Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sometimes the Answer Falls Out of the Sky

I have been fussing.

I have been spinning this yarn:

blue yarn

from this wool, which Lindsey gave me, dyed blues and sent off to Morro Fleece Works for processing.

I started spinning for *the next* lace shawl: Frost Flowers & Leaves by Eugen Beugler, from A Gathering of Lace. There is a method to my madness, in that this shawl would be another step in the lace knitting repertoire of skills: it is knit from the center out, in a square, like Kerry Blue. But it is charts only (gasp! learning curve), and has a whole section of lace-every-row, rather than the more comforting lace-then-knit-then-lace row construction of the previous shawls I have worked.

So, a cursory glance at the yardage requirements (which meant a bit of sleuthing as the book itself is very unhelpful on this point) and I figured I would need about 3600 yds. of wool yarn. The skeins were coming out at about 300 yds per skein, so I needed twelve of them. I spun and plied ten, and have four more bobbins spun to make up the remaining two, when I decided it was time for a closer look and a little more figuring.

Ahem. This shawl, when made in laceweight on size 6 needles, works up to a 72" square (biggish). My yarn, bigger than laceweight, would make a bigger shawl, bigger than 72" square. Hmmm. I could use smaller needles and make a more dense fabric (but my handspun is already more dense and heavier than commercial yarn, how heavy would this be?). Well, each skein weighs about 3 oz., so twelve of them would be 36 oz, or just over 2 lbs. Hmmmm, indeed.

Perhaps a re-think. Maybe I could do another Shetland-style square shawl, using simple lace patterns for the center, the border and the edging, and try my hand at designing my own, within the rudimentary lace skills I have acquired so far.

Well, so a swatch or two was in order:


These are several eyelet patterns from books by Barbara Walker, Vogue, Susanna Lewis and Sarah Don. Local friends Lindsey and Dee have been very encouraging, loaning me out-of-print books, showing me their own lace projects and generally egging me on (whether or not that was their intent). I looked through their books, picked a few patterns and knit away, happily dreaming of various pattern combinations and how I would choose them. It was great fun, by the way, this contemplative phase of the process. I recommend it.

Then I went to Colorado, spent some time looking through the extensive collection of patterns at Shuttles, and found this:

boundary waters

Too pretty. Swatches aside (they were useful: I liked the size 5 needles fabric better than the size 6, and may even try a size 4, yikes, I've succumbed to swatch fever), I'm starting Boundary Waters next. Any tips, hints, pitfalls-I-should-know?

The Falling Out of the Sky Part? I had to call Shuttles and order the pattern, it came winging its way to me this week. I liked it when I saw it, talked myself out of it (more patterns, who needs more patterns?) when I was in the shop, and thought about it all the way home on the plane (more sky). I called, I ordered, Maggie sent. I recommend the nice people at Shuttles, who send me things I *need*. Funny word, that.

The fate of Frost Flowers and Leaves? It's still on the list, still a very pretty shawl which will teach me a few things in its making. I will spin some more wool for that, a finer, softer twist yarn, more in line with the yarn used by the designer. I may even have to buy (gasp!) a sample skein to use as a guide, me, the inveterate spinner: the no thank you, I use my own yarn person. There's some Polwarth safely stored in a nice box in a yurt somewhere, it just needs a bit of color added to make it properly spinnable.


Blogger Marie said...

Oh my, oh my, a Sara-cozy!

running away as fast as I can

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I know I'm a newbie when I read such effortless statements of having spun and plied multiple skeins for such a large project! I am in awe.

1:35 AM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

What a great shape that shawl has... I think you were wise to consider finished size in advance, since you want to be able to wear the finished project, not just have it decorate the couch (spoken by a short person who has made "too-big" shawls before). The color is very cool! What type of fleece/wool would you suggest spinning for socks?

10:17 AM  
Blogger Dropstitchknitter said...

Wow, indeed. That yarn is just beautiful. And I envy your quest - it's fun to find your way through all those beautiful possibilities.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Let me wish you a happy birthday - a day early. Blue skies for your upcoming year. You know, to match the swatches.

1:24 PM  
Blogger LaurieM said...

I've knit Frost Flowers and Leaves and you can easily knit it with fewer repeats to get the size you want. It will work beautifuly.

BTW-your spinning is lovely.

7:27 AM  

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