Earlier this summer I noticed an intriguing knitalong on Ravelry. Fiddle Knits has been designing a series of two color, textured shawls using birthstone colours to signify important relationships to the knitter and/or recipient. In our family, birthdays fall overwhelmingly in only a few months, so it was easy for me to pick two birthstones which represent seven people we love.
Garnet = January = my mom, my daughter, and both my grandsons
Topaz = November = my husband, my son-in-law, and my grandaughter
I hope the resulting shawl will become an heirloom which will be passed down for generations, even if it is not always considered in style to be worn.
So I signed up for the KAL and ordered the designer's yarn, which is high quality and gorgeous! It was a week late making it through customs and this far north, but I knit like a demon and caught up with clues 1 and 2 in one week.
Clue 1 introduced me to a 2 color longtail cast on which eliminates the need to guess the length of yarn to begin. I like the contrast edge and will use this technique again. After a few rows of garter stitch, I had to do a Latvian braid, not a task for the impatient with all that twisting. I'd only done one on a mitten cuff before - 40 stitches is a lot different than about 370! I stopped halfway on the first braid row and untwisted and then knit the rest by swapping yarn position after every other stitch. It took a few hours but resulted in a beautiful trim for the shawl.
Clue 2 was done in short rows at the centre of the shawl, resulting in a medallion with cabled trees so this will literally be a Family Tree shawl. Cables are not my favorite technique to accomplish but I do like them once completed. I am loving this design. Kudos, Erica!
I put the chart into the Knit Companion app on my iPad, which lets me enlarge the design to really see the cable icons then go back to the overall view of the line. It highlights the current row for me with just one touch, yellow for knit rows and purple for purl, which really helped me stay on track. I used the crochet hook method to insert the beads. All went well with this section, although it was not mindless tv knitting.
Yesterday, I received clue 3. I am not a good "Mystery" participant, so I waited to look at some spoiler photos in the group thread before I began knitting. Clue 3 fills in the right side of the shawl, using a stitch called "string of pearls" in the contrast color, which should be my burgundy. But I wanted golden beads on a burgundy background, so I decided to take a chance and switch color designations for this section. I'm liking how it looks so far.
(If you want to see some beautiful examples of clue 3 knitted as written by the designer, check out the Ravelry spoiler thread for the group.)
The string of pearls stitch is new to me, and I like it. It involves slipping stitches and making mini nupp-like bumps. You have to pay attention, but you can get a rhythm going, and it's really not hard. Then there are four plain rows to relax. I should have no problem finishing this section this week. This may be the first KAL I ever complete on time!
It was the two colour concept which drew me to this shawl. I have to admit I might not have chosen to purchase the design if I had seen it first: the Latvian Braid and the cabling might have deterred me. But once I made the commitment to the KAL, it was do-able, and I do love the design. I think the occasional mystery is good for you. You never know what you might learn.