Wednesday, June 23, 2010

KAL the Fourth.

It's hard to believe it's been nearly six weeks since we started our third KAL (Springtime Bandit). We've loved seeing everyone's shawls and the "knit along" was really helpful when we had  had questions or ran into problems.

So we are excited to announce our fourth KAL: Annis by Susanna IC, a free pattern from the latest Knitty. It's getting rave reviews on Ravelry - check out the project gallery  to see why we're excited about it!
...and if you're still wondering "why another shawl", it's because this is not "another triangular shawl that starts at the center back". Nope, this is a full crescent-shaped shawl that starts with the lace edge and ends with stockinette, shaped with short rows. And you can do beading or nupps to add texture to the lace section.
The designer has knit four versions of the pattern in different weights and even posted directions for a mini version. Her version for Knitty used just less than 400 yards of lace-weight, but many have also used fingering weight (aka "sock yarn"). Those fingering weight versions are also coming in at around 400 yards (some more, some less).

You know we have plenty of options in both lace and fingering weight - lovely solids and semi-solids in wool, alpaca and other blends. I've opted for fingering but had a hard time making the final selection. I narrowed it down to a skein of malabrigo sock in primavera (Jane says it makes my skin glow) and a skein of madelinetosh sock in composition book gray (Jane says it makes my blue eyes pop - btw, Jane knows how to sell yarn, doesn't she?!). I decided to swatch both and make my decision once I saw them knitted up.

Long story short (details below!) the composition book gray wins!
I knit my swatch from the lace pattern chart, adding a few rows of plain stockinette at the end. My gauge is slightly smaller than the 14 st/4" that the pattern states, but I'm ok with a slightly smaller shawl.

Swatching Specs:
  • Knitted cast-on using size 9 needles - it is VERY important to have a loose cast on. Many forum posts suggested this one - and I think it works perfectly.
  • Purled back (still using size 9s) to create a foundation row - I made this modification at the suggestion of other forum posts - some chose to knit the foundation row, but I opted to purl it since the lace pattern is stockinette and the first pattern row is the right side (knitted).
  • Switched to size 7 needles to knit the chart, slipping the beginning stitches purl-wise with the yarn in back on the knit rows and in front on the purl rows.
  • I played around with the nupps, too. On the swatch above, I used Nancy Bush's method, with only 5 wraps (K, YO, K, YO, K into the stitch) instead of 7. I also tried Myra Wood's method, but I just couldn't handle the crochet hook and the knitting needles together. My nupps are definitely less "bumpy" than some - but I'm pleased with the result.
If you're curious, here's the malabrigo sock version, knit on size 8s (with size 10s for the cast-on and foundation row).
This was just too open for me. I could see, though, that with lace-weight that would be more heavily blocked, the bigger needles might be fine.

Lesson learned? swatch!!!  (and if you're really questioning your results, wet block and pin out your swatch!!)

Project Highlights (please refer to the pattern for all the details):
  • Construction/Pattern - this is a crescent shaped shawl, knitted in one piece starting at the outside edge of the lace and shaped with short rows. 
  • Yarn - approximately 400 yards of lace or fingering weight.
  • Needles - see above for my thoughts on size. You'll want to use a circular needle so you have enough room for all the stitches. The pattern suggests a 32" needle (the cast-on is 363 stitches!!) and something longer would certainly work.
  • Knitting Skills - intermediate lace, including increasing, decreasing and following a chart. nupps and short rows. Note that the pattern on Knitty is charted only, but the Ravelry pattern page does include written instructions.
 We'll be casting on this Friday, June 25 at 2pm. Please join us virtually if you can't be at the shop in person!


  1. I like the gray yarn, too. I can't wait to start knitting!

  2. looking forward to joining-love BOTH colors, but agree about the gray. thanks for posting the swatching notes