The Swallowtail Shawl is done! And I wore her to work today (to many wonderful compliments).
Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl
Source: Interweave Knits
Yarn: Shelridge Farm “Soft Touch Lace,” 100% wool, 2-ply laceweight
Skeins: Less than 1; a skein is 500 yards
Needles: Addi Turbo size 5 circ, then a size 8, then a size 10
Preblocking size: 34″ wide by 16″ high at the tip
Postblocking size: 54″ wide by 22″ high at the tip
Started: Thursday, May 17 (evening)
Finished: Monday, May 28 (evening)
Modifications: I chose to make the shawl larger, increasing the number of center back motif (“Budding Lace”) repeats. I prefer this proportion–more center motif, with the border qualifying as more of a border. The pattern calls for 14 repeats. In order to match the stitch count up to the next motif properly, the next size up must have 19 repeats. The way this is figured out is that the repeat of the Budding Lace pattern is 6 stitches wide. The repeat for Lily of the Valley border is 10 stitches. Which means you have to increase the Budding Lace by a multiple of 10, and the lowest multiple of 10 that 6 can make is 30, so that makes 5 additional repeats.
Now, what I didn’t pay attention to was that the Peaked Edging repeat is 8 stitches wide. So like someone who is convinced she’s got the theme answer in a crossword puzzle and goes to write it in only to discover the number of boxes is horribly misaligned to the length of the supposed answer, I knit away on the third row of the Peaked Edging (the first row where the stitch count matters) and realized at the end that it was off! By 2 stitches on each half–quite easily remedied. If you do make the larger shawl, you can either sneak two increases at either end of the halves on row 2 (a pf/b [purl front and back] would suffice), or work row 3 as follows (I’m too lazy to make a chart): k2, yo, k1, yo, k2, *k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk, k1; repeat from *, end k1, yo, k1 yo [this is up to the center stitch--repeat this after the center stitch]. The boldface I used here calls out the two instances where the pattern has been changed. The first k2 should have been an ssk and k1, but because you have fewer stitches, you should leave this one as a knit and pretend you decreased there. Same goes for the k1 on the other side, which should be a k2tog.
Note that the pattern says, “The shawl can be made larger by working it with fingering, sport, or worsted-weight yarn on larger needles.” At first, I didn’t realize why it seemed to take the easy way out for making it larger! Ahh, it’s because you can’t just do more repeats like with other patterns!
I’m really happy with the modified size. If I hadn’t it would have been miniscule. I’m not sure if my yarn is a lot thinner than what people usually use (I didn’t do a gauge swatch because, well, I didn’t really care to test it that closely), but it wouldn’t even have wrapped around my shoulders if I hadn’t increased. It’s about the same size as my Kiri, maybe just a tad smaller, even with the increase in size. I think maybe three repeats of the Lily of the Valley border would be my next step for increasing the size–it’s got more than enough of the Budding Lace, I think. To do this, my guess is that you would work Lily of the Valley Border 1, then Lily of the Valley Border 2, then Border 1 again before moving on to the Peaked Edging.
Now, my decrease modifications. Let’s start with the nupps. A p5tog is nigh-on impossible to execute. But slip 2, p3tog, psso is exactly the same (think about it), and decently straightforward to enact, so that’s what I did (thanks to those who reminded me that this is the the way to do it!). I really wish I’d had the Addi Lace needles, though, because even getting the needle into the 3 was sometimes finicky. At times, I used a size 2 Knitpicks needle, which is nice and pointy, and just dragged the new stitch immediately onto the working needles. Since I knew that sl2, p3tog, psso is the same as a p5tog, I also knew that sl4, p1, psso would also be the same (or sl3, p2tog, psso), but that wasn’t any easier–I tried. The real issue was the fact that the stitch just following the nupp is a yo. So of course the yo gets out of place and overlaps the nupp stitches, making getting the needle into the correct stitches a pain, and to add to the problems, the yo pulls at the very last stitch, making it tighter around the needle. There were times when I’d forgotten to do the yo, and it was much easier–and it’s easy to just pick up between stitches to create the yo that was missing. I think if I were to knit Swallowtail again I would not make either yo on the sides of the nupps on the knit row, and just insert them on the purl row. I didn’t do it here because I hadn’t been doing it consistently, and I didn’t want the yo size to be erratic throughout.
The other decrease modification I made was to the “sk2p” (sl1 kwise, k2tog, psso). I decided I didn’t want the stitches to be passed over each other at all–which creates a direction–and instead I wanted a centered double decrease, where the “middle” stitch seems to travel straight up and down with the other two tucked behind it. When I first “discovered” this decrease I used the cabling w/o a cable needle technique to reverse the order of the first two stitches (and twist the second one), but in the edging pattern (of course, only at the END of the knitting!) it occurred to me that there was an easier way. So, I reveal the centered double decrease that I made up but which probably exists in plenty of other books, but I didn’t see it there:
Slip 2 stitches at once as if to k2tog. Slip without any further twisting back to the left needle, then k3tog tbl.
Another modification was for the edging. Just like for my Kiri, I wanted to ensure that the bottom edge was scalloped nicely–no gentle curves or the hint of a scallop for me. To do this, I used a size 8 needle to purl the last row of the Peaked Edging, then a size 10 needle for all the final rows per the pattern (2 rows before the bindoff). I think it was the perfect choice.
I knit the Swallowtail with no particular event in mind–I was just in the mood to knit lace. But I will be attending a black tie wedding in November, and the dress I will probably wear is a simple black sheath, so it will go nicely with that. I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking buying orange laceweight yarn, but I really enjoyed having the lapful of sunshine to knit on. And that’s good because I have another whole skein (and the remainder of this one!) to knit something else.