Rock Island Glamour Shots

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.

Rock Island

 

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.

Rock Island

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.

Obligatory shawl-on-bush shot

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.

Rock Island

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.

The lace debate

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.

Rock Island

 

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.

Rock Island

 

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.

Rock Island

 

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!

Rock Island

 

How’s the progress on the crochet blanket you ask? Shut up.

Two Long-Term Projects Off the Needles

So I told myself that I would not buy any more yarn until I got all my current WIPs off the needles. The projects I have to finish are the Halloween socks, the Swallowtail Shawl, and Andrew’s sweater. In the past two weeks two of them have been finished. The socks were finished first. I had them almost completely finished before spring break and I cast off in the middle of the flight from Wisconsin to Oregon. Of course that mean that I had nothing to do for the rest of the flight but I got to wear my new socks all around Portland and I got SO many compliments from random strangers. They were knit from a knitpicks sock blank dyed for me by UPBarnGoddess on Ravelry. Here’s the original blank and the very beginning of the toes.


And here are the finished socks. I really love the way the colors worked up on the blank. Until the calf, the the colors were comming up pretty randomly but as I increased more and more it started to pool a bit. One of the beautiful things about knitting with a sock blank is that both socks are knit at the same time and the colors are identical so even when it pools the two socks still look exactly the same. I wanted to see just how long I could make the socks so I kept going until I only had a few inches left. I was about 3.5 inches short of knee-highs which means they’re fat-part-of-calf-highs so they tend to fall down arround my ankles. I kinda like it because they end up serving as socks and leg warmers.


The other thing I finished last night is my Swallowtail Shawl. I ended up working on this all day yesterday because it was comming along so beautifully! (Honors Project-Shmoners Project) I was up till 3:30 am when I finally cast off, and when I looked at the clock I was shocked. I thought it was maybe midnight… Time flies when you’re knitting lace… This morning I work up and blocked it and it was dry after about 2 hours so I took it outside for some pretty pictures. Here it is.




I don’t know that I’ll ever have an occasion to wear this, because it’s much more fancy that my day-to-day style but it’s so beautiful! I figure if I haven’t found a use for it by December I can gift it to someone for Christmas. It took less that one skein of Malabrigo lace to make the shawl and the pattern was free so total cost was less than $9. Pretty perfect I think.