Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FO: Geysir Stretch Shawl by Stephen West

Here is my first Choreo KAL project, the Geysir Stretch Shawl.

It was an absorbing piece of knitting and is an interesting object of knitted architecture... but I am not sure that I love it as a garment.

It is happiest at rest as a spiralling swirling twirling pattern of stripes and snail-shell patterning.

But when I pick it up and try to arrange it around myself?  I don't know what to do!  Half of it plays nicely and drapes across my shoulders in the normal way, but then I come to swing the remaining length round my neck and I feel suffocated by ruffling frills.  It's very... Pierrot style?

And where has the pink gone?  That amazing Radioactive Raspberry Jam colour is muddied by the fluff from the teal stripes and the whole thing becomes rather dark and murky.

Reviewing today's photos, I can see it looks OK over my coat.  And worn that way, the fluffy Longwool doesn't irritate my bare neck.  So I will definitely wear it, just not indoors.

But I am feeling a tiny bit deflated.  All that work for a great big fluffy (itchy) asymmetric ruffle?

And this is the problem with knitting:  because you are creating a textile, so much depends upon your gauge, your needle size, your choice of yarn.  Unless you use the same yarn and gauge as the designer, you are taking a risk that your finished object will turn out looking entirely different from the original.  It will drape differently, it may have different proportions.  And unless you are familiar with the properties of your chosen yarn, it all feels a bit arbitrary.  Which is exciting... when it works!  Less so when it doesn't.

Pattern: Geysir Stretch Shawl by Stephen West
Yarn:  DK Wensleydale Longwool:  100g in Radioactive Raspberry Jam colour from Countess Ablaze and 100g each of teal and aubergine from the Sheep Shop, purchased online from Baa Ram Ewe

Process:  My yarn felt thinner than a normal DK so I changed my needle size down to 4mm from the recommended 5.5mm.  So I had to work two extra repeats of Section 2 to reach  similar dimensions to the original. 
But this meant I had an enormous number of stitches on my needles by the time I reached Section 3.  I had to add two extension cables to my Denise circular needles to accommodate the extra stitches, and inevitably an over-energetic stitch-shuffling movement resulted in a disconnection and approximately 200 stitches left hanging in mid-air while I mounted a rescue mission with a spare lace needle.  Aargh!
I decided I had had enough after only ten rows of Section 3, which should have been 24 rows long.

I think I should have used bigger needles to give better drape and a more open "weave".
I might block it, to see if I can stretch it into submission. 
I hadn't expected to do this to a stockingette shawl.  I usually only block lace.  But maybe it is necessary to sort out the ruffles.

I don't see Stephen West wearing a tutu round his neck, so neither will I!


MrsAlex said...

Interesting - I feel the same about my recently-finished Stripe Study shawl. Fascinating construction, knitted with beautiful alpaca, itchy as anything and won't sit on my shoulders. It's on time out while I rev myself up to block it into submission.

Gail said...

Aww. I'm so sorry you aren't 100% happy with it. I do agree it's a little "ruffly" for you - not your usual style. But I still think it looks great!

greenmtngirl said...

I do think blocking might make a huge difference to the drape as well as the shape. I knitted a Stephen West design for my sister recently, and though the yarn was quite drapey, the piece didn't really come together the way I wanted til after blocking. It's something about all those odd angles, corners, and curves, I think--they need some encouragement to behave themselves.

The colors are lovely though. I really like the shots of pink that flash out from the ribs.

serendipturas said...

I had a very similar experience with a Stephen West design (Spectra?) I blogged, describing it as frilly, and thankfully someone offered to take it off my hands and rehome it.

LinB said...

Well, at least you had the joy of the making. And it kept you occupied enough that you didn't feel the need to go out with hooligans in the street. I like the finished article, and I like it on your coat. I also agree that you don't seem like a ruffles-and-ribbons sort of woman to me. I would not be able to accustom myself to the frilliness, either. The bright colors, though, suit you beautifully.

rosyragpatch said...

The scarf looks good with your coat and it's a beautiful object in its own right.
I used to knit a lot but I never really got the hang of tension: I don't think a single thing actually stayed the same size after washing. I admire and envy knitters - wish I could do it.

Franca said...

I see what you mean! I love it in the outdoor pictures though! Hopefully blocking it will help!

fabric epiphanies said...

Your scarf looks fantastic with the coat. It may not be your usual style but sometimes it is good to step out of your comfort zone. You never know, it may grow on pun intended!

Lynne said...

I think it looks great with your coat, but agree that it is a bit ruffly. I second blocking it - good luck!!

Scruffybadger said...

It is a wonderful knitted piece of creativity, and I do agree that it looks fabulous with your coat. What a feat of yarn manipulation and the colours are beautiful.

Sabs said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha... Hooligans in the street, brilliant!

Valerie said...

I think it is utterly wonderful!

shivani said...

I think it looks great! It is a bit of a departure from your usual style, and yes, without the coat is a bit frilly, but I think it looks lovely with the coat.

sulkycat said...

How about altering the way it is worn - I find crescent shaped shawls work really well pinned at the shoulder. The colours look good against your coat.Failing that, I think you SHOULD go out and riot with hooligans, just for the hell of it.Threaten them with a ruffly shawl!

LinB said...

"Remember that you should never make a threat you are not prepared to carry out." Good advice, both for parents and for those who must deal with hooligans on a regular basis. (May, at times, be interchangeable roles.)

Linda C said...

My sympathies on the shawl - the color is beautiful, and it does look wonderful on you with your coat ---but as a wear-alone piece, there must be another way to wrap it, besides a ruff. I am "stuck' with a similar scarf-shawl I bought recently at an auction of a sot of soroity I belong to (all proceeds go for scholarships for women). The colors were beautiful and looked like me- so I bought it. The maker came over and arranged around my neck, and it swooped and tucked so neatly and looked wonderful. I should have written down each twist and turn - because, when I try to wear it, I end up up with a big fluffy Elizabethan ruff around my neck. My neck is too short for that, I am too short for that, I am wondering who I outbid . Maybe I can go to the maker (I think I know her friend) and see what to do. If I do, I'll let you know the trick.


jessica said...

Roo - when this popped up in my blog reader, I was instantly struck with the way the pink pops up through the teal and how it looks over your coat. I know how it feels to knit forever on something and not feel satisfied with the result though, but I happen to like this one on you :-). I don't suppose you coudl just flip the ruffly end over your shoulder, to the back, so that you don't personally see it (while the rest of the world can admire your panache and good style?)

And second/third/fourth/fifth the calls to try out blocking. It could make a world of difference.