Thursday, March 29, 2007


I completed the Large Rectange with Leaf & Trellis Pattern on page 54.

The project entailed a number of firsts for me: knitted-on border, grafting, and serious blocking. I know several of you are also new to these techniques, so here are a few observations/reassurances.

• Although I did a gauge swatch, I was ¾ through the center panel when I realized I would run out of yarn. Fortunately, I found more. The finished shawl is 3’ X 7.5’, much larger than the pattern indicates. Clearly, I need to polish my swatching skills.

• The directions for knitted-on borders may sound tricky, especially the corners, but once you get into it everything makes sense. I enjoyed the border. It went fast, the pattern was easy to memorize, and I didn’t need stitch markers.

• When I started on the border, I used a 16” circular. It was a good safety net at first, but the cable became cumbersome as I gained speed and confidence, so I went back to DPNs. Yes, I cried the first time a needle slipped out, but I was able to pick up all the stitches. Whew!

• The Handmaiden Sea Silk I used is non-fuzzy, making it easy to see where to place the needle when you join the border to the center panel. Even so, I miscalculated and had to fudge the double/triple joins at the first two corners. Once the shawl was blocked, I couldn’t spot the mistakes. Hand-painted yarn has its virtues.

• Grafting the border edges together was a nail-biter, beginning with my fumbling attempt to unzip the crochet chain cast-on. Note to self: use single-ply waste yarn next time. I ended up with a stitch too few on one needle, so I just picked up an extra yarnover.

• Blocking with two curious cats around is a challenge. I usually spread a few thick towels across the dining room table, and I’ve never actually pinned anything; I just stretch and pat the damp fabric into place. I wanted to do it right this time, so I borrowed an idea from Stephanie McPhee’s blog: interlocking foam floor tiles! I bought 2 packages of 4 tiles to make a 4’ x 8’ surface. (Is there anything you can't find on Amazon these days?)

They worked great, and are much easier to stash in a Manhattan apartment than a big blocking board. Oh, and I only had to shoo the cats off the table once.

• I didn’t think to look closely at the border’s points before washing the shawl. Once wet the points were hard to spot, and I had to look at the pattern again to figure out where to put the pins.

Despite all my clueless bumbling, the shawl is gorgeous, and I am very proud of it. Please don’t be nervous about tackling a knitted-on border!

Next up: The Alpine scarf in Helen's Lace, a birthday gift for my sister.


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