Sunday, June 04, 2006

Amazing Lace - Challenge #1 - Meet Team Swallowtail

The first challenge in The Amazing Lace is to introduce the team. Please allow me to introduce Team Swallowtail, starting with myself, the Knitter. Yup, that blurry little photo is probably the perfect self-portrait. Although I have dabbled a bit in lace, I am, primarily, a sock knitter. And yes, just as the picture is slightly out of focus, so too do I lack a bit of focus now and then.

Pro the knitter: Determined to succeed. Has a fairly competitive nature.

Con the knitter: Fairly short attention span. Does not have a good track record of finishing large projects. Have you seen even one of those little project graphs on the side bar grow? Even a bit? Nope. Nary a one, and nary by a smidge. I believe it is safe to say that this knitter will likely be the Weakest Link in the team. (Oops, wrong show!)

The project I have chosen to accompany me on this journey is the Tiger Swallowtail Shawl, designed by Brenda Zuk, available from her website which is chockful of her wonderful designs - Needle Beetle. When I first saw this design, I knew that I had to knit it some day. That day has arrived.

This is not a wispy little shawl - no cobweb, thru-a-ring bit of fluff. This is a project of substance! The pattern calls for a DK weight cotton, so I'm thinking it will come out more like a butterfly blankie.

Pro the Design: Pretty butterfly! A yarn that you can actually see and feel. And charts!

Yes, charts -- readable charts! With nice dark lines every ten squares, like a cross-stitch chart. Bless you, Brenda Zuk!

Con the Project: Charts!

As in -- lots of charts! Big charts! On-both-sides-of-the-page charts! With patterning on both the right side and the wrong side rows! This project will require some planning -- some organization. I will have to -- eek --PAY ATTENTION.

Lace is usually made up of some YOs, some K2togs and some SKPs; right? My pretty butterfly? Umm, no.

That's it - the legendary legend with the decreases all done in purl. Every .. single .. one.

And if that's not enough, there is also this:

See that little tiny part outlined in red? That's the knitting instructions. See that humungous part outlined in green? That's the * crochet * border. ACK! Crochet border? You mean like with one of those hook thingys? My subconscious mind must have conveniently blocked that when I read the pattern description on the website. Because you know what? I don't know how to crochet, other than a provisional cast-on. But that's not real crochet -- it's more like knitting with a crochet hook. For now, I have decided that I will pull a Scarlett and worry about that tomorrow.

The yarn Brenda suggests is Butterfly 10.

Pro the Butterfly 10: Lots of pretty colours! Check out that Nectarine down at the bottom!!

Con the Butterfly 10: Not available locally. I could order it, but then I'd have to wait. And I think I've already mentioned my short attention span.

Maybe I have something in stash that would work -- such as this:

Pro the blue yarn: It's the right weight, I've got lots of it, and it's blue -- my favourite colour!!

Con the blue yarn: Well, there's this:

Denim. Which *could* mean I'd have a really cool butterfly when all is said and done. But this is the yarn that shrinks when you wash it, which * would * play total havoc with my gauge. My butterfly would be the most bizarrely shaped bug you'd ever seen. Unless, of course, there was, well, you know, some way to, well, kind of ... shrink it ... beforehand.

And, a mere four and a half hours later, I have this:

Yes, I am sometimes my own worst enemy. Dudes, I killed it. My carefully tied knots came untied and I have a mass of shrunken, knotted-up, hopelessly tangled blue spaghetti. I managed to fatally wound a potential partner before the race even began!

I was left with no choice. I HAD to go to the LYS and dig through all the yarns there and examine every cubbyhole and pet every single skein and stick my fingers into every ball they had. It was pure torture! :-) But I found this:

The Cotton Classic is a trifle heavier than what is called for, but I'm fine with that. I totally love the colour. It's a very in-your-face green and likely even glows in the dark, although I haven't tested that yet. Although someone somewhere likely calls it Spring Green, or Fresh Grass Green, or even some sappy name like Mountain Dew, it shall henceforth be known around here as Caterpillar Green, and my Swallowtail will end up looking something like this:

The Swatch: The pattern calls for 4.5 mm needles. The Cotton Classic ballband calls for a 5 mm. Good enough for me, 5 mm it shall be :-) Swatch is done! (Did I mention my lack of patience?)

Every team carries a backpack full of accessories. Mine has some bright yellow "string" for the lifelines I am sure to need, some M&Ms for sustenance, some needles, scissors, the standard assortment of knitting paraphernalia. But it also includes a few extras:

Yes, I found my cookie pan, dusted off my old music stand, and dug through a box to find my old cross-stitch magnets. And you know what I found in the box that was supposed to be just cross-stitch stuff?

Koigu!! I have no idea why these two balls of Koigu were in that box. Look at the colours! Brown! Tan! And BLUE !!!!!!!! I'm thinking it would look great as socks with 3x2 ribbing all the way down the leg and the instep and a short row heel. I've got some free needles the right size and could ..... STOP! Please, try to FOCUS!!! Keep your eye on the project at hand:

17 people had something to say:

Kelly said...

ohhh that green is fab and I love the pattern! Can't wait to see how you get on with it!

Anonymous said...

is that driftwood my dear???? love the music stand.

aija said...

Wow, go team! I dig your macgyver chart stand, very cool.

HPNY Knits said...

the team has a good chance!! just keep the sense of humor when you have to do all those p2tg...
I adore koigu, and the colors are very cool for summer.
reminds me of Fire Island NY.
I have also started a lace scarf/shawl from an old VK, but nothing compared to this!
go team go!

JessaLu said...

Finding Koigu when you least expect it is always a bonus ;o)

Good luck!

Kate, the Odd Ball Knitter said...

Bloody riot...I'm looking forward to seeing how this one 'hatches'.

Abigail 1870 pearl said...

Wow, Dave! You have your work cut out for you. The green will really compliment the pattern. I do like a shawl with substance:D

Sorry about the pretty blue yarn. Are you going to detangle it?

aquaknits said...

Hilarious, this post made my day! Great pattern (I'm dizzy just thinking about all that intricacy). Rooting for your team!

Suzie said...

Go Dave Go! I will knit vicariously through you as I have 1. Knitting ADD 2. Fear of Charts

Kris said...

Lovely green! I used to cross-stitch too- those magnets are so useful. :)

Jason said...

Love the green! And the tails are looking great! Challenge #2 was just issued yesterday. I can't wait to see what you come up with. :-)

lexa said...

You sound like me - with the impatience and the inability to crochet! (All I can do is a cast on and chain!)

The green yarn is gorgeous - it's going to be a beautiful butterfly! Can't wait to see it as it progresses.

Ramona said...

I just don't think I am brave enough to try the whole big, complicated, lace shawl thing. Good luck!

Elizabeth said...

LOVE the yarn and the pattern! I'm dabbling in lace, too, but keep going back to the socks. Oh, addictive socks.

Rachel said...

Caterpillar green -- that's genius! Good luck turning your catepillar into a butterfly!

Will Pillage For Yarn said...

*clutches lily*

*dies laughing*

Best. Blog. Post. Ever.

ax174 said...

> the decreases all done in purl

Not a comment, really, just - *cringe*