Monday, July 26, 2010

Evenstar: Blocking Magic, Perilous Repairs, and a VERY Happy Ending

Busy with summer travel and projects on a deadline, I have been rather neglecting the blog lately. So let's see what we can do to get caught up ASAP...

The big news that has been waiting the longest to be posted is that I finally finished the Evenstar on June 30th. The beaded edging had been dragging along for weeks, a few points at a time, until I reached the halfway point, and then a sudden spurt got the rest done in a matter of *days*. I was eager to see the end of it. Since it was my first circular shawl, I felt nervous about trying to block it, but a coil of spring wire borrowed from my trusty friend Anita (a.k.a. The Fiber Artist) made the whole process a no-brainer. Once I had threaded the wire through the edging points and pinned it out to stretch the fabric, a length of cotton yarn pinned to the center helped ensure that the radius was consistent all the way around. It came out to a diameter of 57". Here are some photos taken while it was still on the wires, including several wide shots and a closeup of the beaded edging. As always, you may click on any of these photos to see a larger view.

Only one aspect of the finishing on this project left me displeased, and that was the graft where the edging came full-circle. Grafting is never a relaxing or foolproof process even under the best of circumstances (hah!!), and this time I admittedly let it bunch up in places, especially when weaving in the ends, because I simply did not realize how much the fabric would open out when blocked. It turns out that there was ZERO room for error, so that every extra strand showed up like a searchlight in the night sky. The result was really quite ugly (see left and click for a closer look, if you can stomach it).

I tried to persuade myself that this was a minor flaw that others would overlook, but I found my eye so unerringly drawn towards it when I tried to look at the big picture that I decided it would bother ME even if no one else ever spotted the defect. So I set out to fix it, taking some time to think out a careful plan before attempting the repair.

The first step was to locate and untie the anchoring knot at the point where the edging meets the shawl. Once the right threads were loose (a surprisingly effortless process), it was easy to undo the graft and restore the live stitches on both sides, using strands of crochet cotton to serve as flexible stitch holders. I removed a single row on one side so that the graft would result in a full repeat of the edging pattern without adding anything extra. It took several tries to fiddle the loops into place, advance planning and preparation notwithstanding, and I finally had to call a halt to further manipulation for fear of over-handling the yarn. The faggoting on the inside edge proved especially tricky. Here are two photos that document the "during" and "after" of the repair. What I ended up with is still hardly the most perfect or inconspicuous graft in the history of lace knitting, but definitely represents an improvement over the original ugly blob. Hooray, and PHEW!!

This is most definitely a shawl to be WORN and ENJOYED. The fabric is robust as well as airy (thanks to the combination of alpaca and silk fiber in the KnitPicks Shimmer), and it feels luxuriously soft to the touch. I wore it several times to great effect during the festivities associated with my sister-in-law's wedding in Baltimore last weekend. No relevant photos from there have surfaced as of yet, but today I dressed up in my outfit from the rehearsal dinner for a home photo shoot, to be sure I would have something to share. Here are my two favorite shots (one front, one back). I just love the way the circle of lace makes its own perfect little collar when you fold it down on one side and drape it over your shoulders.
Now that's what I call a happy ending!! :-)


  1. Wow, that's some seriously beautiful knitting! Congratulations!

  2. Absolutely stunning! The color is perfect with your dress too. Kudos on a some great knitting.

  3. I feel your pain on the graph situation. It would have driven my nuts too. You will ever be glad you redid it. Your shawl is stunning!... And may I add, Oh Frabjuous day, I have been looking for circular tension wire forever, Thank you so much for posting that link I hopped over there and ordered a coil post haste!

  4. Your Evenstar is inspiring! I'm still chugging through that beaded edging, and it's taking forever. No problems, I just can't do more than a couple pattern repeats at a time. I'm sure my grafting will look even worse than your "before" pic, but I'm kind of resigned to it since, like everything else with this shawl, it will be an entirely new technique for me.