Swallowtail Shawl

bobinthebul's picture

Well, done with this finally. Wasn't nearly as painful as I had expected, though I have to say the bind-off was sort of excruciating. Not because it was hard, it was just...endless! The best part was the blocking, taking this more-or-less shapeless lump of wool and watching it transform! I've heard of adding a bit of starch to the water when blocking shawls. I didn't; does anyone do it?

It's being reblocked, and I was clearly being too soft on it before. This time, it begged for mercy. It even confessed to being a Diphysite. Haha, that's like, SOOO 4th-century. I told it to shut up or it would get the water treatment again.

From Knittin'
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Masala's picture

It is really a delight to

It is really a delight to see other's doing something so beautiful and would make me pull my hair out!!!! Excellent. Sid

IamKnitGuy's picture

I adore this pattern. I've

I adore this pattern. I've been carrying it around in my knitting bag for years. I'll get to it one of these days.

Great job! Is the yarn lace weight?

bobinthebul's picture

I just talked with someone

I just talked with someone who has made 7 of them, and is thinking of doing yet another! :)

The yarn is a four-ply, but not as heavy as sock yarn. Here they don't use the terms 'laceweight, fingering weight, sport weight, dk, worsted" etc. so I'm never sure about some classifications. I like the present weight of it though. I could also see it in something a little thicker like the rusty-colored sock yarn I used for the tabi socks. I think the quick color changes would make a nice effect.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

What I find interesting

What I find interesting about blocking lace is that you can adjust the look according to how you [the knitter] want it to turn out by the amount of tension you apply to it. Sometimes a piece needs severity but other times a softer approach may be called for. Either way, you did a great job especially with all those nupps. Nice work. Congratulations. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

bobinthebul's picture

I see what you mean; now the

I see what you mean; now the pattern is really distinct, but if I'd blocked a little less severely it would have been a little denser looking (not to mention a bit smaller). That could be nice too.

I do think I'll need to invest in some blocking wires when I get stateside. I asked at a shop here and they didn't know what I was talking about. It's an interesting phenomenon here that many of the yarn shops are run by men who know yarn but have never knit anything in their lives. My friend Berfin and I actually taught a guy at one to knit a basic stitch. I'll have to go back soon to get him purling. :) There is one guy that is on TV sometimes; he owns a yarn store in İzmir and learned to knit when a women challenged him saying that he was recommending an amount of yarn just to sell more but didn't really know what he was talking about. But he's a definite exception!

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Glad you got my point...I

Glad you got my point...I sometimes wonder if I'm making any sense to everybody else. I've not tried blocking wires but don't normally have to block anything. Most of my lacework is only part of an overall design and is knit so it doesn't require much - if any - stretching. [My one really large project was lashed to a frame and allowed to dry.] I find it interesting that men own most of the shops in Turkey but don't actually knit. Of course, given the male oriented society, I imagine there could be a group of closeted knitters who aren't comfortable enough to work on projects in public rather than face ridicule. Or worse. Which, truth be told, is often the case in conservative areas of the USA as well. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Tom Hart's picture

Since it's wool, cashmere

Since it's wool, cashmere and acrylic I'd say most people would consider it to be a full-blown polyphysite which of course is very 21st century.

kiwiknitter's picture

Very impressive! I liked

Very impressive! I liked seeing the before and after blocking photos.

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

TheKnittingMill's picture

Your shawl came out

Your shawl came out BEAUTIFULLY Bob! I love the color and your stitching is superb. I would have never guessed you're new at this. As far as blocking, the points may be retreating due to the lack of tension and/or steaming. It appears in the photos that you may have not blocked it out firmly enough. I generally block lace shawls with lots of tension, especially when I want to emphasize points. When it's about dry, and still under tension, you can steam it by holding your iron an inch or so above the yarn (let it completely dry before removing pins). As Bill mentioned, even if you use a towel or pressing cloth, don't iron it directly. You will flatten your nupps, and run the risk of melting the acrylic content. I use acrylic often and wet-blocking doesn't do much to keep it's shape. You have to steam it (as mentioned) to properly block it. Here is an excellent article on blocking acrylic/acrylic blends.

Tallguy's picture

When I am blocking lace, I

When I am blocking lace, I will put as much tension as I can on the whole thing. I will stretch it within a millimetre of its life!! It has been known that when pinning out a lace piece to have pins shoot across the room because they have snapped out of place and the tension on one side of the piece just sent the pins from the other side flying! I am not afraid that a yarn will break -- never has yet -- and because there are so many threads holding it together, they have a lot of strength in numbers. Because I want all of the stitches to show clearly, I must stretch it out to the outmost. When dry, they do pull in somewhat and will relax into position. To get points, you have to pull them out and pin them in place. Once dry, remember that all natural fibres will stay there. When they get moisture in them again, they will revert to their former configuration.

I would never starch any lace knitting. Not even cotton. I don't see the point to it. Maybe if it was a doily, but I don't do those. There is no reason for any of my knitting to be stiff. Perhaps if I was doing an Elizabethan collar ruff.... well, maybe then. Usually, I want lace to have lots of drape and softness.

I love your Swallowtail. Very nice colour, impeccable stitching, great work!

bobinthebul's picture

It worked! I took an extra

It worked! I took an extra precaution and used a cookie rack over the shawl when I steamed it, to make sure I couldn't accidentally touch the iron to the fabric, and did it in blocks. To make sure I didn't overdo it, I would steam a bit, then test an edge; if it immediately pulled back, I figured it wasn't enough; so I did it until it would stay where it was with only a slight pull back. I suppose the wool in there also helped. After a bit I got the hang of how much it needed.

TheKnittingMill's picture

Ahh...there you go! "I told

Ahh...there you go! "I told it to shut up or it would get the water treatment again." —O.K., that made me literally laugh out loud! I always tell my students that I block lace weight within an inch of its life. I like your dysphemism much better.

bobinthebul's picture

Thanks for the suggestions,

Thanks for the suggestions, and the warning! I think it's at least 60% natural fibers. I'm going to re-block it now, and will try stretching it a bit more, and will try the steam as well. The "solid" areas have bunched so it's not even flat any more.

You mentioned an article but maybe forgot to include it?

thanks again

TheKnittingMill's picture

Sure Bob! The hyperlinks

Sure Bob! The hyperlinks are hard to see...just click the word "Here" in the last sentence. And, again, congratulations on a beautiful shawl!

bobinthebul's picture

Ah, it is there! :) Thanks,

Ah, it is there! :) Thanks, and thanks again for the kind words.

bobinthebul's picture

Thanks for all the kind

Thanks for all the kind comments!

CLABBERS's picture

Bob...outstanding! Like you,

Like you, I think it's fun to see the pre-blocked "lump" of yarn masquerading as a shawl become transformed into the beautiful lace that it is. It must have been exciting to see it start coming into its own as you began blocking it. Well done, indeed!

Tom Hart's picture

Wow! Amazing and

Wow! Amazing and astounding. I've got to try that someday...

bobinthebul's picture

Do it! But try a lace scarf

Do it! But try a lace scarf or something first, and also practice the nupps separately; you don't want to learn to do them with 12 hours of knitting behind them! :) It's definitely concentration knitting -- I look at the repeats sort of like a mantra -- not something you can do on "auto-pilot" mode as you watch TV. But actually pretty straightforward. The pattern's also very well-written, which helps a LOT. I've been looking at the Haruni as well, but it seems to require a bit more deciphering...

ronhuber's picture

A lovely shawl. A true

A lovely shawl. A true masterpiece.

AKQGuy's picture

Kerry is right. Wool doesn't

Kerry is right. Wool doesn't require starch typically due to it's own oil content. Many plant fibers can benefit from some starching though, especially to help open up that beautiful stitchwork. Just like in home ironing though, think about what typically requires starch? Oilless cottons and manmade fibers.

Now with that all done, let me get to the point. Beautiful work. Truly. You did a fantastic job on that dreaded lace that snuck up on you. Any of said women will love it.

bobinthebul's picture

What would you do with a

What would you do with a wool-acrylic blend? This is part wool, part cashmere, part acrylic. And because I don't have the label with me now, I can't tell you the exact proportions. What I did notice is that it didn't hold its blocking as well as I'd hoped. It hasn't reverted to a lump of course, but especially the points on the edge are gone; it's now just a wavy edge. A light ironing under a damp towel? Or would that just kill it?

Bill's picture

You might iron the

You might iron the points...but if there's much acrylic, ironing will kill (flatten) the acrylic. Steam and/or cloth won't protect it.

AKQGuy's picture

Bill and Millard are

Bill and Millard are correct. You'll want to block to the toughest fiber here which is that acrylic. Acrylic doesn't like to block well and the ironing can even melt it. Iron steaming will be the most effective. I would also block it out hard with LOT's of tension as Millard suggests. Pin that bad boy out and really get those tips to be pronounced. The thread through them like you have in the pic will be the best to allow your pins to keep the tension as needed. Then steam it out with the iron held above the fabric by an inch or two, moving it a lot to not melt that acrylic. I had a friend that had one of those fabric heat steamers by connair she used to good results. Without the hot plate there was little worry of scorching or melting fibers.

Kerry's picture

Looks beautiful Bob. I've

Looks beautiful Bob. I've never heard of starching shawls, I certainly wouldn't with wool, perhaps people do with cotton.