A year ago I made a crochet lace shawl, using Exquisite Lace from the West Yorkshire Spinners. It’s a marvelous Falkland wool enriched with mulberry silk, and I’ve been looking for the right pattern to use another skein I’d bought last year, in light mint green. I’ve hesitated between many different shawls and scarves, but in the end I chose a Drops Design pattern called First Frost, because: 1) I liked it, 2) it required just under 800 metres which is exactly the length of 1 skein.
This pattern is rather simple – yes, it’s lace so it requires some attention and focus, but it’s also very repetitive so it’s easy to memorize each row after a brief check in the diagram. I’ve been knitting it while working (whenever I didn’t have to type), one row at a time, and it went much faster that it might seem. The yarn is very thin, but the needles used (3,5 mm) are larger than I’m using now for a fingering weight project, since lace looks better when it’s a little more loose and airy (after obligatory blocking of course!).
Speaking of blocking, it’s absolutely necessary – maybe even more than in crochet lacy projects – to open the lace up and really show the pattern. But this shawl is so large that I had to use the bed to block it, as no other flat surface was big enough! So at first I’d soaked it well and dried it on a rack dryer. When it was still a little dump, I stretched it and pinned it to the bed, adding some starch spray. I had to close the bedroom door to keep the cats outside, which of course made them spend the entire afternoon meowing at the door, because we always keep them open and they hate when anything changes.
I need to invest in a bigger foam mat, but most of all, in a spare room I guess 😉
This yarn is different from most other lace yarns I’ve ever used. It’s very soft and “puffy” or “airy” – when it’s not stretched it actually looks more like light fingering weight, but then after blocking it gets much thinner and like a proper lace weight. It seems to trap the air between the fibers and I think that’s what make the shawl actually warm despite being lacy and delicate. The crochet shawl from previous summer was in fact very useful in the winter months, and kept me warm even on cold days.
I have so many shawls and lace projects in my Ravelry queue, and I keep adding more. I found out that I enjoy lace knitting much more than colourwork, which is a surprise, because I haven’t been the biggest fan of lace in my wardrobe before I started crocheting and knitting. But these days I find myself more and more drawn to patterns with lacy details, and I’m planning to buy some cobweb, 1-ply lace yarn in the future to try something more challenging. I also have a book about Shetland lace knitting and while most of those shawls still seem too intimidating, I want to give them a try some day. So I think this project was a nice first step!