Percy Conquered

So poor Percy… I had such a great head of steam going on this shawl, then ran out of yarn about 4 days before I went to Chicago, and by the time I got home from Chicago, I was definitely in no condition to be spinning. That might have been my biggest heartbreak about the accident at the time. However, now that my dear doctor has prescribed spinning…

But I suppose I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself here and should take you back to the beginning of the story…

There was a moment between my Alaska and Chicago trips this summer when everything just came together perfectly, encouraging me to do something crazy. I’d come home from the spinning retreat having finished my second skein of handspun yarn, and it was big enough to actually do something with it. I’d found it rather needful to surf Ravelry looking for options one evening, and the Percy Shawl by Sanne Kalkman just kept jumping out at me as being special enough for my first ever handspun knitting project. Then, much to my surprise, our Knitting the Classics group on Yahoo decided to do the Percy Shawl as a KAL. I suggested starting on the anniversary of his death (The shawl is named for Percy Bysshe Shelley.) and trying to be done by the anniversary of his birth, so cast on was July 8, with an August finish date targeted.

From the moment I cast on, I was in love! I had no idea just how much more awesome it is to knit with one’s own handspun yarn, and the pattern is pretty cool, too. 🙂 It was really tough to discipline myself not to just drop all my necessary, between trips work and give in to the magnetic draw of this project.

Even when I totally lost my ability to count clear to three in the middle section and tinked repeatedly, I loved every moment of the experience.

Then, a few days before I was to leave for Chicago, a minor tragedy blessing occurred. I ran out of yarn. I still had fiber left, but when the bobbin had filled, I’d stopped spinning. The good part of this was that it meant I really had no choice but to focus on what I was supposed to be doing instead of knitting Percy. On the other hand, it about drove me to distraction to have to halt a project so close to the end – and right in the middle of the nupps, which I had finally gotten down to a fine science. I was seriously annoyed! It did, however, give me a compelling reason to look forward to coming home from my trip. 😉

Then, I tumbled on the way to the airport heading home. 😦 Six long weeks of looking at my nearly done Percy, which was cuddled longingly against the bag of remaining fiber… Despite the major amount of knitting I was accomplishing, I couldn’t keep my mind of Percy, especially as I watched the target completion date come and go.

Finally, I was actually told I was SUPPOSED to spin – HURRAH! So what’s the first thing I did? Panicked! I have so little experience on the wheel, that it suddenly hit me I didn’t have a snowball’s chance of spinning yarn that matched the original… sigh… So I grabbed something totally different to warm up – the yarn I am now knitting into Catenary. At the beginning of this past weekend, though, I was out of excuses, and I knew I needed to face the fiber.

I learned a lot! The first thing I learned is that I’ve learned a lot. I’m not a good spinner yet, but I’m a much better spinner than I was two skeins ago. My new yarn is much more even – actually too even to blend in with the old yarn on this project. Thankfully, with where it falls in the shawl, that doesn’t much show – though I wouldn’t want the piece scrutinized by a judge or anything. 😉 The second thing I learned is that even a beginner can make dramatically different yarns from the same wad of roving… But the funniest discovery was that somehow with all that, my new yarn came out within a few inches of being the same number of yards per ounce as the original. I was pleased with that – though it was also a jolt. So many people believe that yards per ounce/pound is the ultimate way to judge whether yarns match, but I’m here to tell you that is definitely not the case! My two examples feel, drape, handle, and look totally different from one another – and they are even from the same hunk of wool!

Once I washed and dried my new yarn, it was no effort at all to pick up Percy to knit, despite my current addiction to Catenary, and in a few hours (most of which were spent concurrently in fervent prayer that the additional 113 yards I’d squeezed out of the remaining fiber would hold out ’til the end) I had Master Percy finished, cast off, sewn in and ready to block. A few hours after that, the sun rose on a perfectly splendid day, blessed with a warm, dry breeze and a clear, sunny, late summer sky. I had Percy soaking in a matter of minutes and blocked before breakfast. 🙂 Although it was warm and dry to the touch by lunchtime, I left it out for the rest of the day, as wool can retain a good amount of moisture and still feel dry.

Looks a bit like a huge moth landed on the fence, doesn’t it?

It’s a little bit impossible to get perfectly even nupps with beginner’s handspun yarn. 😉

As much as I loved it before, I’m totally blown away by it blocked. I’m doing the happy dance tonight! 😀

Vital Statistics – Percy, by Sanne Kalkman, is available as a free download on Ravelry. Mine was knit with 500 yards of handspun that vacillated from sock to sport weight wool yarn on size 6 needles. Finished wingspan is 60″, and the center back measures 29″ long.

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That’s gorgeous! Your story has inspired me to do the same pattern with my own homespun. It will be my first homespun knitting project too!!
    And, WHO said that nupps have to be even? Huh? Huh? Huh?
    Percy’s nupps are perfectly wonderful.

  2. Oh DeDe!! It’s GORGEOUS!!!! You have a work of art there. Beautiful to look at I can imagine when you wear it! Something to be very proud of for sure!!

  3. OHMYGOSH!!! This is just beautiful! What a wonderful story and what exquisite work! Congratulations:) Now I’m going to look up this pattern on ravelry, LOL:)! You have inspired me!
    Well done:)!

  4. DeDe, it’s just beautiful! You are too modest about your “beginner” yarn. My beginner yarn looked like bulky novelty yarn. You are inspiring!

  5. That is truly stunning! I wish I had your knitting talents 🙂 Maybe someday…
    Cheers,
    Terry

  6. That is gorgeous! You did very well. You were able to match your yarn almost perfectly, and I know that is really hard to do. We are told to keep good notes, and to keep a sample, but we know what we are spinning, don’t we — so we never bother.

    You are very consistent in your spinning, and I really like the final yarn. Looks very good.

    You are quite correct that knitting with your own handspun (or any handspun) is a whole new experience, and I can’t describe what it feels like. (We’ll not tell anyone, and those other poor non-spinners just won’t know what it’s like.) And I’m so glad you are enjoying your spinning, because, after all, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

  7. WOW what a beautiful shawl! You should be very proud. My goodness it will just get better and better, you are an awesume spinner and knitter!
    conga rats!
    Dori Ann

  8. Simply gorgeous! Your yarn is beautiful, too!


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