Sunday, September 30, 2007

FFFO: Forest Canopy Shawl

(Another long, image-heavy post. Please forgive me if you view in Bloglines. Until Blogger has a behind-the-cut option that doesn't require programming knowledge and the sooper-secret code word, it's the best I can do.)

Well, it's about time. This Finally F[rea]kin' Finished Object post brought to you by the letters OMG, and the number (US)4.

This story begins, as so many of my knitting-related stories do, with Yarn Enabler Amy. I'd been tossing around the idea of doing a lace shawl for some time, so after several previous e-mails on December 28, the irrepressible enabling individual purchased me a PDF of the pattern for the darn thing.

I ordered the yarn and cast on within a month. From that point until now, I was ill three times in two months, had 10 months of stress from Mostly Unnecessary Insanity at my (really) Very Fun Job, dealt with TechieBK's bout with a Crohn's disease flare-up in June, and started getting ready to move (coming in November). My hands were pretty tied at times...and not in any of the fun ways.

But in and around all that...with much cheerleading from the SnBers, my work girlfriends, and most wholeheartedly, YE Amy...I managed to do this:

My God. It's done.

On the rails.

In the bushes. And OFF MY NEEDLES.

Now, the Forest Canopy was pretty much a breeze. It was designed that way, put forth as an easy first-lace-type pattern. It's stockinette-based, drapey, and light (but not impossibly so). $6.50 gets you written instructions as well as charts, all of which walk you through a simple leaf pattern with a basic point border.


...and mid-blocking.

Other than knit and purl, all you have to do is YO and sl-k2tog-psso at the right places. And also not drop anything...which I didn't always manage, of course.

Fortunately, I'd already learned about lifelines. This saved my ass at least twice; the most I had to rip back was five rows. Amy suggested leaving one previous lifeline when I set each new one, which was great for my peace of mind. And Laura gave me a great tip for setting them, just before I finished the original row count: since I was working on the KnitPicks Options, I threaded my lifeline through the keyhole of the empty needle and knit on. Brilliant.

A few lessons from this one:

- I love Sea Silk.
- Even so, I should not try to knit lace when I am (a) so stressed out I'm vibrating, (b) so ill I can't breathe, (c) so tired I can barely lift the remote, or it is (d) after 10 pm.
- Even on the rare occasions that items (a) through (c) did not apply since the beginning, I was absolutely correct about (d) and always stopped working on it as soon after 10 as I could manage.*
- I can knit lace on slippery needles.
- I really love Sea Silk.


Pattern: Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence

Final dimensions (wingspan x center back, in inches): 66 x 27.5

Yarn: HandMaiden Sea Silk in Amethyst – one standard skein, plus somewhere between 2 and 4 yards from a second.

Needles: KnitPicks Options, US 4 (3.5 mm). I started on Clover Bamboo, but found the Options much easier going.

Modifications: Added several pattern repeats to achieve a larger shawl. Pattern was written for sport-weight yarn to be knitted on US8 (5 mm). It’s still a bit smaller than I expected, but thanks to blocking, it will work fine as a shoulder shawl.

Additionally, I shortened the eight-row edging to six rows. I thought that would give me enough yarn to finish in one ball, but alas, going up to US7 (4.5 mm) for the bind-off ate up much more yarn than I expected and I took a couple of yards off a second ball.

And finally, when I knit another of these (and I definitely will), I will change the center stitch. It was written as a k1b right side, purl wrong side. It looks OK, but I preferred how it looks on the wrong side – so next time, I'll be purling on the RS, k1b on the WS.

Pattern difficulty: 2 out of 5 (advanced beginner to intermediate).

Knit it again? Oh hell yeah. This is a great way to build your confidence and discover if you will hate, like, love, or become obsessed with lace. So far I’m at the “love” stage and expect to wind up beyond.

Many, many thanks (as previously mentioned) to everybody involved:

- Amy (who declared how thrilled she was that she was "a part of history" when I called her in the middle of binding off, and who was here to help me get the blocking thing right), Kelly, Laura, and Katharine all helped save me from disasters, ranging from simple missed YOs and lace "reading" problems to tragedies of near-epic proportions. All hail the Lace Doctors!
- Plus a little extra to Kelly, who prevented a total meltdown in my very amateurish pre-blocking attempt (which is better left further undescribed).
- Laura's additional contribution of the brilliant lifeline thing was a HUGE help.
- Everybody else who cheered me on (which was most of the Cafe Express group), especially Jenny (it's very helpful to have real medical help on hand when your lace is melting).

Now that I know that lace doesn't have to be a big bunch of drama at all times, there will be more – much more. I'm hooked and I can't stop staring. There's a big bunch of Sea Silk hanging around waiting for me...not to mention that Claudia lace silk (which is still trying to hook up with my MacBook – it's getting embarrassing).

Finally, one more photo for the road...because Pablo just loves being covered up (no, seriously).

He is so very metro. Though he did let me know in subtle gestures that the Amethyst isn't quite him and that he rather prefers the Sangria – more striking against the black and white, don't ya know.

On that note: Happy 10th birthday to patient Pablo (aka The Buddy, Buddrick McFatStuff, and Big ‘un) and his darling sister Pandora (aka Fuzz, Darlin’ Girl, and Sweetness). They don’t look a day over two.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go knit some stockinette.

* Well. Except for the night I finished the knitting...because I was gosh-darned determined that I was going to finish before I went to sleep. I finished the last stitch at the stroke of midnight.


Twisted Knitter said...

Congratulations!! It is absolutely gorgeous and I hope I get to see it in person sometime.

BTW, I just cannot help remembering that first SnB and both of us declaring our resolve to stick to knitting (mostly) dishcloths. Heh. From such humble beginnings.

I'm rather proud of you!

sharon said...

Susan, that's a work of art! How wonderful and beautiful!

Heatherly said...

it turned out so well! isnt blocking magical?

Liz said...

Yay, it's gorgeous! I hope I'll get to see it in person some time, but the fencers are trying to make me fence Thursdays instead of hanging out with you guys :(

Penny said...