Sunday, June 11, 2006

Completed - Birthday Shawls

I have been working in secret on two birthday presents recently. I fell in love with the Stefanie Japel pattern City Shawl, and decided to try it out in two very different yarns for two friends who have birthdays in June.

For Jessica, I chose Giotto by Colinette (see below), which is a ribbonny yarn. I chose the colour 'Sunrise' (121), which is pale pinks, lilacs and blues. With the slight sheen in the ribbon, it looks decidedly girlie and a touch shabby chic.

For Rachel I chose Soft Lux by Rowan, in the colour 'Basalt'(see below), which is dusty pale blue with tiny metallic silver thread through it. The effect of this more like a traditional shawl with a modern twist, so I think it had a bit of a retro edge to it - especially if worn with some choice vintage clothing.

I also bought lovely stick fasteners from Get Knitted (one in pink and one in blue) so that the shawls can be worn differently, and made labels for each shawl complete with washing instructions.

The yarns were of course very different to knit with. The Giotto slightly more slippery and slow to work on circular needles (but not in the round as per the pattern); while the Rowan was an easier knit. Both projects were time consuming because the pattern doesn't tell you how many stitches you should have on the needle at each stage, and as this was my first project with 'yarn overs' and I made a few mistakes, I had to keep ripping the wool back to the last stage at which I was sure I had the right number of stitches (usually the first row of YOs in a section). (I know I could have worked the number of stitches out, but my maths isn't great and I didn't want to rely on my own calculations!)

I blocked both shawls, despite the pattern saying it wasn't necessary, because even though they looked fine when finished, somehow they were both slightly off-centre. Blocking seemed to fix this up fine and it was also good to see how both yarns responded to blocking. The Giotto in fact changed quite a lot - for the better - because it became a lot flatter, lost a bit of its spring which is more appropriate for a shawl and became very drapey.

Knitting the same pattern in different yarns one after the other was a really good project to help me get to understand how differently yarns can be worked. As a result I've decided to keep a yarn journal where I'm going to make notes on how yarns were to knit with, alongside little samples of the yarns (in the form of tassels or knitted squares) to remind myself.

The final thing I want to say about this project was how much fun it was to make gifts for my friends. I knew from knitting my boyfriend's jumper that it is extremely rewarding (especially when its appreciated), but Jess and Rachel mean the world to me as mates and I felt so much closer to both of them (because I don't get to see as much as I'd like) by putting my heart and soul into their gifts.


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