Stop Me Before I Swatch Again
May 18, 2004
Ever since I discovered Euroflax linen yarn last week at Downtown Yarns, I have cast my WIPs to the winds (well, I didn’t exactly have to CAST your Olive cardi to the winds; the jetstream has carried it across the Atlantic by this point) so I could swatch for the perfect shawl pattern.
It’s been a Journey of Flax Discovery. First I wanted to make one of the shawls in the Summer 2004 issue of Interweave Knits. Although I love Madli’s Shawl by Nancy Bush, I have enough self-awareness to know, without the formality of swatching, that I am not ready for Estonian Lace. Maybe by next year I will be churning out hagas and nupps easy as knit and purl. But not now.
The one I really adored, which happened to be written for Euroflax Linen, is the Streaming Leaves Shawl by Cat Bordhi. Cat Bordhi is the author of the tongue-twisting title Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles. I was stupefied (more than usual) by the instructions for the hem of this shawl, which call for not one, not two, but three Size 5 24-inch circular needles. You get to start out by doing something called a ‘Two-Circular-Needle Invisible Cast-On’–that’s gotta be fun, don’tcha think?
So I skipped over that part (“Ah’ll think about that….tomorrow”), and just swatched a repeat of the leaf lace. Didn’t like it. The leaf is outlined in reverse stocking stitch, which looked kind of clunky to me. I’m sure that after machine washing it three to five times, machine drying to barely damp, and blocking to measurements, whilst “pulling the edges along the leaves into curves”–it would have looked fine. But perhaps I have seen too many of the beautiful Birch shawls you and other Rowanettes were knitting up last fall–I didn’t think this leaf was as pretty.
Next up: For a brief 24-hour period of insanity, I considered making Birch itself, in a rectangular stole instead of the Jemima Puddleduck/Marmee March/Mary Poppins triangle shape (I bear enough resemblance to each of these fictional frumps without the triangular shawl, thank you). Thank the Lord, I recovered from that without resorting to swatching. Just reading the tips you emailed me from your archives made me reach for the smelling salts.
So I went to my 365 Knitting Stitches a Year Perpetual Calendar. First I tried my hand at October 28, an 11-stitch Open Weave Panel. Lacy but not too lacy. I figured to do two of these as the borders of the rectangle. Here’s el swatch:
Didn’t like it. (Note, though, my first and highly successful experiment with Scanning Wet Knitting.) Bo-ring.
Finally I ended up swatching a couple of days later on the calendar, November 1, All Souls Day, otherwise known as Lacy Zigzag Day, pictured at the top. I like this one because it is so open and airy. Athough it is lacy, it is not swoopy-doopy; it has a little of that squareness I revere. I also like that it is an all-over pattern. I also like that it is easy as pie to memorize and tote around to child enrichment activities.
So, Lacy Zigzag it is, for the 2004 Kay Cover-up. Before you know it, I’m going to be flinging it around my shoulders and going, ‘I’m so STYLISH!’
I could use some advice though. See how the edges are kind of scalloped? Should I leave them like that, or should I do a couple of stitches of garter stitch as a kind of border to keep the edges from curling so much? Will that look weird? Should I leave it as is, and trust to the washing instructions to straighten it out? Help me out here.