Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ups and Downs

First the good news.

Some more birthday yarn arrived yesterday.

Dream in Color Smooshy in “Pansy Go Lightly” and Paca Peds in “Fireside”, neither of which I’ve tried before. They’ve been hanging out on my coffee table, where I could admire them while knitting the Aeolian Shawl.

Oh, yeah, the Aeolian Shawl. That brings me to the bad news.

Knitting the Aeolian Shawl has brought me much happiness over the past few days. The pattern is interesting but not difficult and since it incorporates several different stitch patterns you are motivated to finish one section so you can get to the next. I’m even enjoying the nupps, now that I know to knit them at a very loose gauge. So what’s the problem, you ask?

Right from the beginning I’ve been struggling with the issue of yarn requirements. The (very talented) designer, Elizabeth Freeman knit the pattern using three different laceweight yarns, resulting in three different sized shawls. The two smaller she called “shoulderettes” and even though she knit the same number of pattern repeats for each, one came out considerably larger than the other because of variances in the yarn and needle size used. She explained that the size of the finished shawl could also be altered by changing the number of pattern repeats but warned that the edging section required a considerable amount of yarn, with the smaller shoulderette using a full 65% of the total yardage.

I was aiming for a shawl a little larger than the finished dimensions of the larger shoulderette. The Mersea I was using is fingering weight and I was planning to knit it on a 4 mm needle. The two 115 g skeins have a total yardage of about 760 yds. After reading the various comments on the Ravelry forums and doing a multitude of mathematical equations I concluded that I should have enough yarn to knit two extra repeats of the first stitch pattern (yucca) and then follow the remaining instructions for the shoulderette as written. However, after knitting the six repeats of the yucca pattern I used up considerably more yarn than I had estimated and became fearful that I would not have enough when it came to the edging. After more calculations I decided I was right to be concerned so I ripped back to the fourth repeat and continued on my merry way. By the time I came to the edging section I had about 75% of the yarn remaining so I proceeded, confident that I would have enough, with a bit to spare.

Now I know what you’re thinking but you’re wrong. I did not run out of yarn. Instead, I have exactly the opposite problem.

I only have six more rows plus the bind off to do and I have a full 95 g of yarn left. The last two rows, one of which included 24 yarn-eating nupps, used only 6 g of yarn, which means that even if the remainder uses up a generous estimated 45 g I will still have 50 g of yarn remaining. I wouldn’t mind so much if I was happy with the size of the finished product but after comparing it to my newly-finished Gail shawl I can tell that it is going to be too small for my liking.

There’s no way around it. If I want to the shawl to be larger I am going to have to rip back rows and rows and rows of knitting and beadwork, add a pattern repeat, and then reknit the frogged sections. And as crazy as it sounds, I still run the risk of running out of yarn. Keeping in mind that new stitches are increased every other row and that the new section will add 48 stitches to the total number, the reknit sections are going to require more yarn than they did the first time through. My head hurts just thinking about nearing the end for the second time, only to run short.

Still, I think it’s the only way to go. I think I’ll wait until after dinner when I’ve had some sustenance and maybe a glass or two of wine for courage.

Hmm, my love affair with shawl knitting seems to be in jeopardy—now where did I put those socks?

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