theraineysisters knitting and so much more

June 23, 2007

From Susan — I’m Proud as a You-Know-What!

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Susan's — lv2knit @ 9:22 am

I am done with the Peacock Feathers Shawl — and it’s shawl-tastic! ;)  I finished the knitting several days ago but had not found a “block” of time to actually finish it.  

I am so in love with this project.  Sally said she felt like an alchemist or fairy having created her magical Peacock, and I would love to plagiarize her every word.  But if I can’t steal her words, I will say instead that I feel like Rumpelstiltskin — I have turned straw into gold.  It was merino and silk “straw,” but you get the idea!  I cannot believe that anyone can do what I just did (and obviously many others before me).  

I have never aspired to knitting these ultra-fine laceweight shawls — why would anyone spend their time on something so impractical?  Something that takes so long to make?  Several years ago a very well-known knitter and expert on cobweb weight shetland shawls (aka wedding ring shawls) was the keynote speaker at Yarnover (unfortunately I do not recall her name).  I was duly impressed with the knitting and the beauty of the shawls, but thought I would never, ever consider that type of knitting.  Never say never — not that this is in the league of those in terms of complexity or effort or skill (though the design surpasses them in elegance and beauty), but to me it feels like it! 

I feel like Rocky jumping up and down at the top of the steps!  Doo-doo-doo..doo-doo-doo…

So, let’s look at the blocking of Peacock.  How did I get from this, Peacock in its crumpled state:


To this:


First, I started by soaking the shawl in water for 30 minutes.  While that was going on, I set up my floor.  I obviously used old, crappy-looking sheets as a base! 

I laid out an outline of the finished shawl dimensions in string (you can barely see it in the photo).  I did this because Sally said it was a hassle to line up the sides, keep them straight, and measure to make sure everything was even.  Once my perimeter was set, I never had to measure at all, which saved a lot of time and effort.  When I flopped the wet blob of knitting onto the floor, it appeared to me that there was NO WAY I could get it to the given dimensions.  It seemed absolutely impossible! 

Here you see the first step in the pinning process — each feather’s eye is pinned at its longest point:


Then I just kept pinning:


In this picture, you can see my “chalk line”:




I don’t have a dancing daughter to model the finished shawl, but I do like this picture.

Sally said I am her inspiration, but obviously she is mine as well.  I had this pattern for years but may never have tackled it had it not been for her.  To say I am thrilled with the results is the understatement of the century! 

PS — if you see any mistakes, please feel free to keep it to yourself!  It’s too late!  🙂

PPS — to Michelle: it took me 6 weeks from start to finish, though I could have wrapped it up faster.  I did not knit exclusively on Peacock and I ripped back a couple of times.  Regarding Kidsilk Haze: I’ll defer that answer to Sally, as she has knitted shawls with both Zepher and KSH and can probably comment on substituting one for the other.

From Sally — I’m averting my gaze from the bad puns and just looking at the beautiful shawl. I think you could substitute KSH and it would be beautiful, but you might lose a little bit of the definition of the feathers. On the other hand, you’d get a feathery look from the yarn. I don’t find that KSH stretches as much during blocking, though — Zephyr Wool & Silk really blocks out a lot. So, if you substitute KSH, you might want to use a size larger needle than you would normally for this project so that your shawl doesn’t end up being too small.


  1. Mistakes?! Are you kidding me? It’s breathtaking!!! How long did it actually take you and would you recommend Kidsilk Haze?

    Comment by Michelle — June 23, 2007 @ 9:57 am

  2. Bravo! Your peacock is fabulous & you’ve every right to be proud of it. So, what do we get for an encore?

    Comment by Marina — June 23, 2007 @ 10:14 am

  3. Bee-Yoo-Tee-Ful!! Love the color. I wonder if it’s adaptable to a rectangle shape. I’m not one for triangle shawls. Points directly to my least lovely feature. Probably difficult to highlight the feathers in a more square shape. Lace is enough of a challenge for me with monkeying around to change the pattern.

    What’s next in your lineup for the summer?

    Comment by Denise — June 23, 2007 @ 10:26 am

  4. From Susan to Denise — I think you could make it into a rectangle, but I will not attempt the pattern revision!!

    Comment by lv2knit — June 23, 2007 @ 10:44 am

  5. Abolutely wonderful! I couldn’t resist any longer — I just ordered my very own. I have “promised” myself that I will complete at least one active project (we won’t mention the inactive ones, will we?) before I start. And just 2 days ago, I bought hand dyed merino that would also be ideal for a shawl.

    Comment by Astrid — June 23, 2007 @ 10:47 am

  6. Susan- The magic of lace. It’s incredible.

    I totally understand the compulsion to knit shawls. They aren’t everyday
    wear, more fantasy pieces, and we all need a little fanstasy in life.

    Three cheers!

    Comment by Lorraine — June 23, 2007 @ 10:51 am

  7. Breathtaking! Remind me of what yarn you used? It doesn’t look like KSH to me.

    Comment by kmkat — June 23, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  8. That is beautiful! Mistakes my rear end…the end result is gorgeous.

    Comment by Shannon — June 23, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

  9. So lovely… I love the in progress pinning shot… very useful to see how you started….

    Comment by Octopus Knits — June 23, 2007 @ 1:24 pm

  10. Holy crap, beautiful, beautiful shawl. Love how it turned out!

    Comment by Wanda — June 23, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  11. Wow!!!!!! It’s gorgeous. Keep it strong Rocky!

    I’ve got a shawl in my work basket, and you’ve just reminded me why I should pick it up again. Inspiring!

    Comment by LaurieM — June 23, 2007 @ 2:21 pm

  12. That is absolutely spectactular. I tried to find some new superlatives that hadn’t already been use, but seriously, that is just incredibly lovely in its structure and color and I can just imagine it on a textural level. Wow. I, too, would have been one to say I would never tackle something like that but now that I see it done, I’m not so sure. Thanks for sharing this project.

    Comment by Katie — June 23, 2007 @ 2:26 pm

  13. So freaking beautiful. I love the idea of “establishing your perimeter” and pinning to it, too. Someday I hope to make a lace shawl, but I sure don’t know when. But this is inspiring!

    Comment by AuntieAnn — June 23, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  14. It’s gorgeous! It makes me want to knit another one!

    Comment by surly — June 23, 2007 @ 5:33 pm

  15. It’s all been said, so I’m left speechless here. Beautificent (beautiful + magnificent)!

    Comment by Karen B. — June 23, 2007 @ 8:06 pm

  16. Absolutely beautiful. Every bit as inspiring as your sister’s — which also inspired me to purchase the same color of Zephyr to make one for myself. I can’t believe you finished in 6 weeks. You must knit like the wind!

    Comment by Amy — June 23, 2007 @ 9:26 pm

  17. I’ve also made a bunch of lace shawls with Zephyr. Not the most practical of garments, but so addictive, and lovely.

    Comment by ruth — June 23, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

  18. I’ve been contemplating lace for awhile now, and have purchased yarn for ohh, 20 or 30 projects. (Part of the attic insulation-ask Sally about this.) You have inspired me to actually begin. Your shawl is truly lovely.

    Comment by Marsha — June 23, 2007 @ 10:27 pm

  19. It’s absolutely stunning. I have this in my stash and it’s moving closer in the queue.

    Comment by Jewel — June 24, 2007 @ 10:50 am

  20. Some things just are so beautiful practicality doesn’t come into the equation. It’s lovely, truely lovely.

    Comment by Mindie — June 24, 2007 @ 1:09 pm

  21. Beautiful!

    Comment by Wendy O'C — June 24, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  22. Wowza! Gotta love the magic of blocking. Beautifully done! You’ve created an heirloom.

    Comment by Melanie — June 24, 2007 @ 6:16 pm

  23. It is absolutely exquisite! What a gorgeous job you did! 🙂

    Comment by Romi — June 24, 2007 @ 7:53 pm

  24. Brava!

    Comment by June — June 24, 2007 @ 9:17 pm

  25. Why does seeing this make me want to run out and get the pattern so I can make this beautiful shawl? It’s so lovely.

    Comment by Gale — June 25, 2007 @ 8:23 am

  26. The shawl is gorgeous. It certainly inspires me to get the lace weight yarn and pattern out and start a lace project. (I am not lacking in either one.) You and Sally are an inspiration to us all.

    Comment by Michele with 1 L — June 25, 2007 @ 8:41 am

  27. Gorgeous. I think I’m at row 80 or something like that. Seeing yours makes me want to work on mine again. This is good.

    Comment by Madame Purl — June 25, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  28. Stunning! A real beauty worth every minute!

    Comment by Carol — June 25, 2007 @ 5:00 pm

  29. Oh, absolutely beautiful!

    Comment by Carrie K — June 25, 2007 @ 8:24 pm

  30. It’s stunning. Thank you for detailing your blocking. Even though I’m only on chart 2 of mine, I have been thinking about the best way to do that. Did you actually draw the perimeter onto your sheet, or did you pin out a strand of yarn? Also, did yours block to the measurements the pattern said? I’m using the Zephyr on a size 2, hoping for a smaller finished size. I just won’t know exactly what that size will be until I’m done, I guess.

    Congratulations on the gorgeous work!

    Comment by Anne C — June 26, 2007 @ 9:09 am

  31. OMG. I’m a lurker on this site. But that is positively gorgeous.


    Comment by Tiny Tyrant — June 26, 2007 @ 5:05 pm

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