I have shawl fever. I can’t stop myself. After finishing the Peacock Shawl, I needed to knit yet another one. The yarn I’ve wanted to knit with for a long time was even in my stash: Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Blush (Shade 583). I bought a fair number of skeins of this yarn a long time ago, but had never decided on the perfect project for it. Now I have: the Cap Shawl in the Victorian Lace book. If you have the book, the pattern is on page 28. If not, here is a thumbnail photo I was able to find.
The Cap Shawl is a circular shawl approximately 74 inches in diameter, and it may very well be one of the easiest patterns in the book. Even so, it is gorgeous and dramatic. It would be a great shawl for a beginner, except for the start. (I think that the start of a circular or square shawl can be a bit tricky for beginners, but maybe I’m wrong.)
Here is mine the day I started it (two days ago).
I was going back and forth about which size needle to use. The pattern, which uses Kidsilk Haze, called for a U.S. 7 (4.5 mm), but I thought that would be too loose. I started it on a 6 (4.0 mm), and that looked a bit loose as well. I jumped all the way down to a 4 (3.5 mm). I did that because I knit my Icarus Shawl out of Kidsilk Haze on a U.S. 3 (3.25) and it turned out well.
I finally liked how the center looked on the smaller needle, but I was a bit concerned that the shawl might not stretch enough when blocked and end up being too small. So, after about fifteen rows, I switched to a U.S. 5 (3.75 mm). Now, I might have stayed with a 5 except for one problem: I wanted to knit it on Addi Lace Turbos and the only ones I could find in a hurry (I’m a bit on the impatient side) were size 6.
What to do? What to do?
I decided to put in a lifeline, try the 6, and then rip back to the lifeline if I thought the knitting looked too loose. If you are unfamiliar with the term lifeline, it’s a way of saving your sanity in lace knitting. When you are at a point where you know your patterning is correct, you thread smooth yarn through your live stitches and leave them there. Later, when — I mean if — you make a mistake, you have a safe place to rip back to. (It can be very tricky to rip back down safely to the right row when you have all the decreases and yarnovers involved in lace knitting.) The idea is to do periodic lifelines — every ten or 20 rows — so you are only “risking” a certain number of rows of your knitting.
Well, this is not the kind of pattern I would normally take the time to use a lifeline with, but I went ahead. I was on my Knitpick interchangeable needles, so I just threaded some spare yarn from my Peacock shawl through the little hole you use to tighten the needle tip on to the cord. That way, I could just knit a row and automatically pull that yarn through for the lifeline.
NOTE: If you do this — or even if you are threading your lifeline through your live stitches with a tapestry needle, DON’T PUT YOUR LIFELINE THROUGH YOUR STITCH MARKERS!! If you do, they won’t move with you on the next row. Yeah. It would be a problem. Here is a (slightly out of focus) photograph of the lifeline right after I put it in. Note how the lifeline jogs around the stitch marker.
I have not had much time to knit this week, but the first half of this shawl is so easy (I don’t need to even glance at a pattern or chart) I’ve made some progress anyway.
Here is a photograph I took today as I went from a 24″ circular needle to a 32″:
Finally, here’s another photograph. I’m including this one because you can more clearly see the lifeline I put in two days ago. I’m staying with the size 6 needle, but I haven’t bothered to pull that lifeline out. I could (should?) put in another one, although I don’t think I need one. (Saying that out loud probably dooms me to some horrible mistake.)