Tuesday, July 19, 2005

South American Snowdrop

I thought about what to take as a knitting project on the Peru/Ecuador trip for a few weeks before, even consulting with several of my knitting buddies (hi, Claudia, Joanne, and Martha, if you read this!) as to what would work best. Folks thought of socks, because I am a continuous sock knitter, but I wanted to do something a little more interesting. I don't remember exactly when the idea of a lace shawl came up, a slightly unusual thought as I am not generally an enthusiastic lace knitter. Sweaters, scarves, hats, bags, the constant socks, but no lace shawls - not for any real reason that I can think of, I just hadn't done any large lace items. Okay, this would be the perfect time, along with a new pair of socks for a change of pace.

Which lace shawl? I wanted something interesting, triangular, with a knitted-on edging. I considered the Strawberry Pie shawl by Alison Hyde, but it wasn't exactly right for this trip. Then I was reading Yarn Harlot's blog, and noticed her Snowdrop Shawl on the menu. Perfect, interesting but repetitive enough that I wouldn't need a pattern after the first bit, both on the body and the edging. The yarn? I had 1200 yards of Shetland handspun, handpainted fingering weight nicely aged in the stash, from a trip to Scotland, oh, maybe 17 or 18 years ago, in a mauve/rose coorway. Looked good, so I decided to forget about a swatch, and just go for it.

I cast on the initial 3 stitches at JFK, waiting to board the Lan Peru flight (the shawl is knit from the point upwards) and cast off at noon on the last day in Ecuador (14 days later). I was persuaded to wear it, unblocked but ironed a little on the edging, to the farewell dinner in Quito, where it was a big hit. People who had seen me carrying around the "pink stuff" on needles, and who couldn't understand why I would be doing it, were among the loudest in praise of the finished item. Go figure - one even wanted to buy it!

So here it is, blocking at home in NY -

This was done on a double bed, covered with an old mattress pad, which is my preferred blocking surface. It's in the guest room, it's an antique cast-iron bed and is therefore higher than most modern beds, so is a little easier on the back while inserting many, many pins. You can see that the shawl goes from end to end and side to side of the bed. I didn't ever measure the finished size, but I guess if I knew the size of a double mattress, that would be the size of this shawl.

Here's the detail of the patten:

And the finished shawl draped over the corner of the piano, showing the color variagation a little better:

I really liked this pattern (made one mistake, and it is visible on the last photo - can you see it?) and will make it again. It started me on a lace frenzy, and there will be more examples of that coming up. Next time, though, a few comments on spinning wheels.