This Picking Daisies Shawl from Melanie Berg was my summer knitting project. I cast on in May shortly after turning in my grades for the spring semester. In the past, I would have churned my way through several projects over the summer, but my desire to knit this summer was quieter and more intermittent. So I just concentrated my limited energy on working slowly and steadily, and I finally bound off the day before the Autumn Equinox.
The yarn came as a kit from Craftsy, which I bought myself for my birthday because I enjoyed knitting and wearing my Drachenfels Shawl so much. The kit came with four skeins of Cloudborn Fibers Merino, which is a fingering weight merino single from Craftsy’s in house yarn line. I basically wanted to reproduce the shawl as it appeared in one of the sample photos on Craftsy, so I picked the colors that seemed closest—Charcoal Heather, Light Gray Heather, and Magenta.
The gray striped section of the shawl is very easy knitting that is perfect for picking up and putting down. The clustered stitch pattern used to knit up the magenta yarn was obviously more complex than the simple garter and slip stitch patterns used elsewhere in the shawl. But it wasn’t terribly tricky to complete and it was really satisfying to watch it come together. Plus, after so much garter stitch in gray yarn, the more complicated cluster stitches were a welcome relief. The most tedious thing about this pattern was dealing with all of the ends that needed weaving in. I’m glad I had the foresight to stop a few times in the process of knitting this and weave in the ends I had produced at that point—it made finishing the shawl a little less painful.
When I bound off the shawl, the clustered stitch sections were pretty bunched up and, in their relaxed state, were probably a good three inches narrower than the surrounding garter sections. It was clear that it needed aggressive blocking to get a good finish, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered some blocking wires. Getting the shawl laid out with the blocking wires took a long time and felt pretty tedious, but the result is totally worth it. I was able to completely open up the cluster stitch pattern and even out all the sides of the shawl. And now that it’s been blocked, it feels soft and drapey and lovely to wear.
2018 has unexpectedly turned out to be the year of the knitting tool for me. Since January, I’ve bought a swift, ball winder, scale, sock blockers in my size and Aidan’s, wool wash, blocking mats, new birch DPNs for knitting sleeves, new stainless steel 16” circular needles for hat knitting, locking stitch markers, and blocking wires. I think I finally had an epiphany this year and realized that investing in good sewing tools had made for a much better sewing experience, and that it was kind of ridiculous that I was still knitting like I was a broke college student/beginner knitter. Obviously, none of these things is necessary (I’ve managed to get through more than a decade of knitting with cheap or improvised tools), but they definitely make for a nicer experience. Maybe at some point I’ll actually upgrade from the Fiskars safety scissors I keep in my notions pouch!