Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Lily of the Valley Stole

Hey, is that a Lily of the Valley stole or are you just happy to see me?
Lily's been done and blocked for a while now, but I just haven't got around to doing her photo shoot and posting pictures.

Pattern: Lily of the Valley Stole from Fiddlesticks Knitting

Yarn: Jaggerspun Zephyr Wool-Silk in Vanilla. I knit from a cone so I don't know the total amount of yarn used.

Time: started mid-June 2006, finished September 2006. This was meant to be a wedding shawl but I decided a) it was going to be too warm, b) the color wasn't quite right, and c) it was very much not worth killing myself just to have this done in time for the wedding. On average, one repeat of the pattern (14 rows) took me about 1.5 hours.

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo circulars, 3.5 mm/US 4. I dislike the Crystal Palace cables but I like the pointy points for lace. This yarn (and the nupps) were too slippery for me to use metal needles. Be sure to have pointy needles for this design. You will need them for the nupps.

Modifications: I did work the edging with a double strand of yarn, as suggested, but I cast off using the knit 2 together castoff instead of the suggested: castoff. My castoff: K2tog, slip the stitch back onto the left needle, repeat - doing this very loosely. I started off with the suggested cast-off, but because of the way I knit, this method was causing the plies of yarn to separate and look untidy. K2tog castoff fixed this problem.

I did not block out the lengthwise sides in a wavy pattern (I didn't even remember that from the pattern until i just looked at the website again just now).

Comparing my blocking to the website pictures, I also see that I made the YO rows, separating the middle from the top and bottom borders, straight and not undulating. I'm anal like that.

I worked 4 extra repeats to make the stole longer.

Comments: Yes, the nupps are a pain in the ass.

Actually, they really aren't so bad. I though I had consigned myself to Nupp Hell when I did the swatch and the first edging, but it became routine after a pattern repeat or so. My key to the nupps was to loop the yarn loosely but not TOO loosely around the needle on the row before. You needed to be able to put the needle through all 7 stitches and purl them all together. At the same time, if it's too loose, the nupp looks awkward and messy.

It's a pain at first but becomes routine after your fingers figure out just the right amount of extra yarn to do in the loops. I developed a little method where I'd hold the yarn-overs made onto the right needle with my right index finger, to make sure they were loose enough. Yes, they slow you down. This was a long knit (I averaged about 1.5 hours per 14-row repeat.) There are 25 repeats written, although I did 29.

The #1 thing I'd suggest for success with this pattern is when purling the 7 loops into nupps, count the strands you are purling. For Every. Single. Nupp. All my mistakes were in missing loops or knitting an extra stitch into the nupp. It's really easy to do when they're followed by yarn overs and preceded by plain knit stitches. If you miss a nupp loop and it gets loose, you are screwed and you'll have to sew it together. If you knit in an extra stitch, the whole pattern will look wonky.

Fortunately the pattern is VERY repetitive and it's easy to tell if you've wonked up a nupp on the previous row by purling in an extra stitch by accident. This pattern is repetitve enough I didn't to look at the chart by the end of the 2nd repeat. The nupps are entirely the most complex part of the pattern.

The charts are very well written and accompanied with enough text so I could work out anything that was confusing me. Make the swatch, you'll really want to practice those nupps a bit. But don't give up too quickly on them - they do get faster. It's a great pattern.

Note that the pattern does NOT reverse in the middle (such as in Eunny Jang's Print o' the Wave stole) so if you have a problem with the lily sprays looking upside-down on one side, maybe this pattern is not for you.

I am unhappy about how the decreases (K2tog and SKP) kind of gap after blocking. I prefer the clean line of the middle spine. I tried keeping my tension quite tight after each decrease, but you can still see the gapping. I don't know how to solve this one.

The blocking on this stole was a bitch. I fed a crochet thread up the left edge, up the right edge, and through the YO rows at the bottom and top. It took hours to get it threaded and all straight. I had to be sure that the side didn't bunch up in any one place and that the center spine lay straight. Pinning was simple, but getting the sides straight was the hardest part.

I found that the pattern expanded quite a bit with wet blocking (immersed in water). I'm still happy with it but I'm almost regretting those extra 4 repeats. Almost.

All in all, a fun knit (although long) and a great pattern. The nupps were slow and awkward at first but I got over it. Easy enough for me to knit while traveling but not when talking. Your mileage may vary, of course. It's a gorgeous stole (although I am now solidifying my belief that I look hella dorky in lace shawls. Ah well.)


Carole said...

It's wonderful. Congratulations on finishing - you should be proud of the accomplishment and all those nupps.

Krista M said...

You are my HERO! I just finished Swallowtail Shawl which has two repeats of Lily of the Valley, and it damn near killed me. I hated those nupps every single time I did one. If you check my blog, I actually have a whole entry dedicated to those asses. You did a beautiful job. I love using that yarn for my lace. It is so comfortable in my hands and doesn't get sticky, like some of the furrier lace-weight.

BigAlice said...

Hey, thank you for the lovely compliments. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.

zoe said...

oh my g-d alice, this is stunningly beautiful!!!