Today is the long-awaited day. Today we get to cast on Amor Esperanza’s beautiful Superscript Shawl.
In a few short weeks, we’ll have a brand-new fall accessory to wind luxuriantly around our necks and shoulders, in a hand-dyed wool from Santa Fe so stunning that knitters will stop you and ask for its particulars. Just in time for festival season, when you want to be wearing something that makes knitters ask questions, because that is how knitters make friends.
For those just tuning in to this knitalong, welcome! Here are the details.
We are knitting Amor Esperanza’s splendid Superscript Shawl. I’ve jumped into the pattern with both feet, and I can say that this is going to be a fascinating knit. There are long easy stretches for zen, and fun learning moments when it comes time to add the surface details. I’ve never seen a shawl with applied lines like this before, and I’m eager to get to that part.
Amor tells about the pattern:
“The Superscript Shawl is at heart a colorblock piece. You’re knitting with one color at a time to create solid blocks of color. The rising notes of this shawl are created upon—rather than within—the primary stitches. Using applied i-cord (in surprising places) and very simple surface crochet, you will create an embossed map that traces and foregrounds the angles of the design. The result of the surface texture and color contrast is deliciously graphic.”
Amor’s pattern for the Superscript Shawl is available now on Ravelry, right here.
The pattern includes directions for two versions of the Superscript Shawl, plus a companion cowl pattern that can be made with the yarn left over from either version of the shawls.
Here’s how Amor describes her yarn, Raíz:
“Raíz, which means ‘root’ in my native Spanish, is a 100 percent superwash extrafine merino. It is a singles spun base that yields a lofty and impressively squishy skein of 435 yards of fingering-weight loveliness. I named this base Raíz because since the beginning of my dyer’s journey I have been drawn to: 1) merino, 2) singles spun, and 3) fingering weight yarns. This combination of characteristics yields a color that is quite different from plied yarns, in that the colors seem to wrap, rather than sink, deeply around the yarn core, creating beautiful layers and depth.”
“The custom color palette that I created for MDK revolves around harmonious contrasts. Because the colors emerged in tandem with the Superscript Shawl, which uses three colors, I was moved to create a palette that would offer triplet color matchings that are at once surprising and yet clearly have charisma. I was also enchanted by the resonance of pastels as pops of color against a strong backdrop of deep, rich colorways. In the stitched landscape of the Superscript Shawl design, the pastel is sharp not soft, poignant rather than nondescript. And from these twelve colors, a knitter will find so many playful possibilities.”
In the MDK Shop
But First: Decisions!
Today, before you cast on, there is a decision to make: which of the two shawl versions are you going to knit?
Versions A and B are very similar in size: identical length (89 inches), and only a slight difference in height at the deepest point of the V.
So how to choose?
I had no clue, so I asked Amor.
Version A: Elegance, and full commitment to surface graphics.
In Version A, the applied lines of crochet chain extend to the tips of the shawl. This means that throughout the shawl, you’ll be working slanting lines of twisted slip stitches, to form grooves that will guide your crochet hook later.
Conclusion: for Version A, you’ll have to pay a little more attention throughout the whole project, and you will be rewarded with a refined result.
Version B. Simple ends, and a party in the middle.
In Version B, the long ends of the shawl are plain garter stitch, unembellished by crochet lines. This makes for more ease in the knitting of those parts—a bona fide TV knitting project.
The plain ends also mean that wearing the shawl will be more carefree: no checking in the mirror to see that your beautiful lines are facing up. Just give those reversible garter-stitch ends a sassy twist-‘n’-toss, and out the door you go, chic as all get-out.
Version B: left bank nonchalance.
I think you can guess that after hearing this, being me and not one to fuss as I run for the train, I chose Version B. But not without a little sadness about having less of the applied-line fun part to do at the end.
One More Decision
Here’s one that stumped me for a minute: which color goes where?
Here’s my Raíz triplet: Alliteration (reddish pink/pinkish red), Charisma (which calls to mind a curiously strong breath mint), and Sherlock (teal-tinged blue).
I couldn’t decide. Which color for the center section? Which color for the lanky ends?
Amor, who’s been living and breathing this pattern for a while at this point, asked me this helpful question: which color do you want to be near your face when you wear the shawl?
If you’re going to wear it the way I wear a shawl, all wound up around my neck, the color you start with will be closest to your face, and the color of the center section will be right there too, beneath the ends. The third color will almost disappear when the shawl is wrapped snugly around the neck.
That made the decision easy for me: I want the blue-green Sherlock close to my face when I wear my Superscript. So for me, those long skinny blocks at the beginning and end will be knit in Sherlock. The center section will be in Alliteration (red/pink): it will be visible, but layered underneath the blue ends. The pale green of Charisma will be a refreshing surprise when it manages to peek through.
How are you going to arrange your colors? I encourage a robust airing of all uncertainties and opinions in the Lounge.
There Are Videos!
To help us navigate Superscript’s distinctive embellishments, Amor has created a series of excellent videos. They are detailed, they are encouraging, and they show how to do it, from start to finish. Here’s the YouTube playlist.
Links to the videos are included with the pattern. Go ahead and bookmark the playlist now, or save this article in your MDK account so you can find them whenever you need them.
In the MDK Shop
The knitalong will officially end on October 18, 2019, even though everybody knows that a good knitalong just keeps going and going.
Posting a photo, either on the Instagram hashtag or in the Lounge, will put you in the running for juicy prizes, with winners to be announced shortly after the knitalong officially ends on October 18.
You do not have to finish your shawl to be eligible for prizes.
You do not have to knit your Superscript Shawl in Raíz, as beautiful and perfect for this pattern as it is. All yarns are welcome.
That’s our knitalong policy here at MDK: the more the merrier. The goal is to have a good time together knitting this fantastic pattern, getting to know Amor and her work as a designer and dyer, and learning a few neat knitting tricks along the way.
We would tell you what the criteria for prizes are, but we don’t know a prize winner until we see it. If you’ve followed our knitalongs in the past, you probably know that we are suckers for a gorgeous photo, a sassy caption, a silly story, or a heartwarming moment. Any one of these, or something else entirely, can capture our imagination and make us say, “This wins a prize!” Remember Mason-Dixon Knitting Rule No. 1: Knitting Is Supposed to Be Fun.
Off we go!