70) The peacock shawl and the joys of handspun

I mentioned that I'd finally got started on the Peacock Feathers shawl, right?  I snapped this quick picture before I travelled off to North Yorkshire, knowing that it was the end of the first section, and that the work would grow pretty quickly from here on:


Excuse the horrible overexposure: this is one of the first shots taken with my new camera (thank you, eBay), and the flash options are different to my old one.

Anyway, I was right: the shawl grew quickly-quickly and I'm now nearly through the second section, which uses a motif which more closely resembles feathers, and which uses a double yarnover:

This is definitely a pattern which will benefit from a good blocking.  Two stitches are worked into the top of the double-YO, and they slip and slide and close up the hole a bit.  Experimentation proves that they will sort themselves out nicely, though, especially in this slippery silk.

Speaking of silk, I'm really enjoying knitting with my own handspun yarn (as always).  It's not as slippery as some commercial silk yarns I've used, but it is soft and drapey and luscious.  It's not perfectly even (not at all!), but somehow the fabric takes in all the yarn's imperfections and evens them out – or at least, transforms them into interesting 'features'.

I have to decide, soon, whether II've got enough yarn to try for the whole pattern, as written, or whether I'm going to drop one (or two?) of these middle-size motifs.  I have less yarn than the pattern calls for, but I'm working on smaller needles.  The quarter-point weigh in (after knitting half the rows – the magic of surface area vs. linear dimension) suggested I'd have enough yarn to work 249 rows, out of 250-plus-crochet-cast-off.  The middle section is probably the best place to omit a repeat, because it's a simpler pattern at that point, which makes me think maybe I'll drop one row of feathers from here – 8 rows.  However, that will mean the last motif lines up differently with the rest of the shawl, and with the centre-back point in particular, because the rows of mid-size feathers are staggered.  Even dropping two repeats wouldn't necessarily work, because the spacing of the feathers relative to the 'spine' of the shawl changes, repeat by repeat.

So.  The shawl finishes with about six rows of fagotting, and the aforementioned crochet bind-off.  Maybe I can drop a fagotting row?  Or the two plain rows that come between it and the bind-off?  I'm not 100% comitted to the crochet bind-off, either; it's pretty, but I'll bet its a bugger to block, and liable to catch on things, too.

So.  I think the long and short of it is that I'll weigh everything again when the crunch point is reached, and see how the numbers stand.  Because this *is* handspun, the grist isn't totally consistent throughout, which makes things somewhat unpredictable, but…  We'll just have to see!


  • Crochet cast off is actually really easy to block if you have blocking wires. Put the wires through each crochet chain loop, then use a few pins to hold the wires out as far from the center as necessary to open up the pattern. If you don’t have wires, a pin in every loop does the trick. More tedious, but not too bad.

    5th October 2010
  • I think I’d cross my fingers, hold my breath, and just go for it. But, then again, I’m a little crazy…

    9th October 2010
  • You know, if it didnt represent around three weeks of knitting time, I might. But… I cant. I just cant. (see again: planner!)

    12th October 2010

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