Monday, May 07, 2007

Flaming Peacocks Batman!

So it is done: I spun more silk, knitted and finished the Peacock Feathers scarf:
peacock white2
Details: Pattern from Fiddlesticks, by Dorothy Siemens, knitted in handspun bombyx silk, size 0 needles, about 64" point to point, and 31" neck to tip.

It's a beautiful pattern, one that I wanted to do the instant I knew I could knit lace, but I really don't wear shawls. I thought a scarf would better suit me, and now I have a travel scarf: easy to pack, small, capable of being bundled into a pillow on a plane or train, easy to whip out should I need to appear modest (!) and just a little something if there is a cold draft on my neck. Traveling. You know how unpredictable it is, and how uncomfortable it is. I take my comforts with me.

There were no real glitches in the pattern itself, although I did get off track once in the knitting. I had to rip back a few rows, which caused me much consternation until I figured out a slick way to do it: I slipped out the needle, and ironed the scarf. Then I carefully pulled back three rows, to a purl-back row. All the stitches stayed in neat little loops until I pulled them out because the ironing blocked them in place. A quick zip through them with the needle, and I was back on track.

I did a variation on the edging:
peacock edging

I thought the crocheted loops specified in the pattern would just be an invitation to catch it on anything and everything, so I did a knitted picot bind off, found here. This bind off works better for me, and I think it will catch less than the crochet loops in the pattern, but clearly I will have to be careful when wearing it and not flail around in my usual fashion.

I like the drape, the handle, the size and the weight of it all:
peacock white

But of course, not the color:
flaming peacock big

Holy Candleflame!

I painted the scarf with thickened dyes:
painting peacocks

Details: Lanaset dyes, mixed to a 2% solution, then added to an alginate painting base. The scarf is stretched out on plastic, then each color added in succession:

painting peacocks2

Then it is folded in plastic, and steamed:
steaming peacocks

This is not an original idea. I recalled seeing an article in Spin-Off (Spring 1997) about a crocheted pineapple shawl, painted to look like peacock feathers. The beautiful silk shawl was done by Ann Welch, for a conference of the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners in 1991.

Margaret Stove also has a painted shawl in her book Creating Original Handknitted Lace: hers is a sea-themed circular shawl called Sea Spray and Scallop Shells. Rumor has it that Lacis is reprinting Margaret's book. Margaret will be teaching this Fall at SOAR in Michigan. I can't wait to meet her, and see all her beautiful knitted lace.

While I was painting the scarf, I wondered whether it would ever be possible to knit-paint-then-reknit the scarf like Nancy does with her work, and have the colors come out right. I don't plan to try it on this one, and my gauge is not even enough to begin to think about a large project like this, but it was interesting to think about. If one could do it, I think it would be beautiful.

I also thought of friend Freyalynn, who spins and knits modular motifs with well-planned color placement (see her Misty Mountain Shawl in the Fall 2003 Spin-Off). This pattern would be hard to pre-plan all the color in the spinning, but a modular adaptation is possible. Hard, but possible. Must think further.

All this, of course, illustrates my design process: work begets work. I would not think up half the stuff that I do by just sitting and contemplating. The work itself inspires the next step, the next idea, the next project. That time issue means that I have to write things down, or I will forget them before I have the time to experiment. I keep a very messy journal full of little notes, some of which I can no longer discern. No matter! There's plenty of inspiration left that I can read :).

Like June, I had a garment in mind to wear with this scarf:
peacock with jacket2

A red silk jacket I bought more than a year ago while I was in San Diego.

The jacket and scarf will be going with me next weekend to Ontario, and the Handweavers Conference. Ann Welch, the spinner of the Pineapple Shawl from Spin-Off 1997 is from Kitchener, Ontario, not too far from St. Catharines, where I will be. Ann's shawl took a prize at the same conference, sixteen years ago. Small world.

Also, small world story again, Dorothy Siemens, the designer of the Peacock Feathers Shawl, is from Toronto, which is close to St. Catharines. So my scarf will be making a pilgrimage home, so to speak.

There are no accidents. There are no coincidences. Wonder what this all means? Holy Candleflame Batman! Perhaps I will find out.


Blogger Unknown said...

Zowie! I love this pattern, although I barely knit, much less knit lace.

I do have to say that as I was leaning every nearer to see the detail and scrolling down, the color really shocked me... I know these are your signature colors, but interested in why you didn't go with the traditional blue/green peacock colors?

8:39 AM  
Blogger Dallas Schulze said...

What a lovely scarf. I just finished this pattern as a shawl and I'm really happy with it but I'm dazzled by what you did with dyes. It's absolutely gorgeous!

9:08 AM  
Blogger margene said...

I've often thought about knitting a white shawl with the idea of dyeing it after completion. You make it look so easy. Beautiful! It will be fabulous with a red jacket.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Woven Spun said...

Totally stunning. I am in awe of your talent and abilities.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Anne P said...

Really, it pains me to look at the shawl - it is simply that stunning. Much much more you in the hand-painted version. Not that the white isn't nice...but...oof... the hand-painted colors kick it. Rock on.

11:06 AM  
Blogger June said...

Yay! I love your deviation from traditional "peacock colors"!

11:19 AM  
Blogger Marlene said...

Wowsers. Your shawl if fabulous! If there are truly no accidents then I must have been guided here for the inspiration. I may have stumbled upon the way to liven up the ho-hum shawlette that I just finished.

4:21 PM  
Blogger soxchik said...

Oh Lamby, that came out so cool. What a terrific idea to paint the motifs. You rock !

7:19 PM  
Blogger N. Maria said...

Only one word for your work - stunning!
I am totally impressed with your own way of doing things.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Marie said...

As usual, you have inspired me! My favorite shawl is a Faroe design, knit in a very boring oameal wool. I have alginate, I have dye, I've been inspired! I love your flame colors. Very pretty! The shawl-ette is wonderful.

6:34 AM  
Blogger claudia said...

At first when I saw the white I thought I was at the wrong blog. I saw that Margaret Stove painted scarf in person....I took a workshop with her after that VK article came out. Your colors (unsurprisingly) are more fabulous.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Sue Bleiweiss said...


10:34 AM  
Blogger woolydaisy said...

the colorway is absolutely colossal!!!!!-i can't even imagine the counting involved.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Charleen said...

Dazzling, Sara! I have been toying with the knit, dye, reknit idea too but I'm going bonkers trying to figure out the math.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Leigh said...

Wow! Your scarf is absolutely beautiful. And as usual, you inspire me onwards. I only wish I was a faster knitter(!)

8:00 PM  
Blogger Louisa said...

Yahoo! That shawl is soooo gorgeous, Sara! Glad I'm not the only one who is brave enough to dye lace after all the work of knitting it. It's much more personalized now and looks wonderful on you. Congrats!

I just bought Fiddlesticks' Paisley Long Shawl pattern but it'll be awhile before I get to do something with it. Dorothy's patterns are so professionally written and packaged. Worth the money for all the enjoyment of knitting.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Debbi said...

Gorgeous and inspiring as always!

7:37 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I am in awe! What a great idea and so beautifully executed! I love love love it! Thanks for the inspiration!

4:26 AM  
Blogger Abby Franquemont said...

Sara, I'm getting the impression that you like orange-related colours.

Something about this post, other than the beauty of your shawl of course, had been tickling the back of my mind, and this morning, I finally realized what it was. You had started with the LIGHT colour, and then moved to the darker colour, which is the opposite of what I always tend to do for some reason, when working with multiple colours -- something I'd never really thought about, just always done.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Birdsong said...

Absolutely fabulous from start to finish, but then what else?! The colors are a striking variation on a theme and will really pop against your lovely jacket. I hope you have a wonderful time on your trip, and you will surely stand out, even in that crowd.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Hege said...

Your shawl is fabulous! I love how you painted it! The gradations of color are just beautiful.

1:21 PM  

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