Knitting Blog: The Stained Glass Shawl, Finished

I use to keep track of my knitting projects. Each project has a series of pages, with information about the yarn used, the needle size, photos, rating of difficulty, and comments. You also can record the date you start and the date you finish a project. That is how I know that I started this shawl on July 2, 2009 and finished it on March 18, 2010.

That’s 37 weeks, exactly - I started and ended on a Thursday. That’s a long time for me to have one project on the needles.

I already knew that knitting means math. Awareness of math can certainly help you look ahead in a project, and know what is coming. The end of this project drove that point home. I started with 6 stitches. Due to the inexorable growth that results from adding 6 stitches every other row in the body of the shawl and 178 stitches every other row in the ruffled edge, I ended up with 2,497 stitches, give or take a few.

This is what it looks like to work on a project that has a couple of thousand stitches or so.

I confess, I was happy to come to the last stitch.

It took a long time to do the final cast-off, longer than it should have. I didn’t do the math. The math of a cast off is that one wrap of yarn around the needle equals approximately the yarn needed for one cast-off stitch. If you are running low on yarn, it is wise to wrap the yarn you have left to see if you have enough; you wrap a goodly sized sample, say 25 stitches or so, measure the amount of yarn used, and calculate if there is enough yarn left. If you are doing a picot cast off, which adds little points to the bottom edge, each picot needs the equivalent of about 4 stitches worth of yarn. If you are doing a picot every four stitches, you double the yarn requirement needed to cast-off.

I didn’t do the math, and TWICE I found myself realizing after I had bound off part of the bottom edge that I did not have enough yarn. Each time I unknit one row. It was a hard moment when I realized that second time that I STILL did hot have enough yarn. If I had done the math, I would have unknit two rows in the first place, and saved myself a *few* hours of my life.

The shape of the shawl is a half-hex fichu, which consists of three triangles side by side. It’s a Victorian style, and very flexible. It can be worn draped over the shoulders and open in front or can be wrapped around the shoulders. The wrapped style is great worn on the outside of a jacket.

This shawl is worth every minute of time I devoted to it. The fabric is heavenly. The yarn is 70% alpaca 30% silk, and is dreamily soft. The shawl is almost weightless, and surprisingly warm. And the ruffled edge is to die for. I may never make another one on a fine gauge shawl. but I am very glad I stuck to the pattern and made this one.

Here it is, blocked on wires. It’s rather uncanny that the colors of my blocking mats happen to be the same colors in the shawl’s colorway.

And here it is on me - front, back, and draped across the front.

I wore it to Montreal last weekend when we went to the Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. So appropriate - the name of the colorway is “Stained Glass”. I felt like a work of art worthy to be in the same room as Tiffany’s exquisite objects.

The pattern was designed by Jane Sowerby, an expert on Victorian lace knitting. It is published in the Summer 2008 issue of Knitter's Magazine as the "Curacao Blue Shawl". There are two more half-hex fichus designed by her in that issue, and I want to make both of them.


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