For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Stop Me Before I Swatch Again

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Dear Ann,
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:
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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.
Love,
Kay

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Hi Kay,the scalloping is a result of too few pins when blocking. Believe me you need tons of pins. I have seen patterns that asked for a pin in each and every stitch of the edge. There are ways to overcome that though. If you want to keep the moss stitch border, use blocking wires threaded through the outermost stitches. Those are available as Zonta Wires in the US. Alternatively send your hhubby to the nearest DIY-store to buy thin welding rods. They do fine too. Or you could knit a lace edging onto it sideways. Then you would only have to pin out the points in that and the scallops would actually become part of the pattern. I hope this helps.

  2. Kay, I adore your swatch! It’s exactly what I’m looking for! Right now I’m working away on my beach project wrap LaScala in garter stitch lace: http://www.morehousefarm.com/KnittingKits/LaceShawls/LaScala/. If you write out the numbers for stitches, it’s easy enough to do while watching someone get married on the beach and cry and explain to your children why you’re crying. For my next wrap, I’m considering Leaning Ladders from B. Walker #4 – I like the vertical lines and the double YOs. And wacky Loose Stitch from B Walker #3, rivers of uncontrolled overwrapped garter stitch through tidy channels of stockinette. I also like the ones that look like fancy fishing nets – a la alice *more – so many lace patterns! so little time!

  3. Thomas is the king of lace so undoubtedly knows his stuff if you do want to sort it – but you know I kind of like the scallop edge … it has a lovely organic feel. Curves are goooood – besides think of your health, no fingers pricked by hundreds of little pins, no eyesight ruined, no children irreparably scarred as you tussle with the lace …. what do you mean Drama Queen ??
    Heather x

  4. I have to say that I,too,like the scallops along the edge.They = a design feature !
    O.K.,I’ll e-mail you about this later,but how about we knit this one together.Make mine any shade or tone of purple ! Lilac is livable with.
    Deal ?
    x

  5. Wow,Kay, this is so serendipitous! The Florida swatches should finally be arriving tomorrow (maybe today!) and ALL LACE from the same 365 Knitting Stitches Calendar including Lacy ZigZag and a special one in Ann’s honor (sssh! it’s a surprise) So Karmic!! So Age of Aquarius! So..ok, I’ll stop :) Love that lace!!!
    PS- I’m making the IK Madli’s Shawl for Mom’s B-D in October, woot!

  6. Kay, it looks wonderful! scalloping edges included.
    i think I will try to swatch for the streaming leaves one still (ignoring the border instructions, of course), using a silk yarn i have sitting there with no particular purpoise in life. hopefully it will not need such a drastic treatment, as apparently the linen does (do i remember thomas slapping a linen shawl violently on a chair to subdue it?), to show me a decent leaf. I’ll keep you posted!
    also, it looks like you have aquired a new a shawl-along pal, congratulations Emma!
    and i had a look at la scala shawl! what a beauty! thanks to annbh for pointing it out
    ps: i apologize if this post reads a lot like a Sandra mag snippet. it’s the foreigner in me.
    benedetta

  7. Kay, if I may clear up Benedetta’s statement about me punishing linen: Linen is one of the few fibers that actually get stronger and stiffer when wet. So to loosen it up and soften it for once dry, you smack it hard against the closest convenient object. I have had one linen thread shawl that I could have used as drywall after blocking where I had forgotten that.

  8. Kaaaay, I just got back from Angel Hair Yarn Co and their new spacelicious digs, where in honor of their new address I purchased two skeins of EUROFLAX just becuz you wrote so contagiously about it. And just to blow your mind, I bought a VARIEGATED pinkyred/gray. No mere solids for me. Aren’t you proud of me?
    How many skeins does a shawl require? I feel like Ray Milland toward the end of The Lost Weekend, just completely yarn drunk and pathetic. “Hi, Pam. Um. Could you ring up this . . . Euroflax . . . for me? It’s not really for ME . . . well . . .”
    As for your adventures in lace, right on, girl. Lacy Zigzag is all riverlike and floaty, and I vote to leave the scalloped edges because it makes it look all complicated.
    As for me, I have too begun a shawl using the drifts of Koigu that mysteriously showed up in my suitcase from Omaha (I blame you). Unlike you, however, I am creating the world’s largest garter and drop stitch shawl ever made. A bedsheet, really. It is my sit-through-swimming-lessons project, as plain as rice but not as carby.
    I like how the skeins of Euroflax are so heavy.
    And Ben–oh crikey! I speak one and one-eighth languages, so I hope you know that my Sandra post was meant as a celebration of language in all its goofiness. From all your writing, I never would have guessed that English wasn’t your first language. What IS your first language, anyway?
    And Thomas–you linen beater! It’s the ultimate in bossing around your yarn.
    Off to swimming lessons and maybe, just maybe, a row of Koigu.

  9. I like the scalloped edges too! They seem sort of cheerful somehow, waving this way and that. Hmmm, a shawl along? I might like to join Emma in that. Coincidentally, I spend Friday evening searching the web for shawl patterns. I think it was a little overreaction to the scribble lace scarf I had just finished (#10 crochet cotton in ecru and Pronto in cantelope and honeydew colors), after being inspired by youse guys. This All-Souls Lacy Zig Zag is beauteous, and wouldn’t it be nice to finish it by All Souls Day? Almost sounds do-able! What yarn are you using, Euroflax Linen, the thin kind? (I’m just finishing a sweater with the bulkier variety).

  10. Ann – what size needles are you using with your koigu and how many wraps? I’ve been swatching using 7s and doing a double wrap then a few rows of garter – but I’d like to do a few rows of twisted wraps or something – more macrame looking you know? Any suggestions out there for me on how to loosen up with my koigu?

  11. I don’t beat my linen manually, but I do throw it in the dryer…

  12. Your Lacy Zigzag swatch is very stylin’ just as it is. I like the not totally straight edge! You will indeed be throwing it over your shoulders and saying ‘I’m so stylish!’ – but only if you beat it up first by the sounds of things!

  13. if it is actual scalloping at the cast on edge, you want to keep in mind that you won’t get that at the bind-off edge. thus you would need to knit two panels and graft them in the middle. if it’s on the sides you could always knit a garter or seed stitch border around it.

  14. Ann hb–Loosen up with your Koigu? I’M the one who needs to loosen up. I’m making this bedsheet shawl on number 3s, wrapping my drop stitches twice, so the net effect at the moment is a big endless sea of little stitches. I’m finding it very meditative at the moment and in the course of my knitting I have figured out a plan for world peace, a way to exercise that does not involve sweat, and a guaranteed method to ensure whine-free children.
    Oh, I AM dreaming. I’ll post a photo of my shawl so you can see what I mean about this project.
    I need a good stitch dictionary to explore the wild world of drop-stitch lace ideas. Do you have one that you would recommend?
    BTW the La Scala wrap you’re working on is just beautiful. I love it in a covetous way.

  15. Wait, who’s Ben? Did I miss something? Anyway, if you haven’t been over there, I like many of the shawls on Wendy’s gallery under “Lace,” esp. the Stonington shetland shawl. Most inspiring.

  16. Hi I am Ben(edetta) and I am Italian, my first language. I just like to confuse people…
    Love, ben(edetta)

  17. I actively seek scalloping patterns. More bang for the buck. Leave it, love it.

  18. Scallops should stay. I say that as an aesthetic conclusion, not just because I am the Anti-Blocker.

  19. Kay–The tribe has spoken. Scallops. Many scallops.

  20. Hmmm… Kay, doesn’t that pink square at the bottom right corner of the top (for now) pic of squares in the square gallery look A LOT like your Zig Zag All Souls lace? I love it.
    Susan

  21. Susan–yes! Freaky, isn’t it? Those squares came from Debi from Florida. You can read all about them by clicking on the Mysterious Question Mark next to the picture. There’s another lacy surprise in Debi’s batch. Anyhoo, it was Debi’s little diet pink lemonade square that convinced me, contrary to overwhelming public opinion, to border my shawl in moss stitch. Knitting to the beat of my own, and Debi’s, drummer. I’m 4 or 5 inches into my shawl and I love the nubbly linen moss stitch. Plus, I’m not sure that a rectilinear person like me can really do scallops. As Hubby likes to say when he is being (particularly) stubborn, ‘God isn’t finished with me yet.’ xox Kay

  22. Are you planning on doing this as a rectangular stole? I like the scalloped edges also. I have a bunch of the Euroflax in the stash just waiting for the right project…hmmm.

  23. Kay! I’m totally chuffed to be your knitting muse! I feel so famous :) For a simple lil stitch I just find moss/seed so soothing and so attractive, I bet your stole will be a knockout!!
    Ann, what did you think of *your* square?
    Thanks for the 15 minutes of fame ladies!!