Pattern: Peacock Feathers shawl by Dorothy Siemens from Fiddlesticks
Made for: My Godmom
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk Yarn, 2/18 Lace Weight (50% Chinese Tussah silk, 50% fine grade Merino wool), Violet Colorway
Yardage: I estimate I used about 1220 yards of Zephyr. My “one-pound” cone originally weighed 17.3 oz and now weighs 13.4 oz — I used 3.9 oz of yarn — and according to Ravelry a 16.1 oz cone should yield 5040 yards of yarn)
Yarn Source: Sarah’s Yarns
Needles: US size 4 KnitPicks Options circular needles
Dorothy’s reflections on her design process from Knitting Beyond the Hebrides provides wonderful insight into the design process.
SMOOTHING OUT THE TANGLES:
This pattern is unbelievably easy to knit and work with. The hardest part for me was reading the charts both ways. Basically, since the pattern is a mirror-image of itself along the center spine of the shawl, you work the chart from right-to-left (which to me is the “normal” way) and then once you reach the end of the chart you’re at the center-point of the shawl and you work the chart backwards, mirroring exactly the work you’ve just done.
I really struggle with messing up visual things and so reversing the slip-slip-knit and knit-two-together stitches, and symbols, was a challenge. I literally had to write out a big box for myself at the top of the pattern reminding me which was which, and I constantly referred to my little diagrams.
Other than the reverses, the only other thing to keep an eye on is the double yarn-overs, which will fall apart on the wrong (all purl) side of the piece unless you purl and then knit. This was hard for me to remember as the purl rows were my space-out rows and I had to go back more than once to re-do them.
Sadly, even though this pattern was so relatively easy, I managed to lose track of my knitting twice. Once it was so bad that I had to rip back about 10 rows to my lifeline. When things went south the second time, I fought back and was actually able to rescue the lace. More details on lace resuscitation can be found in my post on the ordeal here.
One of my favorite parts of this shawl is the edging, which is actually knit back and forth as part of the shawl instead of as a later add-on that must be knit perpendicular to the shawl edge. If you’ve never worked a crochet hook before, don’t despair. All that’s required for this edging is simple single-crochet and if you mess it up the crochet is stretched out so much that it will never show up anyway. In the below photo, each pin is securing a crochet loop and you can see that the loops are pulled tight.
Right off the needles, it was clear that Peacock Feathers is a beautiful pattern. More than other lace I’ve worked, it had character beyond the mushroom-of-fiber that most lace resembles. I really got the sense of the texture and pattern of the piece from the unblocked finished product:
I don’t know why, but a photo of lace in a blocking bath just looks yummy to me! Here is Peacock Feathers resting in a bowl of warm water and a capful of Soak wool wash (the best stuff — thanks to Mick for turning me on to it!)
I really blocked the crap out of this sucker, making each feathery flourish as rounded as I could make it. I’ve seen other shawls out there with more linear edges, but for mine I wanted a look that was as scalloped as I could get.
The shawl was so large that I blocked one whole side first, from the left tip all the way down to the central “feather” and even one feather beyond (this was necessary to make the central feather block out correctly). Once the first half was blocked, I re-dunked the still-slightly-damp second half of the shawl and blocked it the same way. I used blocking wires secured with T-pins to secure the top, straight edge of the shawl and I ran a second blocking wire down the center-line to help keep things even.
This isn’t the most gorgeous finished-object final shot ever, but it gives a good sense of the drape and airy lightness of the piece. It’s as elegant and unique as it’s namesake!