08 June 2006

Alien Landscapes

After much obsession, I’ve finished the Icarus shawl!!

I took a bunch of pictures before blocking, too. I don’t know if all shawls are like this, but I found the shapes and textures of the unblocked shawl endlessly entertaining:

And here it is, looking like it’s dancing the flamenco:

I also got a bunch of closeups, mostly out of focus, that look nothing like the shawl, but which I think make for very interesting textures:

And then there are others which look more like alien landscapes:

Oh, but back to the shawl. This was one of the most singularly delightful knitting experiences I’ve had, and makes me really understand the term “process knitting” for maybe the first time. The yarn was so lusciously buttery, and the pattern was so organic (like I mentioned before), and just boring enough to be meditative, but interesting enough to keep me going. No terrible mistakes to make me hate myself. I think part of my pleasure may derive from this being the first project in ages that I didn’t either make up myself or alter significantly. The result was that nothing went terribly wrong, there were no unpleasant surprises, and I could just enjoy the feel of the yarn and the pretty surprises that kept popping up as the pattern revealed itself. As an experiment in lace knitting, I don’t think I could have picked a better pattern. I also love that it was all in one piece. No sleeves. No handles. No fussy bits at all. Only two ends to weave in (since I felt-spliced the others). A beautiful, wearable finished object, with no shaping, or seems, or ends. How glorious is that? If only I wore shawls more, and looked better in the light colors that look particularly spectacular in knitted lace….

Some stats:
-In the end it actually took about 910 meters of the yarn. That’s about 110 more than the pattern called for, and was needed probably because my yarn is thicker and heavier (18 WPI, a little over twice the weight).
-The last few rows, on c. 500 stitches, took me more than half an hour each. Yikes!
-I knitted this thing in extreme heat and humidity, my fingers constantly sticky from the warmth of the alpaca, and (for the last week plus!) in such rainy cold that I was grateful for the warmth in my lap, and at one point wrapped the bottom part of the shawl over my should while I knitted the edge.

-I knitted this through the season finale of Sopranos. Enough said.
-There hasn’t been even an hour of sunshine in so long that the last decent picture I was able to take of the shawl was somewhere in the first or second repeat of Chart 1!
-Blocking is hard, and I won’t do it again without blocking wires. To find a space big enough that I could stick pins into, I had to pull the futon mattress off our couch and lay it out on the floor, thus taking up all the space in our living room and leaving no place to sit. I couldn’t get the string I was using to hold tightly enough to really give me straight lines, and every time I tried to stretch out one side fully, it pulled the other side’s pins out. My lines are definitely not entirely straight, and the whole thing could probably be stretched a bit further, but not with the equipment I’ve got now!

Tomorrow evening, I promise pictures of the finished, blocked, dry shawl, modeled. But alas, if only I could promise sunlight….


Ann said...

Lovely, lovely work, Kate! Bravo. I love my blocking wires. Got them for Christmas and they really make a difference, although none of mine is long enough to block a large shawl like yours. To block my Charlottes Web I had to line them up. And getting the string tight? I put my pins in at a seriously severe angle, with the point nearly pointing toward where I'll stretch the string and it stays put...

Jess said...

How great! It's beautiful! Since I just finished Frost Flowers and Leaves, you've inspired me to put it on the short list for my next project. Thank you for sharing all the pictures.

Wendy said...

Thanks for putting up those unblocked pics - I'm almost to the point where I need to decide whether or not to add a repeat, and now I have a better clue about the unblocked proportions.

Looks great!