Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Girasole is Finished

It's difficult to photograph Girasole because static pictures, with it spread out over a carpet or a chair, don't do it justice. The shawl looks best when it's moving - draped over a body, for example, or the washing line in the garden. I'm very pleased with it. I'm amazed that such a complicated item should be easier to knit than a plain jumper in stocking stitch. It was absolutely wonderful not having to worry about shaping or size. I loved knitting Girasole and I'm sorry it's finished. It took me two and a half weeks to knit (not counting the false starts which I spent another two weeks on.) The edging does take a long time, about 6 hours, I think, using English knitting because there are so few stitches (throwing not picking) but because I was expecting it to take ages, I relaxed and enjoyed it over three days. I watched two BBC Prom concerts and a documentary on the six degrees of separation (it's not an urban myth!) and then it was done. Lucy Neatby has a knitted cast off which is quicker and more rhythmic than the one I used to use, and that helped it flow.

I couldn't even begin to think about blocking a shawl of this size. Blocking wires cost about £20 (5 times more than the yarn!) and as for getting down on my hands and knees and pinning it out from the centre -there aren't enough pins in the universe, not to mention putting the front room out of action for a couple of days. In the end, I steamed it, just holding the iron over the wool, hardly touching it, and then smoothing it out with my hands, and that worked a treat. The acrylic edging doesn't block of course, and that's a shame. I squished the first section by getting it too hot and tugging it too hard. Wool is much more forgiving.

It's a shame that the pink yarn ran out. The grey wool is very similar in weight, so that worked well, but the green is a heavier acrylic and not so good a match. It's fine for a practise shawl though, and as our tent is green and grey, it will almost look as if I meant it. If you are thinking about knitting Girasole it might be a good idea to buy a little extra yarn, especially if you take a tension holiday and let the stitches hang loose. The last few rounds use up masses. Yarn from a cone might be good as well - no joins! Some places are better than others for joining in new yarn - the tips of the leaves, for example, because they are meant to be a little lump.

Next time? I will definitely knit this again, just for fun, either when I can afford 'real' yarn or if I come across a pile of bargain dark-coloured Aran. Next time I will knit on the tips of the needles (This time I let the tension do whatever it wanted!) and work on keeping the stitches even. I would use markers from the beginning - it takes so little time in comparison with going wrong! The only thing I think the designer left out was a little extra technique at the edging - I'd use a provisional cast on and graft the two edges together.

I'd go on a mad lace shawl knitting binge now, except for the fact that I wouldn't wear one unless I was at a pop festival or on the sofa with a cold! They are such lovely items, but so very, very unflattering. Maybe someone will have a christening? I wonder if my mum would be mortally offended if I made her a shawl? I wouldn't want to suggest she was an old lady! I do actually remember some women in Wales wearing shawls - as Brownies we had to visit an old people's home - they were draped in grey knitted ones. And some old women wore fabric ones over their heads. Very unattractive.

Despite all those negative association, I love the way Girasole turned out and I'd recommend it as a fun and easy circular shawl to knit.

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