Saturday, May 20, 2006

It's a Purple Thing

Okay, I wear purple. I like purple. But not everything I knit is purple! My sis, who also likes purple, requested a purple shawl. She still hasn't seen it, so this is its debut (currently unblocked), here in OceanKnitterland. This is the Susan Shawl from Stahman's Shawls and Scarves. Myrna Stahman moderates the Faroese Shawl Knitalong on Yahoo groups. I've had such a great time knitting this shawl, I'm thinking about making another one soon. The shawls in the book are knit from the neck down, starting with a short neckband, and gradually working outward. The lace border is knitted on sideways -- yep, I said sideways. The lace border rows are perpendicular to the last row of the main body of the shawl. As you knit the border, you gradually eat up one stitch at a time off the last row of the body. Surprisingly, this is easy to do, even though it may sound intimidating. Myrna's instructions are foolproof. You just have to trust the pattern.

The yarn (if you can call it that) was fingering weight mercerized cotton, hand dyed by Interlacements. I bought a huge hank of this at Stitches, probably over 3,000 yards. It was a bit daunting to wind the stuff into useable balls, but I was determined. I wound about half of it one night by hand. I know, you think I'm nuts, but for fine yarn or thread, I have always done this by hand. The important thing to me was to make sure there were no knots, and that I had one continuous ball for the entire shawl.

THREAD WINDING, OceanKnitter-style

My method is to wind the thread in a figure eight around my thumb and index eight times. Then, I fold the figure eight in half, leaving the start of the ball hanging loose, and begin winding around and around. I always keep two or three fingers under the yarn I am winding to keep it soft and loose. After ten or twelve winds around, I pull my fingers out of the ball, and put them on the outside again, continuing in this manner until the ball is the size of my fist.

Now, this is the part that I may do differently than other knitters, but it works for me. I take a piece of scrap yarn and tie up that first ball like a bakery box. That means, the ball is now secured and will not unwind and roll away from me, as I start ball #2 from the same hank, without cutting the yarn. For this particular shawl, I made eight center-pull balls, all daisy-chained together, without cutting the yarn once. Each ball is tied up. I only untie a ball when I'm ready to use it.

The good: you will only have two ends to weave in when you are done.

The bad: you will have to carry around all eight balls of yarn with you while the work is in progress.

You might say, why not use coned yarn? Well, sometimes a particularly nice hank of yarn calls to you, and it's not on a cone. Also, some coned yarns will have knots hidden inside, and you won't know about it until you get halfway through the cone. It's just a matter of preference. For this shawl, I wanted it to be as perfect as possible for my sister.

I'm hoping to have time to block it in the coming week, in between working on samples for Kristin Omdahl, who is making great strides in the knit and crochet design world. I'm excited to be working with Kristin again, after working with her on two other sweater samples.


Tracey, in MI said...

WOW. and again, I say WOW. Beautiful work;)

KnitNana said...

Your Susan is beautiful - and I love purple, too! You should be very proud of yourself, and your sister is a lucky gal!

Nina said...

Hi there -You Susan is lovely! Purple is one of my facorites too, but I find I seldom knit it for myself. I may have to change that. I also live in an ocean town - Pacifica, CA. And I knit my first Faroese, Susan, for my sister, too. I then did ALka for me but another Susan is waiting her turn.

Dympna said...

That is one beautiful shawl. Your sister will love it.

Holly said...

That is one beautiful shawl! Very inspiring!!! You just made me want to pull mine out today-too bad my schedule is packed already :~/

Carol said...

LOVE the daisy-chained balls idea!!!! What a smart cookie!

Anonymous said...

wow, that's incredible!! your sister will love it!