Saturday, February 09, 2008

Chasing my Swallowtail

Okay, so it's snowing again, but at the risk of having this turn into a weather blog (how boring would that be?), I shall say no more.

Let's take a look at an F.O.! After a long and tedious labour of love, I finished the Swallowtail shawl for my Mum:

I wanted to finish it in time for her birthday, so the weekend before, with one chart to go, I sat down at the kitchen table, made a pot of coffee and hunkered down. By sundown I was binding off. (Sounds dramatic, but remember sundown is about 5 o'clock this time of year).

The sun was going down, and I was binding off. And binding off. And binding off... Finishing that last chart I felt like a hero. I had climbed Everest! I had made it to the top! Unfortunately, after planting your flag at the peak, you eventually have to make your way back down the mountainside. My descent: 323 stitches. Gaah!

Then came the blocking. After trying to somehow mathematically make the edges even and symmetrical, I gave up and eyeballed it:

Close enough, right?
Must remember to purchase more pins before embarking on another shawl project:

After the miracle of the soak-and-pin, I had this:

(Sorry for the crap photos. Tight deadlines + no sunlight does not a pretty picture make.)

I overheard someone in a yarn store say they had knit this shawl in two evenings. TWO FREAKIN' NIGHTS. This wasn't some well seasoned, silver-haired knitter either. (Back in my bartending days I would have asked her for I.D.) Therefore, I think she was either a) a big fat liar, or b) some kind of child prodigy. Me? It took about a month.

The Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits Fall 2006
School Products hand-dyed cashmere blend (50% merino, 30% silk, 20% cashmere)
NEEDLES:3.75mm Denise Interchangeables
NOTES/MODIFICATIONS: Purl 5 together? Gaah! I used a dpn a couple of sizes smaller to work this nearly impossible manouever. I had originally intended to buy some addi lace needles for this project, but anxious to get started, I cast on with my Denises. Bad move. After knitting a fair chunk I didn't want to change needles and risk wonky gauge issues (tread lightly; beware the wrath of the almighty Gauge!). I would never attempt to knit lace with these needles again! The yarn snagged on the join, the tip was too blunt for all the shcmancy moves. I really just should have switched anyway, what was I thinking?

I did not have fun knitting this project. It was tedious and I made many, many mistakes. There was a lot of ripping back (not easy with lace). Without a lot of counting, lifelines, and more stitch markers than I care to think about, I never would have made it through.

Of course, after hearing my Mum say things like "I can't figure out how you ever knitted this!" and "It's so warm yet so light!" all the frustration disappeared. For Mum? It was worth it. Happy Birthday Mum!


Courtney said...

Your shawl came out really pretty!!! Great Job

The Happy College Knitter said...

Oooo!! It's beautiful! What a great birthday present for your mom :)

As for your friend at the yarn shop...either she's a big fat liar, a big fat exaggerator, or just an insomniac of some kind. Regardless, yours looks great--happy knitting!

Reckless Glue said...

it's beautiful, a great accomplishment---happy birthday to your mum and to you! --thanks for the weekend fun :)

Macoco said...

Your shawl is so beautiful. Your mom is going to treasure this present for a longtime.

Anytime people reference "sundown." I immediately think of Westerns or horror movies. ;)

Mintyfresh said...

It looks fabulous!