Monday, May 5, 2008

The Accidental Shawlette

I originally titled this post "Fun and Games With Silky Wool," but the fun and games took an unexpected direction, so . . . .

It begins with these two skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, which my wonderful daughter picked up for me at Let's Knit Yarn Shop in Gardena. They have a huge selection of colors (should you be passing through Gardena and need some Silky Wool).

A 65/35 wool/silk blend, this yarn is billed as a DK, although each 50-gram skein contains about 200 yards. Maybe a cross between heavy fingering and a lite DK? Since the projects I was considering it for involved both lace and/or cabling, I wanted to swatch something that would give a good idea of how the yarn behaved in both situations. The latest edition of Vogue Knitting had a "Medallion Top" that looked perfect. I began swatching, but gave up after five rows. This is what I produced –

Why did I give up? Well it was the row with the instruction to "purl in the back loop of the second yarnover" that did me in. To a proficient lace knitter, this sort of thing might be all in a day's work. What it brought to mind for me was those "Joy of Sex" books from the 70's. (You put that there and I'll put this here . . . and . . . oh, wait . . . that won't work.)

In search of something easier, I found this "Clementine Shawlette" in the Spring 2007 issue of Interweave Knits. Not only is it an easy stitch pattern, but those little tie things at the ends are the perfect swatch. I cast on the requisite 21 stitches and began knitting. After completing the little tie dingus, I still didn't have a good feel for the yarn, so I continued knitting. Do you see where this is going?

Yep. I finished the entire ball of yarn, which produced exactly half of a shawlette. That's okay, because this is one of those patterns where you knit two pieces and graft them together at the back. Here we see FirstHalf in a fetching pale puke green next to the tan/beige ball that will be SecondHalf. It's going to be a BiColor Clementine Shawlette.

I still don't know what I think of the yarn. As many on Ravelry have commented, it does have a lot of "stuff" in it. It doesn't actually feel like either wool or silk, more like a nice lightweight cotton. Once the knitting and the consequent rain of small bits is over, the resulting fabric looks good and has a pleasant nubby feel. The plan is to finish the shawlette, wash and block it, and then see how it looks and wears. And, of course, I am now eager to experiment with other wool/silk blends.


beverlyanne said...

I think silk yarn does tend to to feel cottony. I am still liking the texture and weight of Silky Wool, it's just not what you expect. It feels thinner than dk, but I think the nubby texture of the yarn brings it up to that weight. I got between 5 and 6 stitches to the inch in my swatches. The shawlette looks lovely

Marjorie said...

Silky wool does seem very different from most other yarns I've used (and I do tend to favor wool). I had a lot of trouble getting gauge on one of Elsebeth Lavold's sweaters, but on the lace piece you're knitting that shouldn't matter too much. Silky Wool stretches when blocked in the vertical direction.

If you want ideas for what to knit, have a look at Elsebeth Lavold's website ( You can look at all the different designs in her pattern books. And if you ever decide to knit one, there are errata posted.

SNOWBIRD said...

I will have to pull out my Spring 2007 Interweave Knits and look at the shawlette pattern. It looks great. Love all the socks on your blog. I have known one other person in my life that had handmade knee socks. That was a long time ago in school. Her socks and sweaters always matched. Loved the look.