Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Meet the WIPS: The Shawl

This is another of my in-progress projects. It's a shawl. To be specific, it's the Lacy Cables Shawl from the inside back cover of the Fall 2001 issue of Knitters magazine (Issue 64, Cable Ready theme). The designer is the talented Gayle Roehm. I've been eyeing it ever since the issue came out. I finally matched yarn to pattern, ambition to energy, and cast on.

I usually have a shawl or two on the needles. I'm not sure why. In their own way, they are as addictive as doilies. Some are lacy, some are plain. Many are designed as stash-busters to use up yarn that didn't work for some other project.

XRX has its little "this is easy" logo on the pattern. They are correct. There's just enough interest to keep me going, without me ever really having to stop and think. The shawl is a rectangle. The lace pattern is a series of fagoted columns with occasional cables that cause the lace columns to undulate. Garter stitch borders frame the lacy cables and keep the shawl from curling.

Although this may seem complex at first glance, there is a soothing regularity to the stitch pattern that makes it easy to memorize, easy to keep track of, and easy to break up into small chunks of knitting.

I am using handspun for the project. I'm not totally sure what it is. Mostly wool, for sure, but I don't know much more than that. The color and style look like an Ashland Bay offering. It came in a grab bag a long time ago. I spun it up on my drop spindle a few years ago, getting well over 1000 yards from the 5-6 ounce blob of roving.

The yarn is variegated, mostly in shades of light browns and grays with a bit of yellow and cream every now and then. Most of the variegation is fairly subtle. I'm using it as a singles yarn rather than plying it.

I was a bit nervous about using singles, especially for an openwork pattern like this. I have heard the tales of biasing fabrics, breaking or drifting-apart yarn, and so on. However, so far, I am very pleased with how well the yarn is doing in this pattern. There are no problems with biasing. The yarn seems to be holding together well. I am deliberately working rather loosely, since I want a very open-looking shawl. It will be lightly blocked after I'm finished.

One concern I had with this particular yarn for this particular project is the vareigation. Would it obscure the lace? The cables? So far, the lace columns look just fine. The cables are somewhat obscured, both from the darker color and the variegation. It's OK enough. I like the undulation and am willing to put up with the cables to achieve it even if the cables aren't as well-defined as I'd like.

The first ball of yarn has been my prototype/swatch. Would I like the pattern? Would the knitting have a good rhythm to it so I wouldn't be too bored or driven nuts? Would the yarn work well with the cables and lace? Would I have enough to make a decent-sized shawl? So far, the answer to all of those questions is yes.

I have at least 3 or 4 shawls on my to-do list. A few are doily patterns that will work well as shawls if done in an appropriate yarn. Most are actual shawl patterns and/or ideas I'd like to play around with. I'll no doubt post about all this sometime in the future. You'll get to see and read about previous shawl projects, too.


We had our first real frost last night, more or less on schedule. Fall is definitely here. I even needed to wear a scarf on a walk this morning. I used one of my moebius scarves. It's long enough and wide enough to go around my neck and then drape over my head and ears for extra warmth. One of the best things about cooler weather is the opportunity to wear my knitting.

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