I have been taking part in the first three months of the A Year Of Techniques project being run by ACKnitwear: a year of monthly projects which each focus on a new technique. Starting in March, the first month’s technique, helical stripes, offered up a project of fingerless mitts/armwarmers, worked quickly in single row, jogless stripes. April’s technique and project was a shawl worked in simple colourblock intarsia. I have worked intarsia before, in projects such as Kaffe Fassett’s Tumbling Blocks Cushion, but I haven’t re-visited the technique for some years now, so it was a good excuse to reacquaint myself, and a great opportunity to apply the technique to a piece that is both modern in design and very wearable as a light but warm scarf.
The first few days of knitting the Brambling Shawl whizzed by quite quickly, and I worked the knitting at a quick but unhurried pace, and soon found myself at the midpoint; the swelled belly of the shawl with the longest rows, well before half the month had passed, so was scheduled to finish about half way into the month. And then I mentioned to Russell, my husband (Mr Awesome, Mr Codd) that I had for some time wanted a new website, a nice, fresh platform to enjoy, and there and then we bought a new domain and set to work in the evenings, in that little bit of time between the toddler’s bedtime and the bit where we pass out from happy exhaustion.
And then… It was May!
I had to make a choice between whether to carry on knitting the Brambling shawl or to cast on for May’s pattern, with the lovely CoopKnit’s Socks Yeah! yarn for the third monthly pattern instalment. I ended up touting my bag of knitting to the coffee shop one day when Darwin fell asleep on the buggy ride to town, and knocked out a few quick rows of the simple intarsia design, with my trusty iPad by my side to keep track of my rows. When I sat down that evening I only had a 140 decreasing rows to knit, and polished the whole thing off whilst watching a couple of episodes of Westworld.
The mammoth size of the shawl/scarf in comparison to one of my usual project undertakings perhaps belies how much ‘work’ went into the knitting. Once into the rhythm of reading and noting the pattern in a way that I could quickly refer to the actions on each row (whether one or more colours shifted left or right, and whether the shawl needed an increase or decrease worked to widen or narrow it), the knitting was simple and pleasurable. The finished shawl is now blocking, but before it went into the soapy water it felt as light and wispy as air, but as warm as a cuddle due to the soft halo of the yarn.
I’ve taken to using an old favourite blocking method whilst the shawl dries, and have threaded embroidery thread under each outermost purl ridge of the garter stitch edges, along all three edges of the triangular shawl. I’ve hurt my back at some point over the past week, and the thought of pinning out an 8ft shawl into shape made me wince with the prospect. Instead, I sat in comfort on the sofa with a darning needle and length of embroidery floss until all three sides were threaded in preparation, and then secured the threads taught on my blocking surface using just three pins. The edges are kept poker straight and my back is thankful.
I’ll try and get a picture of the finished shawl once it is off the blocking mats, though goodness knows how, it’s so perfectly big and airy I might just have to lay it out on the lawn and hope that a passing aerial photography satellite passes overhead. It’s definitely a project that is easier to wear and love than it is to photograph.