During the Winter Olympics, I knitted an Age of Steam and Brass Kerchief from a lovely gradient handspun yarn. When I started the project, I didn’t realize it would be such a fast knit, so I found myself needing to start another project. Good sense would have led me to knitting a pair of fingerless mitts or finishing a sock I already have OTN, but no one ever accused me of using good sense.
Instead, I decided to knit a lace shawl. I need another lace shawl like I need a hole in my head, but there’s little I love in my knitting life than knitting a lace shawl. And I knew just the pattern. Way back when, in the Spring of 2005, I set aside this issue of Interweave Knits because I wanted to knit this darling little shawl designed by Evelyn A. Clark. It’s called the Paisley Lace Shawl, and it has a border of paisley lace. I love paisley. I love lace. I love this shawl pattern.
So I dug around in my yarn closet and found some lovely Knit Picks Gloss lace weight in a beautiful brownish-red called Fiesta. Gloss is a heavy lace weight yarn in a wool/silk blend, so it is soft and it drapes beautifully. And the silk gives it just a hint of sheen. I had four 440-yard skeins, and the shawl calls for 1,125 yards of Zephyr, another beautiful wool/silk lace yarn, so I knew I would have plenty of yarn.
I cast on using 4 mm needles and went to town. The shawl pattern calls for it to be knitted in garter stitch, but I don’t like lace knitted in garter stitch unless the yarn is very fine. Gloss is a pretty heavy lace weight, so I decided to knit the shawl in stocking stitch. That was my first pattern modification.
My second modification was to make the shawl bigger. The center of the shawl is knitted in a simple eyelet pattern that is easy to memorize and quick to knit. But the finished shawl is rather small. I wanted a larger shawl, so I did a little math and knitted three more repeats of the eyelet chart. I knew I had plenty of yarn, so I didn’t hesitate to knit the shawl bigger. And three more repeats gave me the proper number of stitches to add one more repeat of each paisley pattern in the border. The only fudging I had to do was add one extra stitch at both the beginning and end of the paisley border pattern. I could have decreased two stitches when knitting the last round of eyelet border to make the stitch count identical to the chart, but I just remembered to knit 3 instead of 2 at the beginning and end of each quarter.
Anyway, in no time I had finished the center of the shawl. The pattern was totally autopilot knitting and perfect for TV knitting. I dove right into knitting the paisley border, and while the pattern is a little too complex to be totally memorized, it was pretty simple to knit. I just had to refer to the chart briefly at the beginning of each round to make sure I knew what I was doing for that round.
The big challenge came when it was time to bind off the shawl, and this is where I made the third modification. In the pattern, a simple picot bind off is used. I did this bind off once on another shawl and I hated it. I really dislike doing it, and I really dislike the way it looks. If I had been running short of yarn, I would have done a crochet-loop bind off.
But I still had one full skein and about a third of another skein left, so I decided to do a knitted-on edging. I cobbled together an edging that had the eyelet chart pattern in it, but after knitting it on one quarter of the shawl, I didn’t like the way it looked. The place where the edging stitches were joined with the border stitches really stood out like a sore thumb, and the eyelets seemed out of place, even though the entire center of the shawl has the same eyelets.
So I ripped it out and went back to the drawing board. I poured though various books and finally decided on one of my go-to edgings, Ocean Waves. I think the curvy bits reflect the curves of the paisley pattern. And the place where the edge stitches connect with the border stitches blends in much better than the first pattern I tried.
I have one quarter completed and have a pretty good start on the second quarter. I haven’t gotten enough of the edging done to be able to do a dry-stretch of the shawl, but I think it’s going to look pretty darned good, don’t you?