Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finished Object: A Shawl For Spring

I was thinking of calling this shawl "The Beacon" because I knitted it, in some way, to draw out the inscrutable spring:

Mizutama Shawl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian




I am very pleased with the result, if not the process. I'll speak to that process more in my next post, but for now let's just say, you won't be seeing a lot of new lacework in my knitting queue anytime again soon.

A luck would have it, Andrea and Sara were as intrigued by this pattern as was I - so much so that they suggested a mini KAL, just the three of us, to make a trio of candy-coloured spring offerings.
You will hear from those ladies, about their experiences, in their time so please stay tuned.

I will say, it was tremendously pleasant, in the midst of some maddening knitting, to know that I had company. We even bought our yarn together - for colour coordination! So there's solidarity in this knit-along.

About The Yarn

You know that I'm perennially positive about Madeline Tosh yarns, but I'm not really feeling this Merino Light. It's a single-ply yarn with lots of natural variation in thickness. I didn't find it weak (though it did get thin in some spots) but I did find it uneven - and stupidly splitty (a nightmare with lacework). It also dyed my hands for days. If you read the reviews of the yarn on Ravelry, you'll find a polarized community. Many corroborate my issues. Some experienced much more extreme cases of the same. Still others love this yarn to bits and don't understand what all the fuss is about. I think the batches vary wildly. In worst case scenarios, people haven't been able to wind the yarn without breakage or matting, so I suggest that you have your skeins wound at the store. Then, if you find there's an issue, you won't have trudged it all home.

Having said this, Sara loves Tosh Merino Light and she's used it many times. Moreover, how often can you make an item out of one skein of yarn, for $25.00? I cannot quibble with the colour, which is flat out gorgeous. I just hope it doesn't continue to bleed. (It didn't dye the water as much as I thought it would, given the amount of pink on my hands.)

The yarn blocks quite easily and well. It doesn't become a puddle of growing stitches when submerged in water. I used blocking wires and pins, which are non-negotiable if you want to achieve a triangular result.

For the most part, the finished fabric is even but there are a couple of errant stitches that seem to have kinked themselves out of place. I'm trying to ignore them.

About The Pattern

It's a good, clear pattern, though it does have a very strange way of instructing how to make the first polka-dot (if you use the bottom up method). I cannot fault the directions but I had endless issues with the stitch pattern - even as I forced myself to focus! Every other row I seemed to gain or lose a stitch at either end. It was maddening given all the mental effort I expended to ensure this wouldn't occur. I finally realized that it didn't matter. The issue wasn't visible as long as I caught up on the next row (I always did) and it didn't impact the polka-dot placement. Very fatigued at the end, I did actually fuck up the polka-dot alignment on my last lace repeat. Let me tell you, that's 2 hours I'm never getting back. With lots of sweat and concentration, I did pull it back from the edge. The benefit of such a repetitive pattern is that you start to understand how it works, how every stitch interrelates to all of the stitches around it. Unfortunately, this insight comes with hours of ripped back rows and half rows (a serious bitch when such a fabric).

Note that I used a smaller needle size than recommended, as I knit loosely, and I didn't want the stitches to be loose. There's already enough negative space happening in this shawl - it needs structure in its stitches. The result of this, compounded by the fact that I had 420 yards of yarn (vs the 455-475 yards that the pattern advises), is that my shawl is 2 repeats shorter than the pattern suggests and seems to be on the small end. It's not too small, but I wouldn't want it any tinier.

About The Finished Shawl

It's super pretty, peeps. Very feminine, but in downtown way. It falls beautifully and it gives a good amount of warmth for its weight. I can imagine wearing it with everything from jeans and a t-shirt to a skirt ensemble or a dress. If you like making lacework scarves, do not delay. No doubt you will benefit from having this in your wardrobe. It's great transportation knitting as the 4-row repeat is easily memorable (if not followable) and it's portable.

So, what do you think? Would you make it? Would you wear it? Does the colour appeal? Do you think a candy-pink shawl is nuts? In a good way? Let's talk!

20 comments:

  1. I wouldn't make it (I don't know how to knit), but to the question of would I wear it it that's a resounding HELL YES!! It looks more red on my monitor, which would be my preference over pink, but the lacework is so gorgeous I'd wear it anyway. :-) Great job!!

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    1. Ha! OK, good to know it is a win in your mind! It's actually like a deep coral. It's got enough red in it to take any potential babyish out of it...

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  2. So pretty! I love that color!

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  3. It looks awesome! That colour is just delicious and I'm glad you went with it instead of the red we were trying to push on you. As for the yarn, this was my first time using the Tosh Merino Light, and I can’t say it’s my favourite. I prefer a plied, more springy, yarn. Mine did not bleed but I will have to watch for that as I wear it because now you have me worried. As far as the process goes, I can't say I've had as many issues as you’ve had (knock on wood) and only very minimal un-knitting, but I can’t say I like this pattern. Lace is not my favourite thing to knit (and this is an easy one as far as lace goes) but it is so pretty that I can’t say I won't knit lace again. As for knitting this shawl again, how about I first finish it? Only 14 more repeats to go. Those are some long rows...

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    1. I am really pleased with the colour - which is so awesome it justifies the yarn. BTW, I might use the yarn again - in a knowable context - cuz I do think it has as many good features as bad. It won't be one I go to, like the Tosh Sock or worsted. You'd know at this point if your yarn was going to bleed. And, apparently, the way to nip it in the bud, is to soak the thing with some vinegar and cold water (if you end up needing to go this extra step. I'm not convinced I will need to.) Aren't you starting to wish you'd worked bottom up? :-)

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    2. Dude, I AM working bottom up. It's endless.

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    3. OK, then top down?! You know whatever way starts off big and gets small. But I hear you, it's endless all the ways.

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  4. I excessively love this. The pink, the polka dots...so much yes.

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    1. It is fun, yes? Everyone needs one!

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  5. This is absolutely beautiful. And lace can be maddening, even a simple lace pattern. I haven't done in a while as my focus, on knitting at least, has been trekking through random jungles. I love the look of lace, but not always the knitting of it.

    I love Tosh in general, but also agree that the single-ply yarns are not generally my favorites. That is probably true in most yarns. But the Tosh colors, OMG, I can't resist.

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    1. The last time I did lacework was on my second project - that Jan Sweater by Susan Crawford. What was I thinking? I'm intrigued to find it's just as hard now, with 3 years of experience, as it was then. I don't know why Tosh is producing this single ply product. They should be applying all of their delicious dye to the best spun yarns. I suppose it's to provide a more affordable option.

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  6. As far as I'm concerned, you can't have enough pink in your wardrobe - it looks great in this pattern.

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    1. I concur with that sentiment, which is why it's my standard non-neutral colour. So much so, perhaps I should start branching out. Mind you, why change a good thing??

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  7. So pretty! I can imagine that colour brightening so many outfits -- I suspect you're going to wear it tons, maybe even in sunshine soon . . .

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    1. Oh, we've got to hope. It's slowly turning to spring but it's going to snow again next week. So it's hard to get too happy, even when the weather is unseasonably warm today.

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  8. Hello! I'm popping out of lurking territory to tell you that I have started knitting this out of some totally different yarn in a much larger gauge - and there is a sneaky K1 on the eyelet row that may be the source of your stitch number conundrum. If you miss it, you will end up off for two rows. Now that you're done, it doesn't really matter, but I thought you might like to know.

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    1. Ha! Well wouldn't that be just the thing. Thank goodness I'm finished :-) I did have the trouble on and off throughout the process, leading me to believe it might be me. But were it due to faulty instructions, I'd feel that much less responsible!

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  9. Another glorious knit! So beautiful.

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