A shawl of many colours

Back in July, I  bought this little handspun, hand dyed wheel of yarny deliciousness at the Fibre and Fleece Festival:

So in love was I with these pretty colours, and unable to resist it any longer, that I attempted my first shawlette using this yarn.  And here it is:

The yarn is from Awakeri Woolcraft – 100g of laceweight single spun pure merino.  This a very rare example of hand-dyed New Zealand yarn in a long colour repeat.  Having examined it closely when knitting it, I think it’s done by joining different coloured rovings together during the spinning to create the colour changes, rather than spinning a cream yarn first, and then hand-painting later. 
The gradual variations in the single colour sections are amazing and the colours all tone together beautifully.  It’s a true feast for the eyes, and I think, the mark of a true fibre artist.

This yarn comes with a pattern.  It’s supposed to be knitted on humongous needles and come up more cobwebby, but I wanted a solid shawl, to help keep out the freezing winds we can get in Wellington in winter.  Here are some of the scarves that were already knitted up at the festival:

But I did my own thing.  As usual:

I recently saw a woman wearing a garter-stitch shawlette in a beautiful variegated yarn, and I thought this might work for this yarn.  So I adapted a pattern from a magazine called “The Knitting Collection”, from the publishers of “Yarn Forward” magazine.  It’s called “Faux Farose Mini Shawl”, by Eleanor Doyle for Fyberspates. 

The yarn in the pattern is DK weight, so to compensate for using a much finer yarn, I cast on 45 stitches instead of the 21 specified in the pattern.  The pattern uses 7mm needles, but I used 3.75mm needles.  I think it’s turned out quite well.

It will even work as a nice summer shawlette.  Bonus!

The ruffles are a little more generous on my version, mainly because I did two increase rows before I worked out that I probably should have stopped at one increase row.  I blame the pattern for not being more descriptive… Having said that, I rather like the frills, so it’s not a problem.

Knitting this shawl was physically challenging.  It’s hard on the eyes, knitting with such fine yarn.  I have a ‘crafting’ light (desk lamp) so that I can see what I’m doing when I knit at night, but even then, I could only attempt this shawl at one-hour-at-a-time intervals, otherwise I felt like I was going cross-eyed!

By the time I got to the ruffle, there were also a huge number of stitches of the needles – each row took 10 – 20 minutes to complete!  I don’t know how many stitches there were.  Let’s see – 52 rows, 4 extra stitches each time = 52 x 4 = 208 extra stitches + 45 original = 253 at the end of the body.  Ruffle = 2 increase rows where you make a new stitch every second stitch – 253 x 2 = 506 (first increase row).  506 x 2 = 1012 (final number of stitches per row for body of ruffle).  I’m glad I didn’t know that when I was knitting the final few rows!!  No wonder it took so long.

The ruffle rows were a bit of a test of endurance as I have a rule that I don’t put down my knitting until I’ve finished a row.  This avoids accidents caused by stitches popping off needles mid-row, or little children or cats playing with your knitting and unravelling it… Overall though, I didn’t mind knitting it at all.  There weren’t that many ruffle rows.  It was one of those projects you could knit mindlessly while talking/waiting/watching kids/when bored with your current project. 

I’m so very happy!!  Super soft, warm, cuddly, pretty.  Yay!  I can’t stop looking at it, and admiring its prettiness.  I especially like how it shows off the colours in the yarn.  The colour changes seem made for this pattern!  Now I wish I had bought more.  I feel like a kid who ate her candy too fast – it’s gone before I’ve had enough! 

I know you’ll be noting the lack of lace in this shawl… The lace thing is interesting.  When I look at a lace chart, my mind does a similar thing to that of a possum caught in the glare of advancing car headlights – it becomes incapable of rational thought, and sits there on the road, stupefied, before it is run over. 

This is a rather large stumbling block to get over in the advancement of a lace project.  My mind needs a ‘map’ when I knit.  As long as I can “see” what comes next in my mind’s eye, I’m comfortable knitting any project.  With lace, I’m still not familiar enough with general pattern of K2 togs and YOs to be able to visualise it when it still looks like so much scrambled yarn.  Even if it is in a chart.  I keep getting distracted by the call of everyday mummyhood, which doesn’t help things when you are mid-chart.  Excuses, excuses. 

But I keep eyeing those patterns… and one day, it will all click, I’m sure.  In the meantime, she keeps to simple lace borders and sample sizes, to keep learning and gain confidence.

So the next time I buy some yarn from the talented Charlotte, I think I will see if I can have two balls of the same colourway… and attempt a generous, gorgeous lace shawl.  Not too ambitious, I hope!

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