Monday, February 27, 2012

Shallows: Tips and Tricks

I spent a little time at WEBS the other day, shopping for yarn for a Shallows scarf. There were so many contenders, so many lovely fingering weights to choose from! But in the end I decided to go with the same yarn I used for my Shallows cowl—Swans Island Organic Merino.

That might seem unadventurous—but if you love a yarn, why not go back to it? And then there was the matter of color—I found myself circling back again and again to the lone skein of the beautiful raspberry colorway.

Raspberry Shallows Scarf Start
Pattern: Shallows by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Swans Island Certified Organic Merino Fingering, Raspberry
Needle: US4/3.5mm

I'm modifying the pattern to make it a bit wider. The cowl sample was 7 inches wide; this scarf will be approximately 8.5 inches. If you'd like to make a wider Shallows, cast on 55 stitches. You'll also need more beads—my modified scarf will use 136 in all. I'm also making it longer by adding rows in the stockinette sections.

When I was about ten inches in, I decided to block it, to see what width and length I could expect. One reason I like circular needles for flat knitting is that it's easy to block a piece right on the needle. I slid the knitting to the center of cable, soaked it in Eucalan and cold water for 25 minutes, then pinned it out.

Raspberry Shallows Scarf

To get crisp, even edges, I used blocking wires. I threaded the wire under stitches on each side of the scarf, then used pins to hold the wires in place. I also used pins to accentuate the scallops.

I like to wait a good 24 hours, sometimes longer, to take lace off the wires. Even when it feels dry to the touch, the yarn may still have some moisture in it. (Of course, with gift knitting, this isn't always possible!)

Do you use wires when blocking lace? And where do you block your lace projects? I usually put towels or a spare sheet on the living room rug. There's plenty of space, I can leave it overnight, and the rug really holds the pins well.

I'm using stitch markers to set off the lace repeats (you can see them on the needle in the first photo). But because markers can sometimes cause subtle but noticeable ladders in stockinette, I'm removing them during the stockinette sections. To keep them handy, I put them on a locking stitch marker and attach that near the cast-on edge.

Raspberry Shallows in 
Progress

While the scarf was blocking, I could see that I was having a bit of a problem with "rowing out" in the stockinette section (my wrong-side purl stitches were sometimes looser than the right-side knit stitches). I decided it wasn't bad enough to warrant ripping back, but to prevent it going forward I'm now using a smaller needle for purling the wrong-side rows during the stockinette sections. That seems to be correcting the problem.

If you're knitting Shallows, or just new to lace knitting, I hope you'll find these tips helpful. Bonne chance!

8 comments:

KnitNana said...

Oh that's a pretty color! Thank you for the suggestions, yes, I do block lace, and I usually use the puzzle-piece blocking mat and wires I picked up at Knitpicks. I think those puzzle pieces are available anywhere. I get lots of "help" when I'm pinning out a piece (The Tonk LOVES the wires), so I do it on the floor of my bedroom and then the kitties are shut out of the room while it dries. :)

adrienne *+*(^_^) +*+ said...

Very pretty scarf. I knit continental and for a while was having some issues with looser purl stitches. I think it's the way the needle enters the stitch while purling that tends to stretch the stitch out a bit more then when knitting. I started holding my needles at a more perpendicular angle when purling and it doesn't seem to stretch the purl stitch out as much so the stitches look more uniform. 0.o

Bonnie said...

Thanks for the tip, Adrienne!

Betsey said...

Thanks for the lace tips!

Anonymous said...

This is absolutely lovely. I may venture into lace with this.

Susan said...

Very very pretty scarf- Shallows is going right into my queue! Like KnitNana, I also block lace on interlocking blocking mats and use wires. I can put the mats together to fit a project of any shape. Plus if needed, I can move my project to another room while it's drying.

miek 2 said...

thank you for explaining how to block knitware. i thought i had to steam it or iron it, but luckely i read your story hahaha.
i`m new to lace knitting and have knitted when i was young.
but i like it again, with so manny new things to use.
greetings from holland

KPiep said...

You have the most fabulous light for your pictures!

I do love that raspberry. I have a very similar yarn in my stash and it needs a purpose.