theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 6, 2007

From Sally — Peacock Feathers Shawl

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Sally's — surly @ 1:35 pm

I retire from the world
Leaving troubles behind in my wake
To create something of beauty
So calming and quiet
And marvel at what I can make

I love knitting lace because it makes me feel like an alchemist or a fairy or some other magical creature. I take a lumpen, shriveled pile of yarn and by dipping it in water I transform it into something beautiful.

The Peacock Feathers Shawl is finished. It is absolutely gorgeous. I’m in love and I can’t stop staring at the object of my affections. I love this shawl not only for its beauty and clever design, but for its personal history with me. I’ve been knitting for years. I’m pretty good at it, too. But when I started this shawl several years ago, it was the first lace knitting I’d ever done. Yes, I’m that reckless and ambitious. Anyway, it was slow going and I kept getting distracted. Eventually, it ended up in the (rather large) pile of unfinished projects I have. I truly never believed I’d actually pick it up again. Once something sits too long, it tends to sit forever.

The revelation was that when I did pick it up again — out of frustration with the red silk shawl I was working on — the pattern seemed so easy and obvious. I got that thrill of knowing I had learned things over the past few years. I’m a better knitter now than I was when I started this shawl. How exciting is that?

So here are some photographs of the finished shawl.

Wet, but not yet blocked. An ugly duckling waiting to be transformed into a peacock.

Partially blocked.

Blocked. Pinned down like Gulliver. (Yes, this shawl is enormous. Size matters, and not just to Clay Aiken fans.) It measures 88″ across the top and it is 43″ deep.

Draped casually over the window seat. This is more true to color than the blocking photos.

Finally, being modeled by Lucy.

PS From Susan (aka The Jolly Green Giant) — right now I am absolutely GREEN with envy.  I have been waiting very impatiently for my yarn to arrive so I can start my very own Peacock Magic.  I cannot wait!  And seeing this finished is just about the last straw.  Get it together, Mail Delivery Person!  Can’t you see this is a knitting emergency!?!!??  And the color of my heart’s desire: Peacock!  Zepher Wool and Silk in Peacock.  Cross your fingers and toes that it arrives today!


March 30, 2007

From Sally — Lucy!

Filed under: Back Story,Peacock Shawl -- Sally's — surly @ 8:26 pm

My lovely mannequin has arrived and I’ve christened her Lucy, which is a nickname several of my friends have given me. I have NO idea why. Really. I don’t. (I think they might have some ‘splainin’ to do.)

Lucy is a bit bigger and bustier than I am, but I have broader shoulders. So we’ll have to see how she looks in my sweaters. For her unveiling, I decided to put her in a shawl I made last year. It’s the Autumn Lace Shawl, pattern and yarn from Kiparoo Farms. It’s a heavier, less delicate shawl than most of the ones I’ve made. That’s one reason I like it. The yarn is a deep, beautiful red although the strong late afternoon light in these photos washes it out a bit.

Taking pictures with Lucy was great! She didn’t complain that it was windy, she didn’t mind being fussed with, and she even let me stick some pins in her.

Thank you again, Kim!!!

Also in the oversize novelty box were these slippers, knit for me as a surprise by my big sister:

I’m wearing them right now, although I suppose I should decorate them. Thank you, Susan!

As for the Peacock Shawl, I’m almost finished with Chart 7, which is the last chart before the edging. I should finish it this week. I think Lucy will look lovely in it.

PS from Susan — I guess mine will have to be Ethel!!

March 23, 2007

From Sally — Seventh Heaven

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Sally's — surly @ 3:56 pm

This will be a quick update. I’ve just started Chart 7 of the Peacock Shawl, which is the section with the large feathers (before the edging). I’m posting a photograph although there’s not much to see yet — always the case with pre-blocked lace.

The color is deeper and richer than it looks here. I’m knitting it out of JaggerSpun’s Zephyr Wool-Silk (50% Merino Wool 50% Silk) in Mahogany. I’m using my new Addi Lace needles in a U.S. 4 (3.5 mm). I had been working on regular Addis but switched to the new ones when I picked this up to work on it again. They are a vast improvement; I can’t imagine knitting lace with anything else.

This is the first shawl I’ve knit with this yarn. It has a lot of spring to it — I think that this shawl will grow a lot once it’s blocked. So far, I like the yarn a lot; I’d definitely use it again.

March 18, 2007

From Sally — A Tale of Two Shawls

Filed under: Peacock Shawl -- Sally's,Three-Cornered Shawl — surly @ 4:04 pm

First, I want to thank everyone who has entered our Anniversary Contest; it’s been really fun to read all of your comments. If you haven’t entered, we will be taking entries until midnight on March 19th, Central Time. We’re using Central Time because that’s Susan’s time zone and it gives you an extra hour. (In other words, at 12:01 on the 20th, you are too late.) Details on the contest, the oh-so fabulous prizes, and instructions on how to enter can be found by clicking on the link at the top of the sidebar.

Okay. Now for the shawl update. I’ve decided to abandon the red silk shawl for the time being. I was close to finishing the first repeat of Chart C, when I realized that the chart contained an error. Basically, some of the double decreases should have been K3tog (right dec) and not SK2P (left dec). Although there was a symbol for the K3tog decrease, it was only used once on Chart C and I think, even then, it was in the wrong place. I had assumed that the symbol would show up on a later chart so I didn’t worry about it. (It doesn’t.) Seeing that lone K3tog symbol, however, is what made me really analyze what I had knitted thus far.

These are not great photos. If you look closely, you can really see how the left side of the little triangle shape at the bottom SHOULD be slanting to the right. It ain’t. I guess that’s something I should have caught earlier; it’s hard when you are still trying to see what the pattern will look like. Logically, though, I probably should have figured it out. The problem continues up that middle line of the shawl. The decreases are slanting the wrong way, pulling and creating an unattractive series of holes. I dropped down a couple of decreases and changed them to see if the look of the shawl improves. It does. (I don’t have a photo of that.) But I can’t really drop down all the way to the bottom. Moreover, this same problem is occurring on the sides of the shawl — less noticeable probably but it would forever bother me.

SO the question became leave it or start over. And if I start over, do I even want to use this yarn? Is it bad luck? Does it really want to be used for something else? Maybe I should knit this in my blush coloured KidSilk Haze, which was my original intention. I don’t know.

Once I start asking whether I should start over, I inevitably do. So I will, but not right now. When I do, I will make two other changes to the shawl. As a reminder, here’s what it looks like:

I know this isn’t a great photo — sorry. (I’m sick with the stomach crud today so I’m just not up for photography.) The wide bottom pattern (which is Chart C), uses the SK2P decrease in the center of each of the clover leaf motifs. I don’t think mine were looking all that attractive apart from the slanting problem, so I will replace that with a different double decrease. Finally, there is no strong center line up the middle of the shawl. I’m going to insert one. As long as I have to rewrite some of the charts, I may as well.

In the meantime, I felt like knitting on a shawl but I just didn’t have it in me to start this one for the third time right this minute. So I’m doing another head start project: the glorious Peacock Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Photographs of it can be found here and here.

I started this shawl a loooong time ago. It was the first time I’d ever knit lace. Yeah. I chose this as my very first lace project. It seemed daunting, so I put it away. Well, when I pulled it out yesterday, I realized that it’s a very easy and manageable project. It doesn’t take much lace experience to suddenly be able to read your knitting as well as the charts. Reading your knitting is a big help always, but especially with lace. It’s nice to see that I’ve actually learned something. I’ve been flying through it. I’ve just finished the fourth chart (out of seven). (If you’ve never bought a pattern from Fiddlesticks, the patterns are very well written and the charts are wonderful — they’re already very large so you don’t have to blow them up.) The fun stuff — the big feathers — starts soon.

I’m knitting it in a lovely, deep eggplant color. I promise photos when I don’t have to crawl to the camera.

PS from Susan:

I feel your pain — I have been sick all weekend with a cold. 

I also started the Peacock Shawl several years ago and left it roadside when I decided I was not enamored with the color I had chosen.  I thought it was “copper” but it looked more like rust.  Also, I think it was a bit beyond me at the time as well.  I am going to get a new color and start over.

On the Eris front: I finished all the hems and am wet blocking just the bottom.  I want to see how it looks after blocking before forging ahead.  If it looks crappy, I’ll redo the hemline without the cabling. 

I also made and felted two eggs, but have not yet embellished them. 

Hey, I’m sick, but not too sick to knit 😉

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