Sunday, September 03, 2006


Started: April 2006
Finished: June 2006
Really finished (blocked and wove in ends): July 2006
Pattern: Kiri, from Polly Outhwaite at All Tangled Up
Yarn: Douceur et Soie by Knit One Crochet Too; color "Chambray".
Yarn source: Knit Purl sale bin
Yarn used: most of 5 balls. Pattern calls for 3 balls but I added 3 extra row repeats
Needles: 3.5 mm/US 4 Crystal Palace bamboo circulars and Inox circulars. This yarn is too slippery for me to use with polished metal needles.

Crystal Palace bamboo are more expensive but pointier than Clover bamboo. Inox are also gratifyingly pointy. However, I switched to bamboo for some hassle-free airplane knitting and never got around to changing back.


I worked this shawl with a different yarn and smaller needle size then recommended (3.5 mm/US 4 vs. 4. 5 mm/US 7). The yarn is more or less identical to the original recommendation: Douceur et Soie is also 70% mohair/30% silk and has almost the exact same yardage per 25 g ball as Kid Silk Haze does (225 yards vs 229 yards.)

My swatch with the 4.5 mm needles seemed extremely holey to me and I didn't like how loose the whole piece looked, so I went down 3 needle sizes (because I only had an Inox in 3.5 mm). I did a preliminary blocking after 10 repeat rows and found each "leaf" motif was about 1/2" smaller than the pattern gauge. To compensate, I worked 3 more repeats of the pattern, which took an additional 2 balls (heck, I had 5 balls, I might as well use them all up).


This was my very first large lace project and my first working with a laceweight yarn. Previously I'd done Knitty's Branching Out scarf in sport-weight Silky Wool.

The shawl ended up enormous, as you can see. The extra 3 repeats -- not necessary. I attribute this to my gauge loosening up as I knit this over several months. I also blocked it fairly severely. For information's sake: I'm 5' 8. The length is over 6 feet -- more like 7 feet.

Thanks to Polly for the fabulous pattern! I didn't have any troubles following it and I appreciated the warning on how much yarn the edging sucks up - almost the entire last ball in my case. The beginning was a little confusing, as I didn't know what was going to happen, but I followed the instructions and the outcome became apparent quickly. I think I added 2 extra garter stitch rows at the very beginning because I couldn't quite figure out which row end bumps to pick up and thought I was one short. The top neck looks fine, so I'm not bothered.

The pattern is very repetitive, so once I'd gone a few repeat rows I'd memorized the pattern and didn't need the chart. It's easy to see if you've made a mistake on a previous row if you're paying attention and not just blindly counting.

As others have said, mohair/silk yarn is not all that fun to tink. I didn't really find it as horrible as reported, though. On the plus side, if you drop a stitch, it doesn't travel far. On the minus side, tinking must be done slowly and over a table. Also on the minus side: it's hard to fix any problem on previous rows without just ripping back to the problem row, because the mohair obscured the stitches and made them hard to pull out. This project was very good practice at learning to drop down just a few stitches to fix a mistake, since once you get deep down into the project and an entire row takes 10 minutes to knit, I REALLY didn't care to rip it back to the row.

I found that the best way to catch errors before they became too painful was to PAY ATTENTION to the current row of knitting, as well as counting. The pattern was quite apparent and if there was something missing or askew, it was usually clear. Not mind-searing attentiveness, just a "there should have been a hole on the row beneath this, shouldn't there?" attention instead of blithely knitting along.

Dumb errors: several times, when I'd stopped in the middle of a row, the next time I picked it up, I knitted the rest of a row when I should have been purling, or vise versa. Essentially I did a short row. I didn't figure this out until I got back to the middle again and thought, "something's gone wrong." How could I do that? Let alone several times? It's taught me to always make sure the yarn is coming from the RIGHT needle before starting up again in the middle of the row. Yes, this is a really dumb mistake.

The blue: what was I thinking? Although I'm pleased with the result, this shawl doesn't really suit me. Maybe it's because I'm not exactly a lace-wearing kind of person. And the blue isn't a flattering color on me. I picked up the yarn in the 40% sale bin from a local yarn store, Knit Purl because I was lusting after it *: it was so soft and feminine and I loved the color in the box (* not really thinking straight when I am in a yarn passion). I actually bought it before I thought about knitting the Kiri shawl. Yes, I'm a terrible stasher.

I got a bee in my bonnet to knit Kiri round about March, and dug out the 5 balls. At that point all I wanted to do was knit Kiri so I didn't look for anything else. And really, would any other color have made it more suitable for me? Hmm.

I find I do not mind at all starting with a few stitches and growing to several hundred. I think this is because when I start a project, I wish to see Immediate Progress or I start getting disheartened or lose interest. Kiri just flew by at the beginning and made me feel like a Lace Superstar. By that time I'd memorized the pattern and it was habit to just pick up the project and knit a few rows every day. I even got so I could do it on the train after thinking I'd never be able to knit lace in those conditions. I think mostly I'm not so motivated by seeing the end of a project nearing. I also very much appreciate the practice of the first few pattern rows so I could learn and memorize the pattern and make my mistakes while there was only a few tens of stitches on the needles and not hundreds.

The shawl's definitely got that ethereal kind of effect, although it's knitted a bit tighter than other Kiris or Birches, so I think that it probably doesn't flow and flutter as much. Very feminine (though very hairy). I'd recommend it as a good beginner's knit (though in something thicker and less annoying than mohair/silk laceweight.)


alltangledup said...

it looks beautiful. You know, I tend to knit on the tigher side, so I think 4.5mm was right for me. I also specifically did not put tension on the pattern because I wanted people to substitute and to trust their instinct, just because I like the fabric at a given tension, doesn't mean that anyone else would.

P.S. if you don't like the colour, there's always the possibility of a dye bath...

thanks for you kind email and for the wonderful write-up

Mary said...

Ooh, it's really pretty. I'm getting ready to make this in the same yarn, but cranberry color. Thanks for all of the detailed info, it's very helpful.