Thursday, May 22, 2008

Knit It Like Nietzsche

I began the Wedding Ring Shawl.

I noticed an error in the Wedding Ring Shawl.

I frogged the Wedding Ring Shawl.

I re-knit the Wedding Ring Shawl right up to the row I missed.

And then I realized something.

The yarn's not working.

Truly, it's not. I've let the piece sit for a few days so as not to make any hasty decisions. I've played with it, stretched it, patted it, and even wet blocked a portion of it. I did everything but put it on the altar and pray for a miracle. And it's not working.

It's too thick. It's too heavy. Sharon Miller wrote this pattern for a cobweb yarn, and that's what the design needs. In this yarn, what should look ethereal looks instead like it should be hanging off Stevie Nicks in the mid-1970s. That's fine if that's what you want to knit, but that's not what I want to knit.

On the sample card Sharon sent with the shawl pattern is a gossamer silk. Much thinner, as you can see, than the red Skacel merino.

Skacel Merino Lace vs Heirloom Knitting Gossamer Silk

I knit and blocked a little (about 1 1/2 inch) swatch with the silk on a US 0 (2 mm) needle.

Swatch in Gossamer Silk

Yes. Much better. I've ordered a cone from Heirloom Knitting. I'm going to do this right, or I'm not going to do it at all. The red merino will become another, heavier lace piece.

If that which does not kill us makes us stronger, this shawl is making me a very strong knitter. Either that, or I'm going end up wandering the streets of Chicago talking to a six-foot-tall silkworm nobody else can see. Time will tell.

57 comments:

Kath said...

One of many lessons I've learned from an older and wiser knitter (Hi Mom!) is to listen to the yarn. It will tell you if it wants to be a particular pattern or not. Ignoring its wishes or trying to defy it is just asking for trouble.

brandilion said...

I know that silkworm. His name is Hank.

Tsarina of Tsocks said...

So hasty in ordering! and here I was about to offer you a few thousand yards of very beautiful Italian cobwebweight (2/48, about 60 wpi) merino in a deep deep plummy purple. Then again, maybe you don't want a deep deep plummy purple; if you do, though, I've got plenty. IAC, you are wise to listen to your yarn. It wouldn't lie to you.

v.j. said...

I am glad you made that hard decision, Franklin. It didn't work. You would have had to call it a napkin righ shawl. And the color was wrong also; atleast in that yarn weight. vj

Lynda the Guppy said...

Kath, I totally agree with your mom. I can tell when a yarn isn't working or I just don't like the way it's coming out. And every time I've tried to force the issue, I have nothing but problem after problem after problem. But if I bow to the wishes of the fiber and change things around, it's nothing but smooth sailing.

So good luck Franklin!

Lise said...

Now I understand why I'm not such a good lace knitter. I don't have your patience and determination. I would have just plowed ahead mistakes and all.. or completely given up.

You may have just given me the inspiration to try again.

Sock Knitter said...

Oh, DUDE?!

You're simply amazing. Fkn awesomely amazing and my hero!

I am afraid I would have just given up :(

Nessa said...

My chest is hurting a bit from the trials you have endured already with this shawl. That said, I would have done the same thing, but with a year between putting away the red and starting with the cobweb. :)

Good luck on the shawl, can't wait to see the finished product!

Ros Ritchie said...

My heart bleeds for you. it's such a huge undertaking to do it all over again (again). BUT, I totally get the "needing to do it right or not at all" thing. It's not that we're perfectionists (honest!), but these things are a labour of love and the journey and the end are equally important. All credit to you.

MollyBeees said...

It's going to be gorgeous! Keep up updated with lots of pics, yes?

trek said...

Yikes - that cobweb stuff looks about the diameter of a single play of your red merino!

Ever think about just popping over to the local quilt shop and purchasing a spool of thread?

Just kidding...

manic knitter said...

Hey Franklin, did you know you're featured on the Lion Brand's blog site today. They're talking about your 1000 Knitters project. :-)

April said...

Will the silkworm's name be Harvey?

sloth-knits said...

That silk yarn is...wow...I want to buy a cone just so I can look at it. And I thought the Skacel was thin. As others have said, your perseverance is amazing!

Fyberduck said...

I feel your pain. The only way I could find yarn fine enough for the shawl was to buy gossamer silk from Habu Textiles.

One Sock Short said...

And is that silkworm very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Habit?

You have proved, once again, that you are a fabulous knitter. Only a fabulous knitter could be brave enough to frog like that.

Patti said...

Wow... wedding ring shawl in cobweb weight yarn. I bow to the master. My recent bout with a very simple lace just about had me and the lace in the back field after dark, with a shovel, but fortunately my husband intervened, and my Juno Regina is done, but I'm still not speaking to it, nor has it been blocked yet.

Marin (AntiM) said...

"Well, thank you Harvey! I prefer you too."

The tortured metaphor: always go with the fibre you prefer (but really just an excuse to get a Harvey quote in).

Seanna Lea said...

I vote for the 6 foot tall silkworm. I think I have one of those (or something similar) following me around. Mine likes to bat at my yarn or my knitting and make snide comments.

Jennu said...

I just hope the silk worm gets along with Dolores.

Muriel said...

ROFL But you already talk to alcoholic imprudent sheep and a ball of talking sock yarn, so would a large silkworm be such a switch?

Sue said...

dude I've seen that silkworm.

Lynn said...

Hey! That's MY six-foot-tall silkworm! Give him back!

KellyD said...

And the name of the worm? Hiaku? Just a thought. As for me? I have an alpaca named Harry who accompanies me everywhere. And tap dances while i am trying to count stitches. It's quite annoying actually.

The J said...

I was liking the red when you showed pics, but that little bit of cobweb...

WOW.

Knocked my socks off. Will definitely seem like it's going faster this time around. When it clicks, it clicks!

Anonymous said...

That which does not kill us
will leave us maimed and suffering.

m1k1 said...

Good luck with the gossamer silk. I bought one of Sharon's gossamer sample packs which had about 10gms of this in what looked blue but was probably the silver. Worked beautifully.
I bought a cone of the cream, which felt a bit like straw when I washed the sample. I haven't tried re-washing yet, but I am hopeful.
I used 0.7 mm needles, which I find easier. I would find it quite a challenge with larger needles.
But I know it will be beautiful.

FiberQat said...

I told you red was lousy for a wedding shawl!

My verification word is narln.

Anonymous said...

the silk will block much easier than anything with wool in it

geogrrl said...

I vote for the 6-foot tall silkworm

geogrrl said...

I disagree with fiberqat that red is wrong for a wedding shawl.

In Celtic culture, red is traditional for good luck. Older Shetland veils were in red or red and cream/white.

So red is perfectly acceptable as a colour for a wedding shawl.

Anonymous said...

Franklin,
Sorry about your loss. On a selfish note, I was eager to see what red lace looks like! I think that red lace would be vibrantly lovely.

Well, as better knitters than I have pointed out, ya gotta listen to the yarn.
Margie in Maryland

Donna Lee said...

What a dfference. It's worth doing it right. You want to love it when it's done.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I remember back when I was a new knitter and thought (blithely) I'd do a lace shawl out of Vogue Knitters... it wasn't looking right. Took it into the old, smaller version of my LYS. Oh, the pattern's wrong... here, here and here. Had to do with them typing YO symbols instead of KTogs as I recall. Glad you can "do it right" and feel good about this.

bcat said...

Wow, there must be something in the air or planets doing the aligning--or non-aligning thing. I'm about half way through a shawl and today I frogged/tinked/cajoled and reknit the same 8 rows 4 times. Aigu!!! Such is the life of lace. Looking forward to seeing the new yarn when it arrives.

Kate said...

Will the silkworm be called Harvey?

Anne said...

Personally I think the silkworm should be called Diego, or something of that ilk... if you're going to have a 6 foot silkworm around, he may as well be muscular and good looking, with a touch of latin mystery!

Gabrielle said...

That is really lovely - I love the idea of knitting with cobweb weight silk yarn but recent brushes with seasilk worms on public transport frightened the tangled life out me.

Even though I tried to curb their unruly tendencies with clingfilm, I wasn't ever sure what would come first: Waterloo, the unpicking of a knot or the end of my row.

They are shorter than you might think in real life, you know - but still very, very slippery characters.

rosesmama said...

Is the silk slippery? It looks like a very stay at home project. A beautiful stay at home project, that needs point protectors, used diligently. best wishes

Emma said...

I'm knitting it in the silk. I started the outer border today, which is a huge milestone.

I started in the cobweb, stuffed it up, and had to learn the pattern on some spare sock yarn.

Think of this as training for the silk.

KnitNana said...

Ok...can't WAIT to see the silkworm cartoon!

(the new shawl will be stunning, and yarn is very intuitive, knowing what it wants to be)
(((hugs)))

Barca Viola said...

I'm from Chicago and I have been on a few streets where there would be a lot of people who could see that silkworm. In fact, they'd be saying "hello" to him before you even introduced him. (His name is Mul, all those leaves he ate.) Actually, every place I've lived has those streets. Hmmm, I wonder what that means...

Gerrie in St Paul
PS: I thought the red lace wedding shawl was a grand notion. Marriage/union is a bold move!

Martha0051 said...

But I don't understand. Why DIDN'T you put it on the altar and pray for a miracle? Isn't that how you got Dolores?

Lista said...

Here I was, happily (more or less) knitting away on my much-less-complex-than-yours shaw, knowing in the back of my mind that the yarn wasn't working but ignoring the fact, and then you have to go and post this. Sigh. Away I go to frog my shaw and start again with different yarn. Because you're right. If I don't, it won't be what I wanted it to be.

Deborah C. said...

Well, while the red was lovely, it doesn't hold a candle to the silk. I'm glad you listened to the yarn, I think the finished shawl will be stunning and worth the pain of frogging. Are you using wood needles? Silk is incredibly slippery! My verification's nuhpaegn - does the computer know something??

Carol said...

The silk is lovely but I agree something in red would be luscious.
Good luck with your pooka.

Alwen said...

Two words:

Habu Textiles

JanKnitz said...

I loved the red merino and the look of the lace you were making, but I wondered about it's weight and how big your WRS was going to be.

I completely agree with your starting over, however. If YOU are not happy with it, you will ALWAYS think about what's wrong instead of enjoying it. No fun in that.

Just keep thinking PROCESS. It's the process of knitting that gives joy to the knitter. So you are getting LOTS of process!

Kristen said...

I for one am hoping it doesn't kill you...

lizbon said...

I know it's (incredibly) painful, but if it makes you feel any better, I think that was the right decision. That heavier red yarn just didn't look right, and the little swatch has a gloriously airy look to it.

halfasheep said...

I met that silkworm, too. But this one's named Stanley!

Marlene said...

Franklin -

You really inspire me. I am starting to get more into lace knitting and reading about your wedding ring shawl makes me vow to never tolerate a mistake again. You're a true artist!

JohnK said...

Best Blog post title EVER

Kate said...

The silkworm would have to be tough to match up to Dolores.

Gail said...

It's comforting to see I am not the only Harvey fan. I can't wait to see what you do with the red Skacel merino. I have an identical skein lurking in my stash. The silk certainly has an ephemeral mood worthy of fine lace, but I will miss the sturdy red.

Paula in Oldham said...

You did the right thing. Here's a snippet from wikipedia: "The large and many holes in lacy knitting makes it extremely elastic; for example, some Shetland "wedding-ring" shawls are so fine that they may be drawn through a wedding ring." The red yarn was gorgeous but, alas, too thick for this project.

Scarlet said...

Well, Nietzsche had several widely accepted ideas, but I'm afraid I have to amend the "makes us stronger" theory. That which does not kill us generally hurts like 7734 (no wikipedia for that one; grab a calculator, input the numbers, then invert the screen). Granted, "makes us stronger" is a little more poetic.

I loved the shawl the way it was, but if you're not happy with it, then I suppose that's the way it goes. Good luck, and knitting-gawd speed.