> To Knit is Divine: The transformative magic of blocking lace

Monday, August 28, 2006

The transformative magic of blocking lace

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is what happens to lace when you block it.

Weird manta ray-shaped object:

Triangle with scalloped edges:

Again... Manta ray:


Weird blobby textures:

lacy goodness:

Again... blobby:


One thing is for sure - I either need to start making smaller shawls, or I'm going to need to buy a bigger bed.

This was the first lace-weight project I ever started. I began it in mid-June, but then got sidetracked by the Mystery Stole KAL, which become the first lace-weight project I ever finished. But once that was done, I came back to this triangular shawl and finished it up.

This one started with the idea that I wanted to try lace-weight yarn. I had made a shawl using DK weight, but I wanted something even lighter. So I bought some Knitpicks Shadow in the Campfire colourway and then set about to figure out what to do with it. I had no clue how much I would need, so I bought 5 skeins (I have since discovered that that is way more than I need for a shawl, so I foresee a second shawl or stole from this yarn in my future.

Next, I started looking at shawl patterns. I really liked the Aran Weight Victorian Lace Shawl, which is a free pattern from Elann.com

But the pattern is written for aran-weight yarn, and I wanted to use lace-weight. So I decided to use the stitch patterns from this pattern, but to wing it the rest of the way. I started with the first stitch pattern, but I didn't like the look of it. The pattern says that the stitch pattern was English Mesh Lace, based on Barbara Walker's First Treasury. Since I have the Barbara Walker book, I looked it up, and found that there was a slight difference in one line of the pattern. I l
iked the look of the picture of the book better than what I had, so I ripped it out and re-did it. I was much happier with how it looked.

Because of the way the pattern is written, I couldn't use it to figure out when to switch stitch patterns. The pattern tells you to switch after so many skeins of yarn (and to go up a needle size with each skein - not quite sure why). But since I'm knitting at a totally different gauge, using much finer yarn, these instructions were kind of useless for me. So I just knit until it looked about right, then switched to the second and then the third stitch patterns.

On the third one, the pattern uses a Mini Vine Lace, which is a 7-stitch repeat. Again, since my yarn was thinner, I opted to go for the traditional Vine Lace pattern, which is a 9-stitch repeat (again out of the Barbara Walker book)

Since I was new at knitting laceweight shawls, I didn't really have much of a concept of how much bigger it would get on blocking (I still don't, because I forgot to measure it before blocking!), so I wasn't sure when to stop knitting to get the size I wanted. I knew I didn't want a skimpy shawl, but somet
hing that would cover my arms, as I tend to wear a shawl when I'm wearing something short-sleeved or sleeveless and my arms get chilly. I wanted it big. So I kept knitting... and knitting... and knitting. Finally, I declared it done (totally arbitrary, mind you)

So here it is, finished. It covers my arms, as I wanted. I'll try to get a picture of it on me later, but here it is modelled on some gym equipment. It looks better on me :-)

In retrospect, I would have preferred more of the first two patterns, and a bit less of the third one. But all-in-all, not bad for a first improvised lace-weight triangular shawl.

I'm not sure what to call it. It was inspired by the Aran Weight Victorian Lace Shawl, but since I changed pretty much everything, it sort of became my own pattern, I guess.


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