

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  14. First pic looks like the shawl is ALIVE and soaring through you're yard. Neat shot!

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  15. Wow, Laurie, that is so pretty. Great work! What are you going to do with the third skein?

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  16. Beautiful!

    I always support the wires with pins.

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  17. AN INCREDIBLE shawl you have knitted up. I love it and the color is so addicting in this snowy winter!

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