October 1, 2008

Proud as a Peacock

(It had to be said.) Yesterday Peacock Feathers got a tepid soak, and then the festival of pins started. The shawl fit, if I put the long top edge diagonally, onto our queen-sized bed. (I did start early in the day so as to not have a damp bed on the evening of my anniversary. I thought that just wouldn't say "I love you" quite the way I wanted to.)

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Big shawl. Blocking wires (I use and like Handworks Dressing Wires) went along the top to get a nice straight edge, and I had to use four of them to manage. I pinned out each scallop and crochet chain loop individually. I did try just putting more wires through the loops to avoid the pinning, but it didn't give me the beautiful deep scallops I was looking for, and besides, once you're in this deep with a project it just didn't seem right to skimp on the finishing. (That lesson, not to cop out at the end, is one that improved my knitting a lot once I learned it, which was embarrassingly late into my knitting career, but there you go.) I didn't block it severely, just as little as I could to show off the pattern.

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Pin-o-rama. Pinfest. Pinoptic. Passels of Pins. Profuse Piles of Pins. Pins-o-Plenty.
The shawl reposed there, pinned to our duvet until it was dry - or more properly that it lay there until we went upstairs at bedtime after drinking a bottle of anniversary champagne and I was all "Oh, hold on. Let me just entirely kill the mood by removing 200 pins from our marital bed. One moment." (To his credit, Joe laughed.)

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I loved knitting this shawl. To be sure, it's a big one, coming in at just about the size that the pattern predicted. (Good call on my part with the gentle blocking.)

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Pretty, pretty, pretty.

On the Fiddlesticks website, Dorothy says that this shawl is recommended for "experienced intermediate knitters" and I'd agree with her. The Fiddlesticks charts remain the best in the business, and her instructions are very clear and concise, and if you're looking to move up to a big piece of lace after working some simple things, this would be a good place to start. Challenging, but good.

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That said, if you're just starting with lace, unless your the sort who doesn't mind a challenge and learns quickly, you're probably going to find a couple of things difficult. Firstly, there's a lot of charts. They're good charts, and easy to read, but you're going to need to read them. This pattern doesn't have an easily memorized pattern (mostly because you're knitting a picture), and even if you do get the hang, once you do, you're off to a new chart.

A secondary challenge is presented by the charts themselves. Only the chart to the centre point is given. When you reach the centre, after reading the chart row right to left, you then work the charts reading left to right, reversing the decreases. I don't find this difficult at all, not even a little, but everybody has a different sort of brain. (I think you could get around that really easily by scanning and reversing the charts, and taping the two sides together, if you had a brain that resisted the effort.)

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Besides that, the only challenge is that this is a big and fiddly project, which only makes me adore it more, since it only gives you a better lace high when you're done.

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Absolutely worth every single moment. (Even the cast off - since, wow. It's perfect.)

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Pattern: The Peacock Feathers Shawl, from Fiddlesticks Knitting. Yarn: 50/50 wool/silk from Perchance to knit, in the Midnight Rainbow/Harlot's Peacock colourway. It took 108g of yarn - or just less than 4oz. Knit on a 3.5mm needle, showed off in my Mother-in-law's beautiful back garden.

Posted by Stephanie at October 1, 2008 5:09 PM