27 May 2007

Jane's Icarus Shawl


On the couch, originally uploaded by bunnieprops.

It's done. It's blocked. And it's fabulous!


What better thing to do on a cool rainy day in Montreal but to block the newly finished Icarus shawl?


The pattern is from Interweave Knits - Summer 2006. The yarn is Riversong Cashmere hand dyed by Virginia van Santen as Painted Yarns French Lilacs. Virginia passed away earlier this year, so this shawl has become a tribute to her wonderful work as a knitter, yarn painter and knitting mentor. She was very kind to my brother and I, letting us take over her yarn dyeing studio one week so we could learn her craft.


I started with this beautiful yarn to make a Print 'o' the Wave stole but reknitting it several times, I realised that I just didn't have enough yarn for it. I am happy that Eunny's pattern taught me a new cast on method, grafting and the knit on border concept, but this yarn was meant to be another shawl. I scrounged through the internet and my stash of Interweave Knits until I found this most lovely shawl pattern. I hoped and crossed my fingers that I'd have enough yarn to complete it. Sure enough I lucked out.


Yes this isn't the most complex of lace knit shawls, but I really like the way that the body of the shawl has a simple pattern that leads the eye to the much more detailed border. And as it happened with how the ball was wound, the most colourful part would be in the border where the colours could dance the most. And the monotony of the knitting was a nice break from Eunny's pattern.


I kind of got tired of knitting one row and then having to go unknit three. Counting the stitches at the end of each row is a necessity for lace knitting (I learn by doing, not so much from reading and/or following directions). Not to say that I didn't make any mistakes. I do that from time to time. But I was able to memorise the chart much much quicker, and managed to correct portions a row or two above if necessary. There were a few close calls regarding lack of yarn, but in the end, very little adjustments were required to make it to the end. And it doesn't really seemed to have affected the overall size of the shawl.


This is the first time I did the 'proper' lace blocking with all the pins. This part I did actually read about beforehand. My brother (who worked at a yarn shop, owns lots of knitting books and generally likes to know everything) said that this is usually done on the carpet. I have none. Not even an area rug. I had no idea how I could actually block this shawl. Ironing board? My couch?


Then reading in the back of my newly arrived A Gathering of Lace I got the brilliant idea to use my mattress. Genius! When talking to my non-knitting friend about it, she was appauled. She told me that I should rig up something on my wall, or wrap strings around everthing in my apartment, even to pin it to the curtains rather than use the mattress. All her suggestions made me laugh so much. She kept coming up with these outrageous suggestions that were WAY more complicated than just using the mattress.


I took pictures of my highly sophisticated blocking procedure. Click on the above picture to link to the Flickr set.


I wasn't sure how long the shawl would take to dry, so I got up early in the morning, and put it in the sink to soak. In my pajamas, I prepped the bed with a couple of towels and put the duvet and pillows on the floor. I drained the sink and oh so gently squeezed out as much of the water as I could without disturbing the yarn. Carefully laid out the shawl on the towel and began to put the pins in, using my canvas stretching techniques. There had to be some pinning strategy adjustments as I went. I ended up getting all obsessive when pinning the top of the shawl and placed about a bazillion to make sure it would be straight when it dried. I could see where the pin and string strategy would be a good idea. Next time.


It's amazing how no matter how pretty the yarn is, when it gets wet, it always smells like wet dog. But thankfully it really didn't take long to dry. I was kind of amazed by that actually. I tried it one and it's SO AMAZING! It's so pretty. And it makes me feel really pretty to wear it. So pretty that I did start to think that it looked good with the jeans and gray t-shirt I was wearing. Yeah.


So when/where/with what am I going to wear this shawl? No idea. I need to find a nice dress. I'm thinking a nice classic dress in a dove gray to set off the colours. I intend it for fancy events. Weddings being the only forseeable such event in my future and it's likely a few years until my cousin gets married. So I have some time to procrastinate the shopping for a dress.

No comments: