Thursday, March 29, 2007


I completed the Large Rectange with Leaf & Trellis Pattern on page 54.

The project entailed a number of firsts for me: knitted-on border, grafting, and serious blocking. I know several of you are also new to these techniques, so here are a few observations/reassurances.

• Although I did a gauge swatch, I was ¾ through the center panel when I realized I would run out of yarn. Fortunately, I found more. The finished shawl is 3’ X 7.5’, much larger than the pattern indicates. Clearly, I need to polish my swatching skills.

• The directions for knitted-on borders may sound tricky, especially the corners, but once you get into it everything makes sense. I enjoyed the border. It went fast, the pattern was easy to memorize, and I didn’t need stitch markers.

• When I started on the border, I used a 16” circular. It was a good safety net at first, but the cable became cumbersome as I gained speed and confidence, so I went back to DPNs. Yes, I cried the first time a needle slipped out, but I was able to pick up all the stitches. Whew!

• The Handmaiden Sea Silk I used is non-fuzzy, making it easy to see where to place the needle when you join the border to the center panel. Even so, I miscalculated and had to fudge the double/triple joins at the first two corners. Once the shawl was blocked, I couldn’t spot the mistakes. Hand-painted yarn has its virtues.

• Grafting the border edges together was a nail-biter, beginning with my fumbling attempt to unzip the crochet chain cast-on. Note to self: use single-ply waste yarn next time. I ended up with a stitch too few on one needle, so I just picked up an extra yarnover.

• Blocking with two curious cats around is a challenge. I usually spread a few thick towels across the dining room table, and I’ve never actually pinned anything; I just stretch and pat the damp fabric into place. I wanted to do it right this time, so I borrowed an idea from Stephanie McPhee’s blog: interlocking foam floor tiles! I bought 2 packages of 4 tiles to make a 4’ x 8’ surface. (Is there anything you can't find on Amazon these days?)

They worked great, and are much easier to stash in a Manhattan apartment than a big blocking board. Oh, and I only had to shoo the cats off the table once.

• I didn’t think to look closely at the border’s points before washing the shawl. Once wet the points were hard to spot, and I had to look at the pattern again to figure out where to put the pins.

Despite all my clueless bumbling, the shawl is gorgeous, and I am very proud of it. Please don’t be nervous about tackling a knitted-on border!

Next up: The Alpine scarf in Helen's Lace, a birthday gift for my sister.


pamela wynne said...

oh, this is really lovely! and thanks for all the useful info.

Martha said...

Your shawl looks like liquid lace. It's amazing. You will be stunning in it, and your sister is a lucky girl to be getting the alpine lace shawl!

Sherri said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Cathy - and the link for the foam floor tiles. Your comments really help! And the shawl? Oooooh! Gorgeous!

judy said...

That is just beautiful!

~Kristie said...

Absolutely STUNNING! That sea silk was obviously the perfect choice!

I'll be looking forward to seeing your next project.

Cathy said...

Thanks for the kind words, ladies!

This is my first KAL, and it's enhanced the pleasure of knitting from VLT.

Lori said...

That is beautiful. Thanks for all the tips, I will be needing them soon.

Cynder said...

Thats beautiful!

Brenda said...

Very beautiful! I have been scared of the borders, but your post has been very reassuring. Thank you! What color is the sea silk you used; it is lovely.

Cathy said...

Thanks, all!

Brenda, that's the 'mineral' colorway. The pictures don't do it justice: it's several shades of brown, from espresso to Irish setter, and soft grays. Handmaiden's web site shows it better: