Kake's Birch Shawl
A present for my nan. Completed 6 August 2004.
'Birch' shawl from Rowan magazine 34, done in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, shade 'Dewberry' (a light purple). It takes 3 balls of yarn (ie 75g).
The shape is a right-angled triangle, with the cast-on edge being the hypotenuse and hence the longest row. You start with 299 stitches and decrease to a point.
The pattern is a fairly simple lace: an 8-row repeat, with even-numbered rows being essentially plain knit or purl (your choice - I'm doing purl, for a stockinette effect). Within the rows, the pattern repeats over only 10 stitches.
I first swatched using the recommended 5mm needles, over 29 stitches. To the right are the unblocked results (thumbnails link through to full size photos), photographed first lying flat, and then held up (sideways - the only way I could hold it properly with one hand) for backlighting.
I decided to try a base row or two of stockinette before I begin the patterning. Particularly in the full-sized backlit photo you can see that the cast-on edge (to the right, in that photo) looks a bit flimsy and uneven.
I also wanted to try going down a needle size or two to make it look a bit neater. I knit very loosely anyway, and I found myself knitting more loosely than usual while doing this swatch.
Finally, I thought I probably need to pull my yarnovers a bit tighter. The holes at the base of the motif that's in a row by itself look huge.
So I did two more swatches - one on 4.5mm needles with a single row of purl before beginning the pattern, and one on 4mm needles with a row of knit and a row of purl before beginning the pattern.
I liked the last swatch best.
So I used 4mm needles to cast on my 299 starting stitches.
The black things you can see in the picture are loops of 100% viscose thread tied around the needle as stitch markers. They're working great. I made my first swatch without them and my next two with, and it made such a difference. Much more fun and relaxing to knit with the markers. (They don't really like staying tied, so I have long tails on them and I make sure to pull the knots snug every so often.)
Then I did two rows of stockinette, then I started the pattern. I am taking breaks in the middle of the rows because otherwise I will go mad. I am breaking after the K2tog each time.
I'm consciously trying to pull my yarnovers tight. I think it's a general problem I've had in the past with lace patterns, so now's a good time to train myself out of it.