Monday, May 3, 2010

Swallowtail Shawl


Before and After: the Magic of Blocking


Nupps are a Pain in the Patootie

I finished the Swallowtail Shawl, my first piece of selfish knitting in a little while. The pattern is by Evelyn Clark and it is delightful. She wrote it so you have both the written instructions and the charts. Now, I like the charts because it's just easier for me to picture where I'm supposed to be in the pattern, but for those who like the written instructions, this pattern is for you, too!

I used Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud, the leftovers from Mom's Leaf and Nupp shawl for Christmas. The yarn is really really soft, but I don't know that I'll use it again for lace knitting. Straight alpaca is a bit clingy and although it's warm and has a loose gauge, it doesn't drape as well. Next time I'll save the 100% alpaca for thicker gauge things like hats and stick to merino or alpaca/silk blends for lace.
Anyway, here it is, the magic of blocking. Here the shawl before after I finished knitting it but before blocking:

Pretty blah, huh?

And here it is after a good soak and pinned out.

Muuch better. Blocking opens up the lace and gives the edges good definition. I must say I really love these blocking mats. They mean that I have to use fewer pins, since the fabric clings to it and keeps its shape better.

Here is a close-up of the border lace:
You can see the nupps in that middle portion. What a pain they are! They definitely add visual interest, but I either need to knit them more loosely or use a sharper needle. They slowed me waay down and I was getting really frustrated with how many mistakes I made. I dropped one entirely, so there's a gaping hole that's much bigger than any of the regular eyelets and there's another section where I dropped a stitch and had to be a little "creative" with picking it back up.

Clearly, you cannot fudge your way through every mistake, but I don't think they're very noticeable, since the rest of it is so complicated. Overall, I'm pleased with the way it came out and look forward (kind of) to cooler weather when I can wear it in public.

Etsy news: I'm still working on getting more things on there. The list is still currently full of baby things, but once I get through the current yarn supply, I'm going to try to focus on summery items for ladies (and maybe even work on the autumn rose pullover for myself--I'm excited about that one!). Do you have any suggestions for warm weather accessories? Let me know!

Speaking of fudge, I got an idea for nutella rice crispie treats from a friend on The Nest and they sounded way too good to pass up. I just threw a tablespoon of butter, a package of marshmallows, and 3 heaping tablespoons of nutella in with some rice crispies and voila: heaven!
I'll be surprised if they last more than a couple of days, but I'll try... Now wipe that drool off your face and have an outstanding week!



katherine said...

this looks awesome!

do you block everything you knit? or is it mostly helpful with lacework?

also i am so excited about your etsy store. i could talk etsy with you until your ears fall off.


Reine du Monde said...


No, I usually just block lacework. As pictured, it looks a little foolish if you don't.

Just about everything else gets pressed, though. I like the smooth, even finish I get after pressing it under a damp cloth. Exceptions are cables and ribbing--they don't want to be too flat.

I'm excited that you're on Etsy, too! Your napkins are absolutely gorgeous. I would love to hear any advice you might have about Etsy. As much as I know about knitting, I feel a little lost around the interwebz.


Michelle said...

Lovely shawl... and yay for Nutella rice crispie treats!!!