Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Princess Shawl by Sharon Miller

I bought this pattern shortly after I discovered the Heirloom Knitting website a few years ago, confident in my own knitting ability, but never having attempting anything like it before.
When the pattern and yarn arrived, I was anxious to begin and my fingers would itch to hold needles every time I thought about it, but for whatever reason, I didn’t begin right away. When I had devoured the booklet, covers included, I was still anxious but now I was wondering whether I would have enough self-discipline to finish it (I’m sadly lacking!). After all, it took the designer 9 months to knit. It seemed complicated enough to keep me interested though so I sat down, eager and enthusiastic to begin with my miniature needles and beautiful burgundy cashsilk. I managed two rows of the border before I admitted defeat and then promptly hid the yarn and pattern with my stash (under the bed) and I told myself I would tackle it again when I had gained more staying power, intellect and experience!

So I trawled Heirloom Knitting again, bought the books, wool, and needles and began in earnest to knit shawls and haps galore. It was a few weeks ago that I was going through my stash to figure out what to make people for Christmas presents (recession, recession!) that I came across the guilty package of pattern and yarn. I tried not to look at it and continued to make my sister a scarf (finished, affectionately known as the hickey scarf!) and hand warmers (Work In Progress, have to buy beads) and my mother a triangular shawl from Evelyn A Clark’s book on same (WIP also). I also made some baby presents for some friends who are due at the end of the year. I had a crepe shawl made with some Jamieson & Smith 1 ply cobweb and I made some baby booties from the leftovers for the same lucky little baba! The pattern I used was the bootie pattern in Heirloom Knitting that has a bead and faggot pattern on the top. I had attempted these before but the pattern always evaded me. My stitches turned into one lump of sticky wool and I could never get past the second row. I had already made the rosebud shawl so I knew the basics and I could never understand why every row lace always left me red faced and tangled.

So I reread the book from cover to cover and finally realised my problem. I was doing my yarnovers wrong! I was taking my yarn from behind and bringing it over towards me instead of bringing the yarn as if to purl the next stitch and the bringing it over the needle away from me. Such a difference! I’m flying now, I completed the little booties in no time at all and have also started Sharon’s Lerwick Shawl and I have the Melanie shawl waiting in the wings to be tackled. But I have left the point somewhat!

I joined Ravelry a few weeks ago to display my efforts, I came across other Princess Shawls, and after reading the notes of others, I decided to take the plunge and start my own again. So three days ago I took out my needles, yarn, pattern and talcum powder and began with the waste wool cast on. Amazingly, I managed to get past the second row and in one day, I managed to do three points of the border. Such a huge surge of confidence and relief to see it there, growing in my hands. The cashsilk is so unbelievably soft and the colour is a rich warm wine. It’s light as a feather in my hands and I can’t believe that I have started it. I’m using a 2.00mm 40cm circular needle but I find that the arms are too short to work with comfortably and I found that after just three points of the edging, I was straining my neck and I had a cramp in my hands. I will change the needles before I continue any further. I am working this shawl as suggested alongside other projects and I think I will further limit it to daylight hours to save my eyesight. I have no time limit to complete it to either. From reading other knitters “Princess Diaries”, they all seem to agree that the edging is the tedious bit, the border a breeze, the laurel leaf insert a little irritating but worth it and the centre seems to take forever. I think I’m well armed to make a go of this, and make it a success.

Another tip I picked up was to use a contrasting piece of thread as a lifeline every five to ten repeats (by threading it through all the stitches on the needle). So that if the edging does have mistakes and needs to be ripped back then you only have to rip back to the last lifeline rather than the whole way back. I have made two mistakes already though they are hardly noticeable so this may save me a lot of bad temper and frazzled nerves. The stitches are too tiny and the pattern every row so the option of ripping back a few rows really isn’t available.

And so my journey begins, I’ll post photo’s as I progress and I’m hoping for steady and slow as I want to savour this project. I’ll keep you posted on my other projects too.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck! It's a fantastic project well worth all the hours. Though, the centre does not take that long if you do it right. The pattern should have had an indication of how many pattern repeats to knit, but there isn't any info available. So, measure your gauge and adjust centre pick-ups (some maths, but it takes minutes compared to knitting too many rows for months...), then it'll turn out perfect.