You guys, it's totally and completely done. Ends woven in and everything. Done.
I have to tell the truth - this project was a total pain in the you-know-what. Right from the get-go I was having problems with this shawl. I guess the fifth cast-on is the charm, right? I have noted many times how crunchy and un-fun this yarn is, and I am standing by those claims. I never had any problems with breakage (this stuff was practically steel wire), but it was hard to keep an even tension because there wasn't even a hint of stretch in it. I noticed during blocking last night that my tension must have changed from beginning to end, because it was extremely difficult to get the width of both ends to match.
I have to tell you about blocking, because it is yet another funny story about how I'm stupid (see above link and scroll down to read about my mitten issues.) Oh, and I have to say thanks to everyone who was so confident in Blocking's ability to work wonders. I actually did go out and buy two more cases of pins before I started blocking, and it's a good thing I did. Even with blocking wires, I used over 200 pins (I used blocking wires around the body, and then pinned out the border.) Ok, back to the story.
The pattern called for yarn that was about 440 yard per 50 grams.
I was knitting with yarn that was almost 700 yards per 50 grams.
The pattern called for size US5 needles.
I was knitting with US4s.
Ok, all is fine right? I'm using thinner yarn, so I should use smaller needles. Here's where the stupid come in. After I finished knitting and got to the blocking part, I tried to block it to pattern specs. That sounds fine, right? Helloooo! I used thinner yarn and smaller needles, OF COURSE my shawl is going to be a little smaller. Well, I was determined (because I didn't come to this realization until I was almost done blocking) to block this to size and I swear I stretched that shawl to death - I was so afraid I was going to rip it in half. Surprise, I couldn't stretch it big enough, and only then did I realize why. I'm a smart one I tell ya.
Pattern: Myrtle Leaf Shawl (rav link) by Jane Sowerby from Victorian Lace Today
Yarn: Habu Textiles A-13 40/2 Kakishibu Ramie, 2.1 cones (about 55 grams)
Needles: Addi lace needles, size US4
Time taken: November 5, 2008 (cast-on #5, the real one) to June 30, 2009
I think blocking worked. Even when it was all pinned out waiting to dry, I wasn't impressed with my work. However, this morning after taking out all the pins and picking it up for the first time (I love that moment - the picking up lace for the first time after blocking moment), I was all of a sudden happy with the results. I kind of felt like I was picking up a thin sheet of homemade paper, but it was kind of cool. It was super flat and transparent and weighed nothing at all. Guys, this shawl definitely did NOT kill my love of lace. Thank Jebeezeluh! (I made him up.)
Ok, all my negativity aside, I'm happy with the results and proud of what I accomplished. This is only my second lace shawl (I don't count the Ishbel I knit as a lace shawl, a stockinette scarf knit in fingering-weight yarn with a little lacy edging does not a lace shawl make in my eyes), and by far the hardest thing I have ever done - knitting-wise. I had never done patterning on both sides. I had never done a knitted on border. I had never knit with a plant fiber. Even blocking was a challenge for me, which is not surprising as I lack any necessary finishing skills. I seem to have fallen asleep during that part of knitter training.
(The required shawl-on-bush picture)
I did have one little tiny, um, not issue with the pattern per se, but I questioned it a tiny bit when I was working on the border. (oh, by the way, if you have the older version of this book, there are a few errata and you can get them here or on the ravelry page for the pattern.) The long sides of the body of the shawl have slipped stitches on the edges, so that when you knit on the border (which is knit back and forth in a small strip and attached to the body every other row), you are actually attaching the border every two rows for every two rows, does that make sense? The slipped stitch spans two rows, and you're attaching the border every other row, so it all evens out. The ends of the shawl, however, remain as live stitches and the border is then attached as two rows of border for every stitch of the body. Do you see the problem? There are going to be way more border rows than there are stitches in the body. I realized this as I was knitting the border, but I thought blocking might help it because maybe the body stitches were wider horizontally than the border stitches were tall. Even if this is the case, the border on this shawl is much more bunched together on the ends compared to the sides.
(and this one reminds me of some sort of Indian clothing of which I know nothing and therefore am being extremely stereotypical)
I'll be packing this up soon and shipping it off to my LYS in Wisconsin. I hope it survives the trip and arrives looking just as good as it does now. Oh, also, the pattern calls for 1200 yards of yarn, and most people on ravelry used about that much, so how did I manage to get by using only about 750? I haven't figured that one out yet (I don't think the smaller needle size can really account for such a large difference.)
I think a little celebration is in order.