Two weeks ago I showed you pre- and mid-blocking shots of my Rock Island shawl but it hadn’t dried so I didn’t get to show you any “glamour shots.” Now its off the blocking mats and looking gorgeous.
This Jared Flood pattern was first released in April 2011 and I first cast it on in May 2011. Yes, that’s right, it was on the needles for 3 years and 8 months… It’s not that slow it knit, I promise. You knit the lace edge first as a long strip then pick up stitches along a long edge and knit the body of the shawl up to the center back incorporating decreases up the center “spine” and at the edges to form the triangle.
It’s 72 repeats of the edging before you get to pick up the body of the shawl. I knit about 20 and then the shawl sat for quite a while. I finally picked it up and decided to finish November of 2014. It didn’t get continuous attention because it’s intricate lace (patterned on both right and wrong sides) and needed lots of focused attention until getting to the garter stitch body.
Once I got through the lace and into the garter stitch, this turned into my commuting project and took about 3 weeks of train rides to wrap up. On Ravelry I’ve titled my project “El Diablo” which is what some of the other knitters started
lovingly half-lovingly referring to this pattern as. With the lace patterning being executed on both sides a dropped stitch is basically a sanity killer. I used lifelines for every 10 repeats on the edging and had to use them more than once. I used them every 4 rows on the body lace because the rows were so long. Luckily I never had to use one of those.
This is definitely in the running for most difficult pattern I’ve ever completed. This aran sweater might be the only other thing that comes close. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to whittle down my old languishing projects. Putting this one to bed leaves 7 more projects that were cast on pre-2014. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum. Don’t ask about the crochet blanket.
I don’t know if you follow either Veera Välimäki or Joji Lacotelli on their social media, but if you have been you’ve likely seen updates about their two-stop US tour. #veeraandjojiknitamerica2015 has been blowing up my instagram/twitter for the past week. I was very lucky that Happy Knits in Portland was one of the stops. I was even luckier to snag a spot in one of Veera’s classes: Shawls and Shapes.
The class was about how to create different shawl shapes, from basic triangles to squares, circles, crescents, Vs, and other asymmetrical shapes. Then we went over ways to incorporate color, lace, and texture into the various shapes. Of course I left bursting with ideas! As a special treat, the class came with a free download of Veera’s pattern Neon Beast, which I am now dying to cast on.
It’s obvious that Veera is really passionate about knitting and designing and it was really fun to get the opportunity to hear about her approach to designing and style. I’m not sure if I will turn my “practice” shawl into something real or rip it back. It was fun to experiment, but I was using leftover balls, so any finished shawl would likely be on the small size. Generally, I prefer to learn on my own at a pace of my choosing, so I don’t often sign up for classes. I’m so glad I did this time. Worth it.
I tend to think of myself as a process knitter. I generally pick projects that I want to make, not necessarily projects that I want to have in the end. The one weird exception to this is lace. I covet finish lace objects. Love the intricate feather-light airiness. I just don’t love knitting it. I know exactly why. Lace looks like this before you block it.
That border is very intricate lace. There are no “rest” rows there are yarn overs and decreases on every row. Drop a stitch in that, and you’re screwed. And yet, it looks incredibly unimpressive. There’s just nothing fun about unblocked lace.
I love to stop mid-kint and take a look at what I’ve produced every so often, and with lace, it just never looks like you’re producing something worth all the effort you’ve put in. It’s not until you are completely finished and get a chance to aggressively block your project that you finally see the fruit of your work.
I don’t like waiting that long to finally see what I’m getting. I mean, blocking improves everything, but lace doesn’t look like anything before it’s blocked. I need more encouragement than that. And yet, I still find myself casting on lace projects. It generally leads to extremely enthusiastic beginnings when I’m all excited by gorgeous pattern pictures and a freshly wound ball of buttery lace yarn. I also get pretty enthusiastic about the end because I can taste the lovely lace I’m about to see bloom into life with a good block. The middle, frankly, is a slog. Every time I think about a new lace project I go through the same internal debate–do I want to start a project I know will feel like a toil through the long middle? Is the FO worth it, when the process is really what I love about knitting. The answer is generally yes. Life is a mystery. But seriously, look at the blocking photo!
How’s the progress on the crochet blanket you ask? Shut up.