January 31, 2011

Swallowtail... Finally!

Swallowtail Shawl, [ jenleigh ]'s version.
Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark
Project Specs:
Knitted in Cascade Eco-Wool, pumpkin spice.
Knit on size US 8 needles.
It was March of 2008 and I had four lovely skeins of Sundara Silky Merino in my possession... Pine over Gold.  Oiy... seriously yummy stuff.  Seriously good stuff.  Sometimes when you splurge and get the seriously yummy stuff (I know I'm on the verge of sounding like Izzy Stevens, "seriously...") you can become overwhelmed by all the options.  Some folks just dive headlong into a project, barely getting it wound before casting on... you enviable creatures!  I, however, am the other sort, who starts and frogs, frogs and starts my way into a worn skein that could only dream of being carded in a liquor store.  And so thus begins my tale of Sundara Silky Merino and Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Shawl.  Truth is, three years ago I had neither the patience for understanding nor the understanding of patience to knit Swallowtail.  Or any other shawl for that matter.  It's not that shawls are overly difficult, just that they take a basic understanding of construction, and I in 2008, could not be bothered.

After several failed attempts at Swallowtail with my seriously yummy Pine over Gold, I threw it in one of my many "to be continued" baskets and moved on to something else.  At the time I felt defeated.  But at the time it was the best project I never finished.

Fast forward two years to Christmas of 2010 and you would have found me knitting on the largest lace project of my life, Umaro by Jared Flood.  When the pattern came out in early December I must have been one of the first to buy it.  Normally I'm not tempted by blankets (Hemlock was another disaster of '08...) but I knew when I saw this super-soft and squishy lap blanket I had to cast on.  And this time I knew I had gotten it right.  Umaro would turn out to be the best project for me to begin my love for lace.  Thousands upon thousands of stitches and plenty of time to really wrap my mind around a lace chart. (More to come on that project...)

So after several weeks of single-minded knitting I completed my lap blanket and was chomping at the bit for a new project, a challenging project.  And I knew exactly which project it would be...

Ahhhh, Swallowtail... finally!  Finally finished!  And it took me only a mere six days from beginning to end.  Now you may be looking at this thinking, "Jen's colorblind, this is not Sundara Pine over Gold," and you would be right.  My tastes have changed a bit, and right now I love the idea of knitting lace weight shawls in more substantial Aran weight yarns.  As my friend Jennifer says, "a yarn that feels like it could keep a body warm."  So I opted to use Cascade Eco-Wool on US size 8s.

I decided on a skein of Pumpkin Spice I had in my stash and I'm so pleased with the result.  I think Eco-Wool is a surprisingly great choice for shawls.  It has fantastic stitch definition after blocking and drapes well.  It also yields a shawl large and sturdy enough for you to wrap up in on cold mornings without giving thought to pilling as you would a shawl in a more delicate yarn.

I used this great tutorial on nupps. 
One of the things I struggled with before when attempting Swallowtail were the nupps.  Done in the traditional method of yarning over several times and knitting together on the wrong side row had proven a nightmare for me.  With yarn overs on either side of the nupps I could not, with all the best intentions, keep my yarn overs straight!  I have since found a great tutorial here to help with working nupps on the right side of the fabric. This bit of information helped me blow through this portion of the shawl with considerable gusto!  


To work a more simpler nupp you need only:
  1. Knit into front, back, front, back of stitch.
  2. Return all four stitches back to the Left needle.
  3. K2tog twice.
  4. Lift first of these stitches over the second and off Right needle.

I can't tell the difference between methods, only that the updated nupp provides a more uniform compact version.

Overall I am so pleased with how this project turned out.  And plan to get lots of use out of my Swallowtail!  I've worn it around the house all morning and love how warm and it is!  Maybe this will be the year of tackling my "to be continued basket..."  I hope all is well with everyone, and all your projects!

Happy Knitting!

----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Jen in KS  DATE: 01/31/2011 02:24:57 PM Well now you've inspired me. I've got half a skein of Eco left from my Hemlock blanket. I think I might try it with the 198 Yds. of Heaven shawl.
----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Jennifer  DATE: 01/31/2011 02:30:49 PM I can't wait to see it...and hear your thoughts!
----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Gigi  DATE: 02/02/2011 09:38:37 AM This is beautiful, and I love the idea of making it with heavier yarn to give it more substance. Whenever I see a beautiful shawl or wrap pattern like this, I tend to pass it by as I don't think I'd ever wear it, but I think I would wear one like this. Mabye I'll get brave and give it a try ;).
----- COMMENT: AUTHOR: Leslie  DATE: 12/14/2011 11:45:12 PM Hey there! A wonderful shop in Medford, OR found your Cap'n Crunch pattern for me today. I have been learning on my own. Do you have a photo of the entire finished piece? I am making it to stay warm at work and pretty sure I am misunderstanding some of the instructions-beginners!

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