Sunday, July 09, 2006
The Wedding Ring Shawl or Where is Yoda when you really need him? (There is no "rip" in lacework)
Every choice in tools has a "downside" and an "upside". Straight metal needles have no join to ease stitches over. A join that may shred delicate yarn. However my pretties, straight metal needles are slick. My needles slid out of the last 8 stitches on row 26 of the swatch when I reached for a glass of water and those suckers ran like a pair of cheap nylons. Note to self, hydrate at the end of a row and not before! Here then is something that older knitters other than myself and my sister may have noted. The new generation of knitters call it "frogging" because they "rip" out knitting. Older knitters only use the term "rip" in extremis because in lace, unless you have admitted utter defeat, there is no "rip" there is only "pick" as in picking back a stitch at a time so that you can save your hard work. The Shetland is so fine, that at one point, I had to undo a "slip one, knit two together and pass the slip stitch over" using the point of a sewing needle. yes, it's that fine folks. Consider that before you start to knit on this weight yarn. There are some who use a "lifeline" (a row of knitting where you have threaded a contrasting yarn through a row of your work so if you have to rip back, it will stop at this row and save your stitches). I have never used a lifeline and only heard of this technique lately. In my day, there was no lifeline. It's a Yoda type of a deal, "Do or do-not! There is no try!" . I have now picked back to row 22, right back where I started from. Sigh. Yet, when I look at the pretty pattern that remains intact, I want to keep going. Knitting can be a very masochistic kind of an activity little ones so beware!
Now came the tough part. If you have to pick back too much, you have damaged your yarn. It is a good thing to become aware of your tools/materials/issues before starting the actual shawl. it will help you decide if you want to be in that much agony or not. It also has told me just how many times I may pick back before I will have compromised the yarn so far that it is a issue of soundness. And soundness matters in a piece that will likely never be repeated by me. One which will require a lot of time, effort and patience. Part of the problem is that this is a cobweb weight single. Unlike a plied yarn, it does not have anything to bolster it's tensile strength other than characteristics of the wool and the initial spinning process to bring it to a cohesive yarn. So I threw away my swatch and started again (remember, there is no "rip" in lacework).
See above, the new swatch up to row 32. I have abandoned the metal needles and am working on Inox circular's even though the only length I have in a US 0 is a 120 cm length (I have sent away for a 24" one as I cannot find one that length locally). The grey coated metal holds the stitches. I imagine this will be an issue when there are lots of stitches on it, but I feel it is better to be patient with this type of issue than to risk dropped stitches because the needle is too slick. Only 30 more rows and my swatch will be done and I can look at it. If I like it, I will do this version. If not, I will swatch the alternate. You really have to be a bit mad to be doing this type of knitting I think.
If you want to see the very first person to finish "The Wedding Ring Shawl", visit YorkSett (http://yorksett.blogspot.com/) . Kudos to her and the beautiful work she did on a shawl for an actual bride! What a treasure of an heirloom and what a very fortunate bride. I can only hope that my version comes out well too!
I will be working on a few simple knitting tasks to soothe my frayed nerves. Maybe read a book. The siren song of the "swatch" will call me back to it soon enough I imagine.
Until then, Happy Trails!