Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To christen our new blog...

... we’ve elected to join a new KAL! We’d love it if you joined us too!

I recently started following the “WendyKnits” blog. August 8th she posted a blog post entitled, “I Have an Idea,” and it struck a cord with me. About to finish knitting the Elizabeth Zimmermann 100th Anniversary Shawl, and wanting to knit another, she’s written up the design for a “fairly easy pi shawl that uses some traditional shetland lace motifs.” She has on hand 1760 yards of fingering weight yarn, and most of that yarn is slated to become this new shawl.

The thing that caught my interest, I think, is that she plans to start a KAL (knit-a-long) wherein she’ll release the pattern in pieces... a little at a time... and offer detailed comments as she knits the project herself.

I confess, I have no idea what a “traditional shetland lace motif” is. So, I did an internet search. From what I can glean, Shetland Lace is the opposite of Eyelet Lace. Eyelet Lace is mostly fabric with holes in it. Shetland Lace appears to be holes with enough fabric to hold the holes together. The most famous example of Shetland Lace is the Wedding Ring Shawl... so fine it can be drawn through a wedding ring upon completion. We’re talking “open” lace, here. Beyond that, I’m at a loss other than to say it is frequently mentioned in the company of Orenburg Lace... which I found to be almost as useful. LOL! They both seem to be beautiful examples of classic lace knitting with lots of patterning and I’m intrigued to see a Pi version.

“Pi,” you ask? What does “pi” mean? Pi is a mathematical term equivalent to 3.14159265, which represents the ratio of any circle’s circumference, (the measurement of the outside of the circle), to its diameter, (the measurement of the circle from one side, across the middle, to the other side; half the circle’s width). If I told you that it is “the same value as the ratio of a circle’s area to the square of its radius,” it would be redundant for you if you already knew what “pi” was... and mean absolutely nothing to you if you didn’t. Suffice it to say... it has something to do with figuring out how to make a circle if you are knitting or crocheting one. The only other thing I know for certain is that the concept of a Pi Shawl was the brain-child of Elizabeth Zimmermann, and is frequently suggested as a “first shawl” project, and can be found in “Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Workshop” book... among other places.

To summarize, this shawl will be an easy, really pretty, open lace, circle shawl. The rest, I’ll have to figure out later, but I’m not gonna let my ignorance undermine my enthusiasm!

If you’ve not knit a lace shawl before, this could be the ideal time to start. Getting a small segment of the pattern at a time will make the entire project less intimidating and overwhelming. Remember, all knitting is simply one stitch after the last... you can do this!

Additionally, you don’t have to start with lace weight yarn... the pattern is designed for fingering weight, but you could use larger needles and sport, or even DK, weight, if you prefer. Come on... live adventurously! Besides all of that, joining in a KAL means you have a place to ask all your questions and have lots of encouragement from others making the same project, including knitters who have done this sort of thing before. I’m not one of those.

This will be my first “pattern” lace shawl project. I’m designing a lace shawl... slowly... now, but I’ve never actually made a complete shawl before and never followed a lace shawl pattern. Because I’ve been collecting lace yarn for four years... a little here, a little there... I’ve got tons of lace weight yarn to use in my stash so I’ve picked out some of that for this project. This Pi Shawl is not a small shawl, so it is very appealing to me to be able to make a good-sized dent in my lace yarn stash! And I figure when I’ve finished this project, I’ll be ready to start either the original Pi Shawl, or maybe one of the EZ 100th Anniversary Shawl versions... and use up more of that lace yarn!

Another plus about this project is that it has five different stitch patterns... each could be a different color yarn if you don’t have enough of one color. I don’t have enough of one color that I want to devote to this project, but I have three colors that should look great together and between them, I should have more than enough. As long as it is all the same weight yarn, complementary colors, and can be washed in a similar way, you’re good to go!

In Wendy’s August 9th post, she talks about yarn and needles for the project. If you don’t already have fingering weight yarn in your stash to begin the project, check out Knit Picks’ fingering weight yarn options for some cost-effective options. One hank of Gloss Fingering supplies 220 yds of 70% Merino & 30% Silk at a cost of $3.99 per hank. Another great option for this project would be KP’s Stroll Tonal: 462 yards per hank @ $9.99 each. However, if you are game for a lace weight yarn, you might consider Shadow Lace at a mere $2.99 per hank of 100% Merino, 440 yards each! This is an incredibly soft, supple, snuggly yarn, in some beautiful heather shades... you’ll love your shawl if you choose this yarn and the price couldn’t be better! You could also explore the options at Little Knits or Elann.

If you need any needles, I highly recommend any Knit Picks needles. I use Nickel Options, for pretty much everything, but you might prefer Harmony Options with lace or fingering yarn for a shawl. I plan to use a 32” cable for this project and may or may not start the project with nickel DPNs. If not, I’ll use the Magic Loop technique to begin the shawl on my circular needles.

If you already have the yarn and needles you need, Wendy has posted the swatch pattern. Everything you need to know to prep to begin the project is already at hand. If you don’t have yarn in your stash to begin, you’ll either need to visit your LYS (local yarn shop) and purchase a sufficient supply of heather, softly varigated, or solid color yarn... or place an order online. If you order online, it’ll be a week to ten days before you can start, but from the posts I’ve seen quite a few who have responded will be doing the same thing and there is no rush on the project, nor is there any penalty if you fall “behind” in any way. Some will knit more slowly than others and some will not be able to begin at the same time the pattern sections are released so don’t let that deter you in any way.

Whatever other choices you make about your yarn for this project remember it is best to use an animal fiber yarn for lace work as blocking opens up the stitches to show them off to their fullest. You can block other fibers, but not as easily.

I will be winding yarn from hanks onto my nostepinne for the next few days, as I’ve got time to spend winding yarn, so I won’t be starting immediately myself. When I’ve got some of my yarn wound, I’ll take a photo of the cakes and post them here for you.

In the meantime, welcome to our blog! There is still lots to do before we are all set up so please excuse the disarray... we are still adding stuff and organizing things. I’ll be importing some earlier posts I’ve done, in time, but for now you can read them at the Knit Picks Community where they currently reside... or wait patiently until I get copies of them over here.

We appreciate your patience and look forward to visiting with you again soon! If you should choose to participate in the Shetland Pi Shawl KAL, please keep us posted on your progress? If we can be any help or encouragement we’d be pleased to support you in anyway we are able! Even if it means directing you to another source of information. :-)

Joy in the journey!

P.S.: If you are interested in the EZ 100th Anniversary Shawl, you can download the pattern free from Ravelry. You have to be a member to access the download, but that’s free too! There are already three versions of this shawl available on Ravelry... all free downloads.

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