Monday, June 12, 2006

The Resurrection of Swirl Shawl

Yes, dear reader, I must confess that Claudia is exactly right: after I wrote that post, I totally fished that puppy out of the trash. I took the loss of Swirl Shawl pretty hard, for three reasons:

1) I feel compelled to knit lace (probably because this time last year, I was consumed by it), and my Icelandic shawl book hasn't arrived in the mail yet.

2) As I knit Swirl Shawl, I had gradually increased the needle size so that, when folded in half, it nestled perfectly around my neck like a snuggly little ferret. Of course, I discovered that my needle increases had been successful only after I took Swirl Shawl off the needles and into the trash.

3) If ever completed, Swirl Shawl would be so gorgeous. Here she is, as a doily.
(The pattern is online, free, but the link is broken right now so I can't steer you there).

But if she were ever to be completed, she would have to be less boring. That spiral pattern is beyond endless in laceweight yarn. I was bored stiff by the time I got to doily size; I would never make it to shawl size. Climate change would put New England under water and dinosaurs would return to Earth before I got to the border of Swirl Shawl in laceweight.

I fished her from the trash to see if there was some way to create the spiral pattern while only knitting a semi-circle (thus eliminating half the knitting!). This is the only time in my life I've ever wished I had progressed beyond pre-calculus, because my head hurt just thinking about it.

As a full circle, my only recourse for getting to the good stuff quicker would be knitting with heavier yarn. So I tried casting on with old, motheaten white medium weight laceweight (sort of halfway to fingering weight). It showed the pattern even better than the alpaca had, but I don't have enough of that yarn to complete a mitten, much less a shawl.

I then cast on with leftover laceweight merino from my wedding shawl. It is infinitely more pleasant to knit with than the alpaca--it's springier, softer and far, far less hairy. But the difference in diameter between the merino and the alpaca could be measured in microns. It might be slightly heavier, but oy, still endless.

And then, out of desperation, I cast on with the Icelandic laceweight I bought at Cummington. This stuff is really heavy--very nearly fingering weight. It knits up really quickly, but it's so heavy I fear it'll have no drape and be stiflingly hot when folded in half.

psych shawl
The swirl really plays up the variegation. I can't decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing: it turns Swirl Shawl into Psychedelic Shawl, which could be cheesy hippie or kind of fun.

While I kind of like the coloration, I think Swirl Shawl needs a lighter yarn. Surely I can find a medium-weight laceweight with some color variation, for that tie-dyed, dropped-acid hippie shawl look.

Maybe my book will get here today...


Beth S. said...

Oooooh. Hope you get your book soon! It's really inspiring to leaf through, but also a little scary. I want to knit almost everything in it (though for some of the designs I think I might not use quite so many different colors of wool.)

Carole said...

So can you just keep the first one as doily size? It's awfully pretty to chuck.

maryse said...

how about you finish all of the fiddly color on color stuff and i'll knit up the boring part of the shawl.

margene said...

The new incarnation looks good. You are SO going to love the book. It might be worth the wait to just sit quietly;-)

Kristen said...

Maryse makes a good offer...I'm just glad it was fished out of the trash! (the color of the icelandic yarn is beautiful and I think it could work (or not) with that pattern.) I hope your book is here soon...

Cheryl said...

Ooh, I can see why you were inspired to make that a shawl, it's gorgeous! Although I can also see why the never-ending swirl part would drive you to madness.

mf said...

I knew you'd be picking that from the

mf said...

almost forgot what is the link for the shawl?

Juno said...

You are cracking me up.

But if the needle change plan worked on the alpaca cloud, you won't get the same effect with the Icelandic - denser, a bit coarser. Also Icelandic - however lovely - isn't really cuddly in the same way.

What about two stranding the alpaca?