A Joy Forever

After five months of on-again, off-again attention, “Bethany Getting Married” for my friend Bethany Joy is finally finished – surprise of surprises, before her May wedding! The magic of blocking did its work of transforming the ramen manta ray you saw in yesterday’s post into an airy triangle of glory. (I did thoroughly vacuum the mattress of the pull-out couch before blocking this beauty, so try not to worry; even though it looks sort of shnarsty, it is safe.)

This is my first time knitting for anything so important as someone else’s wedding, so it felt like a big responsibility in addition to the honor. So of course, it would figure that I’d be doing an immensely difficult pattern that required a whole lot of attention and some fairly serious backtracking at certain points. I tried very had to fill the shawl with good thoughts I was knitting, as imprecations on a project and/or the quadriped it rode in on are not exactly the mojo you want to be putting into a wedding garment. But blocking fills one with so much pleasure and happiness that I suspect it wipes away any and all residual negativity.

Yarn Review: Grignasco MerinoSilk is an amazing, enormous hank of very fine lace made of (you guessed it) merino wool and silk. Italians make lots of high-quality yarn, but this stuff is not only made in Italy but distributed by an Italian company, so you know it has to be good. It is a 2-ply lace, but it is particularly fine – I know this only because the finished shawl, fully stretched in blocking, has a 6″ shorter wingspan than the pattern describes the finished object being.

6″, in this case, may mean the difference between a shawl and a shawlette, as it was already on the smallish side of shawls. But it can still be worn draped over the shoulders, scrunched and wrapped around the neck with a pin, or any other way the recipient can imagine. (I love wearing things like this scrunched up sometimes – they’re very warm on the neck if given the chance to bunch up and trap lots of air, and you can get away with wearing them in much more casual circumstances than you would if wearing them flat. You don’t see the pretty pattern as well, but it’s like your little secret.) It won’t be useful in the dead of winter, but if the only cold you’re fighting is the air conditioning at your rehearsal dinner, this sort of thing is perfect. It is called the “Triangular Summer Shawl,” so this is only logical.

Pattern review: I think it is quite possible that the Triangular Summer Shawl is the most difficult piece of knitting I have ever executed – and that’s after having made two other projects out of Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia. I’m sure it didn’t help that I kept putting it down for long periods of time. But it was plenty challenging – having to do nupps always right next to yarn overs, having to follow enormous charts because the edge pattern repeat was constantly changing to fit in the decreasing triangle, was very difficult. I had never done lace in garter stitch before, as occurred only on the borders, so that was also unique. This is a great pattern if you are an experienced lace knitter looking for something to keep you on your toes. In the end it only took about 630 yards (the patterns in this book are woefully vague on yarn quantities), though you will need more if you use a less cobwebby lace.

The other thing to look out for is the lace edging on the bottom. The pattern has you bind off both the center and the edging and sew them together, which to me is rather odd, and looks sort of uneven. It takes a great deal of fudging to get it to line up, much more than the pattern suggests. You can see in the blocking pictures above that I tried to block out some of the unevenness. This probably goes into the category of things that no one but the knitter would notice, but you can see it even in the pictures in the book, so its worth consideration if that sort of thing gets to you. I think the nupps are far too distractingly pretty for it to matter.

I just did the test – The whole thing, nupps and all, passes easily through my wedding ring. But I don’t think it counts unless it passes through your ring, Bethany, so you should try!

I want to keep it around to look at it, but it’s burning a hole in my cedar chest. After so long on the needles, it seems to be saying, “I’m done! Send me home please!”

6 thoughts on “A Joy Forever

  1. Bethany says:

    Rebecca – the shawl is gorgeous. Perhaps one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen! (I’m not exaggerating!) Your gift of time, skill, and happy thoughts while knitting are inestimable. I cannot *wait* to feel the shawl on my shoulders – hopefully sooner rather than later! (we’re overdue for a visit as is!) I got all tingly just looking at the pictures…You. Are. Amazing. =) =)

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  2. Bethany says:

    p.s. I’ve never heard of the ‘wedding ring’ test – is there a story/tradition/meaning behind that?

    p.p.s. happy (belated) Epiphany! looks like you all had a great day =)

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    • admin says:

      I don’t know how it got started or what the significance is, but supposedly on the Shetland Islands of Scotland, they would knit shawls out of superfine “cobweb” lace, and the test of its quality was whether you could slip the whole thing through a wedding ring. So whenever I knit a lace shawl I like to see 🙂

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  3. Linda says:

    Your dad and I looked at these pictures and were speechless! You are quite a skilled lace and texture knitter. To achieve enough skill to knit such a work of art is a precious gift! Bethany congratulations….on your wedding to come and on receiving the shawl!
    Note: I too knit a wedding shawl for myself when Rebecca got married on a hot day in late June…..ummm…..what possessed me to double the yarn and make it so thick? I’m not sure. It’s really pretty and was fun/easy to knit but it was way too heavy for that summer. Oh well, it’s perfect for a cool spring day.

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  4. […] as one could be without being a bridesmaid or an immediate relative, and it was so fun. Bethany, of shawl fame, tied the knot on Saturday in high Catholic fashion, and it was a good time. My pictures of the […]

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