Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the whole world in my hands

So with all the gusto of a new year rolling about, I got it into my head that I wanted to make a lace shawl. A really BIG lace shawl.

I've been thinking for years that I'd like to do EZ's Pi shawl, just because it's simple (like me) and a classic, nifty pattern. And also because I have a couple of really beautiful skeins of handpainted laceweight alpaca in the stash, from Lisa Souza.
But then I decided that if I was going to do the taboo of knitting patterned lace with handpainted yarn, I should just do it up right:

Spiderweb shawl from Victorian Lace Today. And I'm not alone -- it seems that there were three of us who had the same idea at the same time! Crazy painted spinster-type women unite!

Doesn't that ball look like the Earth? The color is South Pacific (I think); 2500 yards, without a single knot or break. And so far, it knits up beautifully soft (not that I have anything permanent to show for it or anything...)

The circular start to this is a pain in the butt with laceweight alpaca; after an hour and a lot of swearing, I got it started. After another hour, I decided that my needle size was too big, so I frogged and put it away for the evening. After another dicey start, I got up to row 16 again, and decided that the pattern looked funny... and the needles were still too big.

It's a sad commentary on the status of excitement in your life when you start to solve lace pattern problems in your head while you are lying in bed considering whether or not to get up.

Anyway, after a THIRD start and a pretty good beginning... the needles are still too big. Threes it is. And I figured out my pattern mistake.

Meanwhile, after being frogged and rewound yet again, I was drawn away by the siren song of this:

Secret of the Stole II KAL. I am not much of a joiner, because I don't have the time to get on the message boards and chat all day and because I tend to butt heads with the rules, but this just fit, somehow.

The yarn is a laceweight Shetland in pale, flecky gray that changes colors like some people's eyes do in different lights or with different background colors. I got a cone of it at Webs a few years ago for about $10, and there must be 5000+ yards on the thing. It still has spinning oil on it, which makes for somewhat stinky, sticky knitting, but the swatch bloomed very nicely, and I have an extra-large bottle of XO odor remover that I am not afraid to use.

I haven't knit lace in ages, and it makes a very welcome change from the slog of acrylic that is the Eagle hat project (I'm cranking to finish 3 hats by mid-February).

The first clue came last Friday; I finished the swatch last night and cast on, and got up through row 12. It's a fast, easy knit that should be a good warmup for the spiderweb. Of course, I have now well and thoroughly cursed myself with that flip comment.

Friday sky from last week... too good to pass up. I'd love to put all those colors into a skein. I love that the creek is much like the ocean; never the same twice, and each view is unique. Someday I'll capture that mutability in dye on fiber... put it in the idea queue...

Saturday was a big day around here too, since we had us a spinning clinic with a bona fide celebrity... next time!

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