I win.

The view from our bedroom window. Thanks, Mindie — the knitting karma landed!

Started September 2006, finished May 2007 (stockinette is boring).
Yarn: Lisa Souza laceweight merino in ‘Wild Things’
Pattern: Mim’s Seraphim Shawl
Modifications: first and most obvious, I converted the triangle into a square. What was I thinking?
The pattern called for 800–900yds fingering weight yarn and 3.75mm needles; I used c. 1500yds of laceweight on 2.5mm needles after knitting more stockinette rows to add an extra pattern repeat as compensation for the smaller stitch size. I must have been mad… The pattern gives a blocked size of 72″ point-to-point; mine is 150cm on the diagonal, which is just about fingertip-to-fingertip on me. I could have made it bigger – I’ve got at least 800yds of yarn left – but I wanted something roughly my size.

Joanne, you might want to look away now… 99,940 stitches. This is an accurate estimate, lacking precision only because I know I made some mistakes. We habitually discuss strange stuff during long car journeys. How electricity works, from the electron up. Why that idiot is weaving to and fro across the road. The relative merits of Rhubarb and Gooseberry Fool. On Saturday it occurred to me that, given I know the number of stitches I started with, the number of stitches bound off, and the increase per two rows, it should be possible to calculate the actual number of stitches in the shawl. We forced our memories back into the grade school archives to look for factorials, something I can very dimly remember thinking would never, ever be useful. The number we wanted is (2(8×111!))-16 [because the first row is knitted only once]. The teacher whose name is lost in the mists of time would be proud of me, but the Excel Wizard did the calculation.

Comments: the pattern is a straightforward easy knit, bar the boredom inherent in a lot of stockinette. I am particularly taken with the way Mim’s used different decreases to move from solid stockinette to stockinette ‘islands’ with clearly defined edges to stockinette islands with diffuse edges. Very feathery, very, very clever: you’ll have to buy the pattern to find out precisely what I mean!

I bought the yarn in the first flush of enthusiasm for hand-dyed yarns, not thinking (not even aware) of how colour changes can obscure lace patterning. Thanks to myriad knitblogs, I rapidly became very wary of variable colouring in lace. I considered plain garter stitch (too boring), or some of the simple shawls in Folk Shawls, (classic designs that seemed to me to deserve a plain yarn to show the pattern of the stitches). Then I spotted Seraphim. I squared it because I had the yarn (2500yds), and because it’s to be my comfort blanket. I’ve spent two transatlantic flights huddled under a scratchy grey blanket trying to pretend I’m not crammed into a cigar tube with several hundred other far-from-perfect people. And their children. Now I have a lavender-scented cloud to remind me of the Asian lad on the train to Edinburgh whose first-ever stitches are part of the shawl. And his Scots girlfriend. And Arthur’s Seat, and all the other places I’ve worked on it. And I’ve lessons to remember, too. Memo to self: Pay attention to the stitches during the straight ‘knit’ rounds; they’re your chance to correct errors in the preceding pattern rounds. More importantly, I think my tension has improved aka loosened.

I’ve just taken it off the pins. It’s gorgeous.

I’ll add the classic ‘on’ shot when I’ve got one. After spending my morning knitting and my lunch hour sitting outside reading Pratchett, eating chocolate chip cookies, and gloating… I’d better get to work.

I like knitting lace. I shall knit a ‘proper’ garment next, but will be thinking about lace.
In the bag, Habu Kusa (silk mohair, apparently similar to KSH but far, far nicer) in three colourways, 400-600m of each, plus hand-dyed cashmere. I don’t know what any of this will be, perhaps I love it more because of the sheer weight of potential in that bag. On the grass… Sundara’s silk laceweight in a non-repeatable colour. Probably an Icarus. I’m looking forward to seeing the play of light and colour across those bands of stockinette.
From left to right, Jaggerspun Zephyr in ‘Sage’ probably to be Anne’s Wing o’ the Moth; centre is Handmaiden Ivory Sea Silk for the Kimono Shawl in Folk Shawls; right is Handmaiden’s new Mini Maiden, 50/50 silk/wool heavy laceweight singles in ‘Periwinkle’, destined to be a gift. Possibly another Kiri (scroll down) – it’s such a fast knit. Decisions, decisions.
Are you jealous?

I’m sorry.

No, I must be honest. I’m only a little bit sorry. Mostly I’m still gloating.

My feet are not nearly as elegant as Cara’s.


13 thoughts on “I win.

  1. Joanne

    You were exactly right. AHHH! Never tell me the number of stitches. I’m sure I’ve knitted way more than that, but the numbers! It overwhelms me! I’m sure now would not be the time to tell you that my airplane wrap (It’s a Boucle Wrap) is looking worn and weary from its journeys. Treat that incredible lace carefully and always carry it in your pack! I understand!


  2. La Cabeza Grande

    I am chartreuse with envy, Sarah!Seraphim is delicate and gorgeous. And I know what you mean by the “weight of potential” when it comes to yarn. Per Martha, “It’s a good thing.”


  3. Mrs J

    You are allowed to gloat! Its fabulous! (I stopped reading the post halfway down to order folk shawls from ‘The Book Depositry’!) before continuing. Its a piece of work to be VERY proud of -don’t leave it anywhere (my house would be OK).How do you follow that?


  4. HPNY Knits

    wow Sarah, it is stunning, and the color is lovely. it might have been mad to knit it so thin, but the result is cloud like! as we Americans will say- awesome!


  5. Mindie

    Yes I am – jealous, very jealous, it’s beautiful. Some things are so worth all the effort. I will totaly understand if it is placed surreptitiously in the backgound of at least the next 10 pictures!Glad to see the knitting karma worked o.k.


  6. Kath

    Simply stunning and worth every one of those stitches! I love the colours in the yarn and the new yarns and the possibilities of them all. I must say I enjoyed reading your ‘7 things’ and learning more about you – so interesing! I never knew you were from Canada! I’m just disappointed not to find a sound clip of the loons call I haven’t heard that in years! Thanks for all the informative posts – I always feel as if I’ve learnt something afterwards!


  7. Kate

    Wow. Just Wow. The variegation works beautifully. The ante has been upped. I’m going to have to try and knit something lacey that really can claim to be lace! How long did it take you to work up the courage/energy to pin it out? Love the outdoor blocking solution but it also reminds me of that Larson cartoon entitled “How birds see the world” and various objects (washing on a clothesline; a newly washed car) have targets painted on them.


  8. Debby

    Wow — that is beautiful! Now we need to see the video of your dancing around in the garden with joy, after having bound off the last stitches!!I struggle too with hand-dyed variegated yarns and lace. I love all of the colors but I know that depending on the lace pattern, the colors may overwhelm it. I’m working on the pie wedge shawl and haven’t decided yet if I like the color variation or not. I’ll be posting a photo soon so you can see it.


  9. Anne

    Oh yes! – I’m so glad Megan sent you by… maths… knitting… electrons… that shawl is amazing. And it’s given me just a little more impetus to continue with my one for D – not nearly as intricate but sharing the same characteristics of having been adapted for yarn and needles much finer than originally intended…



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