Friday, April 28, 2017

Queen of Tides

Today I'd like to share one of my recent makes, which is, quite frankly, a personal knitting triumph.  Like many others, I was captivated by the Find Your Fade shawls as soon as yarn combinations and WIP photos began popping up on Instagram. It took me a little while to cast on my own as I was quite a bit intimidated by the sheer size of the shawl and the fact that it was knit with fingering weight yarn; over 1000 yards of it! I needn't have worried though, as this has been one of the most satisfying knits I've ever done.

The pattern is by Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits and is beautifully written.  There's no getting around the fact that this is a big project but Andrea keeps it interesting and fun by breaking the pattern up into manageable pieces.  Even knitting just a few rows feels and looks like progress.  The garter stitch sections are squishy and bouncy and the mesh lace is simple enough that I knit much of this watching Netflix in bed!

Half the fun is deciding on which yarns to use for your project.  It makes a good stash buster for those of us with large fingering weight stashes - mine is still modest and consists of mostly self-striping sock yarn.  I did; however, use a blend of high end and budget yarns in my shawl.  I had a couple of false starts before deciding on my colour scheme. 

Being relatively new to the sock yarn / fingering weigh yarn world, I wanted to try something nice to knit with but not too expensive, just in case I didn't like the experience.  I chose a beautiful Knit Picks yarn called Hawthorne Speckle Hand Paint in Aquatic Speckle.  The soft mint colour reminded me of sea glass (a favourite of mine) and it was the starting point for the whole shawl.

For Christmas, I was so lucky to receive a large bag of yarny goodies from my lovely friend, Theresa.  She filled it with such love and thoughtfulness that I was moved to tears and I wanted to be sure to choose projects that did justice to both the beautiful yarn and her kindness.  This shawl was ideal. In the end, I used a blend of Knit Picks Hawthorne yarns and Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock.  The high twist and lush colours of the Hawthorne yarns (I used yarn from the Hand Paint, Kettle Dye, and Multi lines) really played well with the Sweet Georgia.  Believe me, their reputation for excellence is well-deserved!

It took me approximately 7 weeks to knit the entire shawl and then blocking it was an adventure in itself.  It was so big that I had to block it in my bathtub - a first for me - and it was larger than my entire worktable, which is over 5 feet wide  I'm a loosey-goosey blocker but I think I did end up with the suggested wingspan of 100 inches from tip to tip.

I love wearing this shawl.  The fact that it is essentially a socially acceptable blanket is a definite point in its favour.  The merino wool is butter soft and it is breezy light to wear but still warm and cozy.  Every time it gets an outing, I receive compliments.  Even my family doctor loved it and after all the years she has cared for us, I finally found out that she is a knitter, too!  Who knew?

This is by far the largest and most ambitious project I have ever completed.  I worked on it at a nice steady pace and enjoyed every minute.  I liked this project so much that I have cast on a second Fade shawl and I'm approximately half way though. I tend to post WIP photos on my Instagram, in case you're interested.

If you've been curious about knitting shawls or are looking for an interesting pattern, I highly recommend Find Your Fade.  It's knit asymmetrically so you're not left with 4 million stitches on the needles; something that feels like a slog to me.  Don't be put off by the light weight of the yarn, either.  I am normally a worsted weight knitter but I felt comfortable with the 3 mm circular needle and yarn quite quickly.  It felt natural and satisfying as I was working with it.

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What's on your needles?  Do you have a pattern to recommend?  I'm still working away on my socks (10 pairs since January 2017) and I think I may try cables or lace soon.  I do find knitting with self-striping yarn to be enormously satisfying!

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