WIP Leafy Shawl

(Topic: Knitting)

Hi Friends,

A year ago, at a professional conference I attend, a colleague of mine let me know that there was a small yarn shop within walking distance of the hotel – and that she’d be taking me there the next day at lunch. Oh dear, oh woe, what hardship! (joking)

I ended up buying a lovely green hand-dyed yarn, three skeins worth, with matching wooden buttons – with the idea (but no pattern) of making some sort of cowl.

The store tag implies this is a dk weight (thickness) but there is some variation that is almost more like a worsted.

Do you see that variegation?? See it?? Isn’t it GORGEOUS???

 From Looped Yarn Works, color way Aleister. All wool – a tad scratchy but beautiful.

See? Beautiful. Can’t WAIT to work with it!

I was not sure until just very recently that I’d be attending the conference again this year, and, of course, likely to run into the colleague with no cowl around my neck. Because, for some reason, the yarn sat in the bottom of my knitting box all this time, gazing up at me and waiting for me to find (pick) the right pattern and start.

So, once I realized that I wanted desperately to have something off the needles by the conference (about 2 full months from when I started working on this), and once I realized we would be going on enough car trips between then and now that I would have oodles of knitting time, I began picking out a pattern. I used Ravelry to search for patterns I liked (a knitting and crocheting social media platform with a huge pattern library). I like their search engine, because most of the fields you can narrow by are quite useful, and sufficiently specific that I often find what I need quite quickly. Because I was looking less for a particular style of garment and more just for something I “liked”, I left it quite broad and spent several hours browsing. Fair warning, this site can suck you in!!  ­čÖé

Ah, narrowing down the selection. The one on the far right (Dragon Wing) was my original choice, but I didn’t like the way I thought it might lie over a collared shirt, so I saved that pattern for later. The one one the far left (Silver Leaf) had too high a collar. And the next one over from that (DeVine) was fine but didn’t inspire me as much as the second from the right (Folia Cowl). I liked the middle one too (Wrapped in Leaves).

The narrowed down selection. I found out that Wrapped in Leaves had a small/narrow version (Cedar Leaf) – and then I did some math. With the yardage I have, I can probably actually manage to do both the Cedar and Folia!

Normally I narrow my searches to free patterns, but this time I searched more by style – cowl/shawl etc, and with a leaf motif. Not only is this just a pattern I love, but my business name includes the word Greenleaf… so you see, green yarn, leaf pattern…
I ended up buying the two patterns, and am very happy so far.

On a recent car trip, then, I brought one of the patterns along, and the needles it said I would likely need for getting the gauge (stitches per inch/ sizing) correct. I didn’t bring any other needles, the fool I was.

I started with the Cedar Leaf Pattern, which looks awesome, by the way.

Gauge swatching:

The idea behind knitting a sample square before starting the pattern is to make sure that the way you knit, and how tightly you knit, matches how tightly the person who wrote the pattern knits. That means that if you match, the thing you make will come out the same size.

However, if you knit the square and it’s much too big, you can switch to a smaller needle. You still make the same number of stitches, they just end up smaller (and technically tighter) and then you can match the pattern size.

If your square is too small, you can take a size larger needle, and the stitches will just end up bigger/looser.

Sometimes, if the yarn is thinner or thicker than the pattern wanted, and because of that you have to use bigger or smaller needles to get the square to match, you will end up with a much looser  or much tighter fabric, so it’s always a good idea to stick with the thickness/weight of yarn that the pattern recommends, so you’re at least close to what the pattern expects. Otherwise you might end up with a baby sweater that a giant could wear, or a hat for your hubby that only fits on his thumb! If you’re really puzzled, ask an experienced knitter or a clerk in a small private yarn store – they can often help.

The beginning of my first square, DK yarn on #7 needles. The pattern called for 20 sts x 36 rows to come out as a 4″ square. I ended up with a 5″x6″ rectangle! And so I wanted to go to a slightly smaller needle to try to adjust, but had none with me. Oops.

Finished on size #6 needles. It’s a little over 4″ wide, but close enough – I feel like if I go down to #5 needles, my fabric will get really dense (tight/stiff) and won’t be as nice as a shawl, and if a shawl is a little big, it’s no big deal (it might use a tad bit more yarn, that’s all). I still ended up with a rectangle, but another knitting friend assured me that is common, so I’m going to just flow with it.

By now I have cast on all 270 beginning stitches, and am slowly working on rows – I think I’m about 8 or 10 rows in. So I will post more pictures when I’m farther along – or maybe I’ll be done soon enough that the next post about this won’t be a WIP (work in progress) or UFO (unfinished object) any more – it will be a FO (finished object), off the needles!!!

Yours,

Sarah

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