Gwaihir Shawl

A pattern that I test-knitted has just been published: Gwaihir by Lindsay Scarey.  My Ravelry project is here.

I wanted to test-knit this shawl because I love bulky lace.  Also, the shawl is designed to look like the eagle from Lord of the Rings, and I am a big fan of those movies.  This shawl kept us company while we were watching the Olympics last winter.  It is the perfect thing to wrap up in when I'm at home relaxing.
I made two changes to my version of the shawl.  I added a slip-stitch edge (because I love slip-stitch edges).  I also made the shawl smaller by finishing early (skipping chart C).  I did the two repeats of chart B, but on the second repeat I made the triangles of purl stitches look like those at the end of chart C so my smaller shawl would have the same finished look as the larger version.  I then proceeded with the garter border and bind-off as written in the pattern.

One thing to note: the designer wrote this intending for the charts to be read from right to left on both right and wrong sides.  If you will be reading the charts from left to right on the wrong sides, then all you need to do is go to the key and switch the P2TogTbl and the P2Tog.  That will ensure your finished result matches the chart.
If you are new to garter tabs, then my pictures should help.

 I thoroughly enjoyed the process, and this is something I would definitely make again.  Lindsay was great to work with, and I really enjoyed thinking through her pattern and giving input.  This experience has inspired me to become a tech editor.  I will be posting more about that soon.

The Danish Sontag Shawl

When I received my copy of Holiday 2017 Vogue Knitting Magazine, I was immediately drawn to Meg Swansen's "Danish Sontag Shawl."  There were a few changes I wanted to make, but I was confident that I would love it.  The only thing holding me back was the cast-on.

I like to read directions over and be able to picture them in my head before I knit, but with this cast-on, I could not picture what it would look like.  I couldn't find anyone talking about it online, so I had to figure it out on my own.  I hope this will be helpful to someone else who might be hesitant about getting started.

One thing that was tripping me up was that I couldn't figure out which end the shawl started at.  I didn't have much experience with triangular shawls back then, but I know much more now.  After I knitted for a few rows, I realized that the cast-on edge runs along the entire bottom of this shawl.  It is a perfect match for the shaping that is done along the sides as you knit.  The CDD (centered double decrease) is what creates the point of the triangle.  This shawl includes ties to keep it on, which is pretty clever.  The ties are one long piece with the cast-on.  First you make the tie for one side, then you continue with the cast-on, and then you make the tie for the other side.  When this step is finished, you have one really long skinny piece.  Once I jumped in and got started, I quickly saw how it was going to be accomplished.  I used clip-on stitch markers to help count my stitches.
This lace cast-on is pretty genius.  It uses purl stitches instead of knits because YOs done in purl stitch are a little larger than YOs done in knit stitch.  If you would much rather be knitting, just persevere with the purling.  I promise it will be worth it.
After this is finished, the next step is to pick up stitches in the YOs, but only from the center section, not the ties.  Ignore the ties while you knit the body of the shawl.
Meg Swansen gives a recommended range of length for the ties.  At the time, I wished she would have given more guidance on deciding which length to choose.  After my shawl was finished, I ended up shortening the ties, which wasn't difficult to do.  They ended up being the shortest length in the range she gives.  (I am a small adult.)
I also made some changes to the main body of the shawl.  I did the CDD (centered double decrease) in garter stitch instead of stockinette stitch.  I didn't like how the CDD in the pattern picture stood out so much down the back, and I wanted to make it more subtle.  This also made the triangle slightly less pointy.
The other change I made was to add a few more eyelet sections.  I loved the way the eyelet section looked, and I felt like the rest of the shawl would be too plain-looking for me.  I did four eyelet sections total.  Each of my eyelet sections contains three YO stripes; there are two garter ridges between stripes; and there are six plain ridges between eyelet sections.
Another thing about the pattern that I felt was too vague was at the end.  When the shawl finishes at the upper back, there are only a few stitches left.  The pattern simply says to weave them together, but it doesn't give any guidance on how to do that.  I looked up how to weave in garter stitch (basically, the garter version of Kitchener stitch).  That finishing made it look really polished.
I hadn't gotten very far on the shawl when I got a concussion.  I couldn't read or look at computer screens for two months because they made me dizzy, so I spent my time working on this shawl while listening to classical music.  It was the perfect relaxing project for a time when I was low on brain power.  I now think of it fondly as my concussion shawl.

I still need to take pictures of my shawl off the blocking boards.  Those are coming soon.

The Bleach Test

I recently acquired some partially-used yarn with no label.  There are two different ways to find out what the fiber content of mystery yarn is: the bleach test and the burn test.  While the bleach test can only tell you if your yarn is natural or synthetic, I have read that the burn test can actually narrow down the specific type of fiber, based on how the yarn smells and smokes when you burn it.  Unfortunately, I don't have a backyard in which to do the burn test, and I don't want my kids to see me making fire inside.  They might get ideas...

The bleach test is very simple.  If the yarn dissolves in the bleach, then you know it is a natural fiber.  If it doesn't dissolve at all, then you know it is a synthetic.  If only part of your yarn dissolves, then it is probably some sort of blend.

Get a glass bowl (because you don't want bleach in the pores of your plasticware), and pour an inch or two of bleach into the bowl.  Cut short lengths (two inches) of the yarn you want to test.  To make sure your results are accurate, also cut a piece of a yarn that you know for sure is wool.  If the wool doesn't dissolve, then you will know that something is wrong with your test.  Use a tweezers to set the yarn in the bleach.  (If you use your fingers, just wash your hands right away.)

I had three mystery yarns to test, plus one yarn that I knew was wool.  After 15-20 minutes, the wool began to dissolve.  After an hour, there was hardly anything left of the wool.  In the pictures below, the wool is the green in the center (dissolved into a few pieces).   Since the other three yarns were unharmed, that told me that they are some kind of synthetic.
At some point in the future (when I acquire a backyard), I would like to try the burn test to determine exactly what kind of synthetic they are.