Talk about going down to the wire... I finished my DIL's Maltese Shawl just hours before she and my son and Nick arrived last Monday night to spend the week and celebrate New Year's with me. I finished the actual knitting on Sunday afternoon, then hastily blocked the shawl by soaking it in tepid water with some Eucalan and then stretched it out with wires on old mattress pads down the hallway of my house. The lace blocking wires from KnitPicks ("down to the wire," get it?) made the task go so much easier than using pins! And it would have been impossible to work on it in the small space I had. The purple thingy at the bottom of the photo is a knee pad which also helped tremendously. It's for gardeners. I got it at my local nursery. All day Monday I straddled the shawl to get down the hallway which was a neat trick with bags of groceries to carry. At about 3:45 pm I suddenly remembered that I had a student coming, so I slipped out the wires and laid the shawl on my bed. Fortunately, it was dry. Then after the lesson, I gift wrapped it and waited for the birthday girl to arrive. Whew!
I can't believe I started this project on August 21, 2007. My first blog entry about it was here, then I mentioned it again one year later here. I'm a finisher, at least when it comes to knitting projects I have promised to someone else. To reiterate some of the facts on this shawl, the pattern is from Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today. The yarn is Rowans' Kidsilk Haze, color Meadow.
I found this to be the most difficult project I have done so far because of the size and because the lace pattern goes both ways, on the knit and on the purl rows. No simply purling back to catch your breath. There are 88 repeats of the middle panel pattern which includes the cross. It took me forever to memorize it and it's only six rows long! I am beginning to recognize the SSK, SSP, and SK2P stitches in other projects now and have found that it was the fineness of the yarn, and the tendency for it to cling to itself, that made them so difficult here. BTW, Sowerby gives very good explanations of lace techniques in the back of the book.
After the middle panel is done, the border is knitted and attached to the panel at the end of every WS row. The corners were difficult in that they required double and triple joins and the fuzziness of the yarn obscured the stitches. I used two cables when doing the border. One was acting as a stitch holder at the ends of the panel, and the other had the needles I was working with on it. I didn't use DPNs as the instructions called for as the yarn was too slippery. The needles kept slipping out.
You'd think I'd had enough of KSH by now, but yesterday while browsing Amazon, I found this book of Estonian lace patterns and thought, Oooh how pretty! I'd like to try that. Won't somebody stop me?!?
Here's my happy DIL.