Challenges – 10/3/2019

But these are the fun kind of challenges. Maybe still a bit stressful when you realize that if you fail, there is a lot of unknitting (tinking) to be done. I’m not a good enough knitter to bravely pull the needle out and unravel and then just pick up the live stitches again where you should have quit or not made the mistake, unless it is plain stockinette stitch. I never have gotten good at using lifelines to hold a row of stitches before a lace pattern.

My main current knit is Free Your Fade, a long basically triangular shawl by Andrea Mowry. The pattern comes in two yarn sizes, DK and Fingering. As I mentioned before, I purchased a lovely 788 yard skein of 97% Alpaca, 3% Blue Faced Leicester from Only the Finest fingering weight yarn at the Knotty Ladies Retreat in Black Mountain in August. The skein was actually 4 two ounce coordinating skeins and I had a pattern in mind which would have required more yarn, so I purchased a 4 ounce skein of a 5th coordinating color. The planned pattern called for worsted weight and made a wide generous trapezoid basically of triangles joined. I thought if I did it in fingering, I could create the same effect in a scarf. I started it, and didn’t like it. First challenge. I was probably only 70% through the first color, so off the needles and simple rewind the yarn. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the nearly $100 worth of soft loveliness then. A few days later, whilst I was reading a friend’s knitting blog, I noticed the photo in her header and it was gorgeous, but everything she knits is gorgeous. A few message exchanges and I purchased the pattern from the designer, it looked like the perfect solution for the lovely yarn.

Challenge 2: The pattern uses a 200 yard skein and two 400 yard skeins, I had plenty of yarn, but because mine was in four almost 200 yard skeins plus one almost 400 yard skein, it meant that the fade patterns from one color to the next would have to happen more frequently and not in the same place in the pattern after the first one. OK, that isn’t a big deal, she says in the intro that you can fade on any of the 20 row garter sections. The pattern forms the triangle by increasing 1 stitch every other row, so 10 stitches over 20 rows, followed by a 2 row eyelet lace with 1 more stitch increase. But each increase row started with a decrease and ends with a stitch that makes 2 new stitches, thus the 1 stitch increase and the triangle gets wider and wider. There was more than enough of the first color to follow the pattern and do the written fade into the second color.

Challenge 3: The second color in the pattern is a 400 yards skein which meant that I was going to have to use 2 of the 2 ounce skeins to achieve that part of the pattern and an extra fade. Remember, the fades have to be done on a 20 row garter section and I didn’t want to waste any of this precious yarn so I played chicken and continued knitting, hoping to have enough to finish the second fade, three garter stitch sections and another fade with the eyelet rows included. Well I finished with about 80 inches (200 cm) of that color as I started on the next color.

And then on to the variegated skein. Now the triangle is getting wider and there will certainly not be enough to do three garter stitch sections with two fades and eyelets so I shot for only two garter stitch sections with two fades and eyelets.

As you can see from the middle remnant, I played chicken again, though not quite as close, I had about 120 inches (300 cm) left and on to the last 2 ounce color. I guess there will only be enough for a fade, 1 garter stitch section, and a fade with leftovers, but I still have the last 4 ounce (almost 400 yard) darker Merlot color left to finish without worrying about running out. This shawl is going to be very long.

I have 181 stitches on the needles now and the pattern ends with 215 stitches when you start the picot bind off. Her general instructions say to can make it bigger if you wish by adding more sections. I doubt that I will, I will probably use the left over Merlot, lavender, gray (there was a bit of it left), and the remnants to make a matching hat or mitts. I have some lovely Romeldale CVM fiber I am spinning that would coordinate nicely with this for a hat or mitts and I will have a new ensemble to keep me warm and cozy this winter, if it ever drops below 90 degrees here. But there is no climate change, the deniers say so.