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This RingSurf Site is owned by The Patchwork Butterfly

I wasn't born with wings, so I'm trying to make my own
Tuesday, October 31, 2006  

Ok, I've been procrastinating on re-blogging because I've been contemplating a lot since Rhinebeck. About being an artist, about the little bubble I've been living in lately, etc. And then I started a new job this week and put all that on a shelf to continue living in my little bubble :-D I'm a dork sometimes. And thankfully MamaCate shook me out of my little bubble so that I would post about my shawl. Thank you so much Cate (sincere, not sarcastic!) So I'll post all my rambling thoughts about being an artist but having to live a real life, too, some other time. Now I'll post about the shawl.

So, this whole kerfuffle started way back in January of 2005. I was just finished with a spinning project and wanted to play around with some new fibers I had gotten. I decided to sample some Chasing Rainbows fiber (colorway Grand Canyon) just for fun... and was instantly hooked into another big project. I'm sure you understand how this goes (if you're an addict :-) So, I had me some singles.

That is my Ashford Joy double treadle with Woolee Winder, for those interested in details. I tried two ply and Navajo three ply to see what kind of color interaction I wanted and settled on the two ply. I really liked the subtlety with these particular colors, and loved all the different combinations that resulted. The three ply came out much bolder than I was looking for in this project. So, I started knitting swatches to get an idea of gauge before I got into the real spinning. I wanted to make sure I was really happy with the weight of the two ply (I wasn't, the original sample was too thick for my taste). Randomly, one of the patterns I chose to swatch with was Elfin Lace from Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. While I was knitting it, I noticed what neat little lines were formed by the decreases and thought that the lace would fit perfectly into the V between the yo-k1-yo increases of a square shawl knit from the center out. *Cue ominous music* And so my evil plan was hatched.

And so I spun... and spun... and Oh My Freaking God I spun. Out of the original two ounces of fiber, about five grams went to samples and waste and out of the remaining fifty one grams I got approximately 2150 yards of two ply yarn. That's almost 19,000 yards per pound if you need a conversion. I'm pretty proud of this yarn if you can't tell. So, after the spinning I needed a break from the yarn. Toward the end there, it was like mortal combat. Plying was traumatic. I had spun and spun and spun singles, and when I finished the singles I was all "Oh, gee, now all I have to do is ply. I ought to be able to do that in a weekend." But oh, I was foolish. The plying went on... and on. There was gnashing of teeth. There were cameras set up to catch the evil gnomes unplying while I slept. There were tears. During the plying process, my boyfriend tripped and fell and broke his fall on... my Woolee Winder. So then there was wibbly wobbly plying. And in the end, I had one skein of yarn. This was a true joy and accomplishment for me. I had held off and spun all the singles onto two bobbins, no stopping and plying because I NEEDED some finished yarn to get me through the long haul. I stayed strong. And as a reward, I had one ginormous skein of yarn. No sewing in ends on the finished shawl (except for the cast on tail and bind off tail, of course.) So I washed my yarn. And then I tried to skein my yarn. And it broke four times. All that hard work for one skein, and I had five. This was why the yarn got a "time out." There were days when I wondered if I could ever love the yarn again.

But, I then hatched the crazy plan that I would go to Rhinebeck. And I thought of THE YARN OF DOOM. It was a beautiful color for a fall wool fest. So, I dug it out of it's time out corner and started swatching. I had never done a circular start to a shawl before. Boy was THAT fun. The yarn almost went on time out again. Talk about a psychotic break inducing game of pick up sticks. But in the end I prevailed (while my boyfriend hid in a corner crying and hugging himself... he was scared by the screaming in tongues).

The center of the shawl was all Elfin Lace.

When I reached a size I thought reasonable (and when I looked at the calendar and realized that I'd better get my tail in gear if I wanted to wear this thing at Rhinebeck) I started designing my inner border pattern.

And then the REAL insanity started (stop it, don't you know it's rude to laugh at a crazy person). I realized I might not make my deadline. I made a spread sheet and set up a number of stitches I had to knit per day. And every time I didn't make my mark, the number for all the days remaining got bigger. And bigger. And then it was two days before Rhinebeck, and I was nowhere near being able to finish in time. What's a girl to do? Cast off and block it into points so it looks finished! And that's just what I did.

At it's current size, I've used about 1300 yards of yarn and it weighs in at about 1.2 ounces. And I wore it to Rhinebeck and got to meet all kinds of amazing people because of it (like Cate). Because of the wonderful weekend thanks to the shawl, I've contemplated leaving it as is and calling it a day. Maybe it was a happy accident that it didn't get "finished." Maybe it is finished. But in the end I've decided that I really want to finish the shawl to be as I intended it. It's staying the way it is until the 18th so that some artist friends who are coming to visit me can see it, but then it's going back on the needles. Once it's back on the needles, it's going on another time out. I have holiday knitting to do :-D

Happy Halloween and thanks again for MamaCate for getting my butt in gear.

Something like this needs to be seen. Thanks for telling us the story, and I can't *believe* it's going back on the needles!
It's truly gorgeous and so very reassuring to this relatively new spinner that the process was not all sunshine and light (even though the outcome truly is)! MamaCate is good for motivation. *smile*
Jenni, that is a stunning achievement. That much froghair, whew. All of us are bowing in obeisance.
Wow. Just--wow. Your spinning is an inspiration!
So, so incredible. I can't wait to see it "finished"!
What an incredible feat - even if it isn't done. I think you deserve a timeout from it. The spinning boggles my mind.
I saw it, I touched it, I even took its picture...but I still have trouble believing it.

And I think if the skein only broke 4 times you were probably ahead of the probability curve.
I was one of the admirers who fondled the shawl while you were waiting in the fleece barn line. It's easily the most impressive thing I saw all weekend. Wow.
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