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Finished Flower Basket

A Finished Flower Basket Shawl in My Garden

In spite of the atrociously hot weather here in Chicago this weekend I finished my Flower Basket Shawl. This project comes from the Fall 2004 issue of Interweave Knits -- yep, I'm a little behind the curve on this one. But sometimes it takes a while to find the perfect yarn.

As it turns out, I never did find the perfect yarn, I had to spin it myself. What I ended up using was a three-ply yarn that I spun from a madder and cochineal dyed Corriedale roving that I bought from Handspun by Stefania while at MS&W in May. I think that the fact that I have gone from purchase to shawl in about 2 and a half months is probably a land speed record I'll have a hard time matching in the future. In the end, it is one of the most satisfying projects that I have worked on. There's nothing quite like being involved in the creation process at multiple levels.

I chose to knit this pattern up on US size 8 needles (5.0 mm). When I knit, it just felt like a good density for the yarn and I didn't think the fuzzy sproingy quality of the yarn would lend itself as well to an airier knit. Probably, if I had thought from the start that I was going to use this fiber to create a yarn to knit lace with, I would have chosen to mak e a two-ply instead of a three-ply. The same 3-dimensionality that is good for textured stitching such as cables is not as good for lace.

Thus, my version of this shawl looks somewhat heavier than was originally intended by the author. It also turned out smaller than the pattern specs, even after I added an additional lace repeat. One nice thing about a shawl with a singular motif (Charlotte's Web was the same way) is that whether you start it at the top (as this one was) or the bottom, it's very easy to increase the size to be where you want it to be without having to worry about gauge too much. If I'd had more yarn, I'd have added another repeat or two. But the size that it reached will still work well for a nice neck and shoulder warmer in the winter, and the fact that it is a little less airy than the pattern calls for will make it just a little cozier.

I was somewhat concerned that the sproingy nature of the Corriedale would mean that after blocking it would try to return to it's original shape. My worry was misplaced. It drapes quite well and is holding it's shape quite well. I think I'll be adding another "C" to my set of favorite sheep breeds: Cormo, CVM and Corriedale.

Flower Basket at Full Wingspan

I believe that everyone and their dog has long since completed this shawl, but for anyone out there who still hasn't tried it or who wants to have an easy to cope with lace project as their first project, I would highly recommend this one. The lace pattern is easy to see and understand, and it knit up so quickly for me that I'm almost want to cast on another one. I've got some exceptionally yummy Brooks Farm mohair yarn in my stash which has been waiting for a purpose and a shawl like this would suit it well. I think that is another nice thing about this pattern. Whether you pick a yarn with no elasticity or a lot, you will probably end up with a nice result. The only downside of this project for me is that knitting it with a heavier yarn in the summer means that I won't really get to enjoy it until October at the earliest.

Now I'm going to have to spend some time thinking about what my next project should be. Except for socks, I've been feeling a bit uninspired lately. However, I'm getting increasingly curious about the construction of triangular shawls. Or it might be time to start getting to work on my Dad's vest again.

Handspun Flower Basket

Flower Basket Shawl in Handspun Corriedale

Lately I've been thinking that if I am going to spin, I'd better find a use for the yarn. Otherwise, all I am doing is building my stash -- which is something I'm trying not to do so much of right now (not that there is anything wrong with building up stash -- I'm just trying to keep mine in a manageable state for me). After finishing the cochineal/madder dyed Corriedale I decided that I just needed to do something with it that I would enjoy and want to wear.

I've always wanted to make the Flower Basket shawl that was published in IK a couple of years ago. But I never quite had the right yarn. I knew my handspun Corriedale yarn wouldn't have the same drape as the alpaca recommended but I thought it would create a comfy, cozy shawl that I could wear over a turtleneck -- my standard winter uniform.

In the picture you can see the beginnings of the shawl. Its taking me a long time to make much progress, because I seem to have difficulty getting the right number of yarn overs in the very first row of the repeat. So there has been much tinking. Even so, I like the results. I'm hoping that I'm going to have enough extra yarn to put in an extra repeat to give the shawl a little extra size, since I don't think it's going to block out quite as much as the laceweight the original pattern uses given the sproingyness of the Corriedale.

I'll tell you something else: it's an awful lot of fun to knit with my own handspun yarn. Enough so that I'm already trying to figure out what I'm going to do with that blue yarn I posted about yesterday.