Saturday, August 21, 2010

FO: The Shawl of Percy-Verance

It is a week since the Wedding of The Year, and I have finally finished the shawl I was going to wear that day. On reflection, the intensity of the colour would have fought with my dress, so it was the right decision to wear my Shetland Lace Triangle on the day. Hooray!

This was my holiday knitting project and I knew from the start that it was going to be a challenge to both my patience and my knitting skills. I am not a “natural” lace knitter. I am much more at home with socks.

Percy shawl. A free pattern by Sanne Kalkman, available via Ravelry
3 balls of Drops Alpaca from The Wool Shed
3.5mm Addi circular needles
I knitted it as per the instructions. I wanted a big shawl, but could not face a further repeat of Chart B. It blocked out to fit my exercise mat, so all is well – any bigger would have been a problem!
Where is my hawk?
So... what was so difficult?
The pattern is written for experienced shawl-knitters, so it took me a few attempts to get started. There is a provisional cast-on and then a right-angled turn. OK. But you need to know to place stitch markers either side of your central stitch and always work a yarn-over next to these on the right-side rows. The yarn-over is charted but you might not realise there should be a central stitch. It is written into the pattern introduction, but not within the main body of the instructions / charts, so I missed this vital fact at first.
Chart A is a doddle. Relax and knit.
On Chart B, I placed stitch markers at each pattern repeat, as without them I could not tell what I was doing. Chart B has “business” on both sides – knit and purl rows - and I frequently had to pick back to the previous marker when my stitch count went awry. Some entire rows were picked back two, three times before I got them right. I could not memorise the pattern for an entire row to save my life.
Nancy Bush's nupps. Yes, really!

I thought my troubles were over when I finished Chart B, but I had not taken account of the nupps (to rhyme with loops) of Chart C! OMG. The nupps, the nupps! At Knit Camp, I took the opportunity to fondle Nancy Bush’s nupps (ooh err missus!) and I can see that my problem was all about tension.
I should have used a larger needle. I pulled my loops far too tight on the right side row, and ended up digging around with the needle, trying to “purl 7 together” for five, ten minutes per nupp – oh dear!
An example of my loopy nupps.
Some rows took me over an hour to negotiate. And when I blocked it, I discovered that I had dropped several loops in the process. The shame! I will have to sew them into position. Next time I knit nupps, I will do so VERY loosely and using a specialist lace-knitting needle with a fierce stiletto point.

I cannot deny that this is the most complicated lace I have ever attempted, and it is really rather beautiful (if you overlook the loopy nupps, which I will fix). I was crazy to think I could knit it in a week. The Drops Alpaca is amazing value and I love the colour, but I think my next shawl will be knit with something firmer. Nancy Bush recommends a 2 ply Shetland laceweight.

And Nancy knows, you know.


Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

It is gorgeous:)

didyoumakethat said...

I am in awe that you managed to complete this at all. I would definitely have given up very early on. It looks beautiful. (Love the hawk photo caption!)

Sandy said...

Well, what-ever... it is a lovely accomplishment; nupps, loops or not. I agree it would have been a bit over the top to wear with the Wedding Outfit, but it will serve you well on other occasions, I am sure.

Anonymous said...

Great looking shawl. Did you find the YouTube video of Nancy Bush demonstrating nupps? It's at

She makes it all look so easy.


RooKnits said...

Stunning - my nupp advice - try with a crochet hook -

Kate said...

It's gorgeous. :-D

tea and cake said...

wow, clever you again! One needne't ask if you'll do this one again, then?!

Fiona said...

Oh, it's so pretty! Even if it does look insanely complicated - I've been meaning to knit one for ages. Might be spurred into action by this... I am in awe.

feresaknit said...

Luverly - why is it that even though we are both experienced knitters, and yes I do it too, we look at something and think it can be done in an impossibly short time scale and do we learn from this? Of course, we learn that just maybe if all we had done was sit and knit we could have done it! And next time we will. ;D