Knitting the Almanac - February Square Shawl

In Which I Make a 45" Square Swatch

With the doldrums of the double knit blanket behind me, I launched into the square shawl.  I think this is really EZ's way of getting you to knit a second blanket without calling it that, because I have a hard time imagining what else a baby would do with a 40"+ square of knitted lace.  I heeded our author's suggestion to have a lace pattern picked out so that the ever-increasing square would not get too monotonous - I had had enough monotony for one month, thank you!

Enter my all-time favorite, most referred-to, most baffling, stitch dictionary!  The Mon Tricot Knitting Dictionary:  900 Stitches and Patterns!  I inherited this treasure from my grandmother years and years ago when she was cleaning out her craft room.  I love it for its unusual textured stitches for the sheer number of options within.  I selected a likely-looking, fern-y lace, tweaking it to fit more symmetrically, be worked in the round, and incorporate better decreases, and off I went.  I will say that beyond a) using literally 100% more yarn than I had estimated and b) getting a bit weary of the sideways edging (more on that later), the knitting was pleasant and uneventful.

Mon Tricot Stitch Dictionary

However, when I took the work off my needles, I immediately saw my error.  Instead of lying nice and flat, the blanket/shawl/thing laid in three concentric ripples.  How could that be when I had one the increases exactly as EZ described and double checked my lace modifications to ensure that increases and decreases were still balanced?  Well I had not taken into account, nor was there an easy way to tell from the picture in the stitch dictionary, that this lace pattern forms a bit of a chevron, so instead of the stitches in the lace sections running straight around the shawl, they wanted to wave up and down, thus "shortening" that section and making it pull in.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is why you ALWAYS swatch.  In retrospect, I should have been wary of a stitch pattern where all the increases were aligned and all the decreases were aligned.  This is, in fact, how you form a chevron when you wish to do so purposefully...oh well, live and learn.

 pre-blocking shawl

It blocked out well enough, but I'm not sure how well it will stay but after a month it seems to be holding alright, and I certainly would not want to inflict this on a new mother, cautioning her that a difficult hour with pins and a measuring tape will be necessary after each washing if she wants it to lie flat.

post-blocking shawl

I used my hand-dyed 'Sup, Sport? yarn in Spring Grass, which - barring any major setbacks - will be in the shop later this month is available now! (This is what happens when you leave a post in drafts for a month...)  It's a nice, superwash and nylon blend that is soft and versatile.

Ah, and I promised you a discussion of the sideways border.  EZ asks you to knit a garter stitch border on sideways to prevent the edge from curling and keep you from accidentally binding off too tightly.  She is absolutely correct.  It is way too easy to think you've bound off loosely enough, only to find in blocking that you've made a huge mistake.  Sideways borders are also supremely useful when you want to put a lacy edge onto something with a minimum of fuss.  The one drawback is that they are (in my opinion) almost intolerably slow.  All of that working back and forth, and sometimes in pattern, only to remove one stitch for every two rows.

Sheep May Safely Graze

I thought I would include a photo with the same sheep from the double knit blanket post for comparative scale.  This one is MUCH larger...  Here is the requisite link to the Ravelry project page, though there aren't many notes there.

This is the project that took up most of my knitting time in February, while it is still very useable, it is not the masterpiece that I had hoped.  I am looking forward to cuddling under it on chilly days at the office, though!

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