Sky Drama on the Needles

I’m laughing as I write that title. Sounds like a wild and crazy adventure, doesn’t it? Actually, it is, in a way, but… well… Let me start at the beginning.

As promised last week, I’m finally sharing more about another of my mystery shawl projects. It was a “life happens” sort of week, so yes, I’m behind. Anyway, this is the Fall Mystery Shawl being presented on the Icelandic Shawl Group on Yahoo. The clues are being pulled at the end of each week, so it’s too late to get in on the KAL portion, but if you are interested, the pattern will be available from Wendy McDonnell after the KAL is completed. This is the shawl that belongs to this swatch:

I’m knitting with some absolutely mouth-wateringly wonderful, laceweight yarn from Lisa Souza in the Sky Drama colorway. It’s the first of her yarn I’ve ever seen, and all I can say is that I’m incredibly glad I risked buying it. It’s extremely soft and wonderful to handle, and the colors have a wonderful richness without being too bold. I’m just not sure how to describe it, but the thought that keeps coming to me is that it just feels alive. The beads are Transparent Rainbow Clear Dyna-Mites in size 8/0 from Fire Mountain Gems. Beads are notoriously difficult to photograph, so you will just have to trust me that in person they add a pleasant, but not overwhelming, bit of sparkle to the shawl. I’m really pleased with my bead choice, and the holes seem to be consistently large enough for me to put them on with a size 13 crochet hook.

Now, I said I love Lisa’s yarn, and it’s a good thing, as I had a mile and a half of it to wind into a ball. (Any idea how long that takes?) It’s all – gloriously enough – presented as a single skein, and I now have an amazing yarn cake, especially considering I wound it on a standard sized ball winder. I was really holding my breath toward the end and fighting the urge to tighten my winding tension from the time I was about halfway through the skein, but I managed to behave myself, and was paid off with it working out – barely! I have to add that I’d been in fear of what sort of tangly mess I’d have with well over 2000 yards of laceweight being hand-dyed and skeined, but I was amazed to find not a single challenge in the winding – one of the best skeins I’ve ever handled. Get the idea I adore Lisa’s stuff? True confessions… I love it so much that I actually did a yarn ball photo shoot!

Don’t you just love the way the yarn wound into plaid? For the curious, these are all straight out of the camera. The last two are forced out of focus by putting the camera too close to the yarn. I’d never done that before, but I’m thrilled with the results. A fantasy would be to figure out how to make the last two photos – well actually all four – into scrapbook paper, though first I need a way to print 12″ paper… There should be someone out there that does that as a service – custom prints scrapbook paper from client’s own photos. Hmmm…

So anyway, the first clue for this shawl came out on October 3. I have to say that it totally confused me at first reading, as it’s not being presented in a traditional fashion. Once I finally figured out what was supposed to be going on in the first clue, I graphed it, and from there I was fine. The designer’s concept is to encourage the knitter to set up the basic outline of the shawl from her instructions, then work through it by reading the knitting. My brain just isn’t the most comfortable working that way, and since I knit for relaxation and enjoyment, I was much happier once I put the pattern into a format that works with my thought processes more happily. It was just too much for me to think about to have to watch each individual element as I worked along the row, taking the appropriate next step, especially when I was distracted by stopping to add beads. Once I had a graph made, I had smooth and happy sailing.

One thing that did happen in the graphing is that there was a set of increases that wasn’t working right straight off the pattern. I couldn’t figure out how to graph what was really intended, so I ended up creating (unventing?) my own special centered increase. I rather like the way it turned out, and so far it’s working well through the first two clues, so I’m hopeful it will continue to look good. I might have to incorporate it in something else one of these days. You can see it between the two diamond panels here in my photo of the first week’s work.

Since I took that picture, the second clue has come out. I’d moved the point of the diamond over by one space to center it when I originally knit this first section, but didn’t like that blunt end much. Once I read week two, which says to work as many rows as the knitter likes in the given pattern, I decided it wouldn’t be a problem to have an extra row on clue one, so went back and redid them to look like this. I’m much happier now. I really wish I’d paid better attention to how the beads were fitting into the design, though. I’d like them a little higher – but that’s probably somewhat of a hyper-detail that’s not really necessary…

Because this pattern is written in a way totally different than I think, I’m finding it to be the most difficult shawl I’ve worked to date. The actual knitting is easy enough – though picky because of the beads. My problem lies in being a mathematical/logical thinker. Once I get it all down on paper, and I can see what I’m doing, I’m fine. I am rather enjoying the challenge of decoding the concept into a pattern I can work happily. I’ve graphed, but not worked, Clue 2, and I’m already curious to see where this will be going next. Hopefully, pix of the second clue will be here in the next few days, so stay tuned!

I do so like Lisa Souza’s yarn… sigh… :o)

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What fun!

  2. I like the beaded-shawl effect! Gives me ideas for using our size 8 seed beads… Nice work. 🙂

    Dave
    at Rings & Things

  3. Looking good!

    I like your idea about custom printing for scrapbooking. You could probably get that from a Kinkos or something…


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