When these photos were taken (Monday, August 22nd), I had just finished one repeat of the pattern, and had moved the shawlette onto a longer needle so that I could spread it out and see how it was going. The needle cable is very springy, with the shawl coiling and folding over here and there. It almost feels alive! I played with it a little, and was very amused (hence my title). Here's a first look, with it all nicely smoothed out:
As I think you can see, the extra "ray" of the shawl is beginning to create a "more than circular" shape (more on the "ray" idea below). I'm very anxious to get more repeats knit and block the shawl to see how well it fits. I definitely have hope that it's going to work!
As I've mentioned in the past, I am taking off directly from Myrna Stahman's Stahman's Shawls and Scarves, which is a fabulous book if you're at all interested in the Faroese Shawl shape. Traditional Faroese shawls are knit from the bottom up, and most are in garter stitch lace. Myrna wasn't thrilled with that limitation, and she worked out her own style of shawl using stockinette lace worked from the top down. (Btw, this book is still in print (in fact, it's in it's 3rd edition). It's self-published, but I've found it in yarn shops and in a number of online vendors, including Elann and Needle Arts Book Shop, both of which ship to the US and Canada (and probably other places too). For some reason, Amazon has only incredibly expensive copies listed. In other words, it may take a little effort, but you can find this book!
I knit my Elizabeth shawl from Myrna's instructions, and when I got interested in designing my own shawl, I carefully studied all of the shawls in the book to see how they are put together. So I am now using what I've been able to glean of Myrna's "template," if you will, and just taking off on my own with the lace patterning.
If you're familiar with Myrna's Faroese shaping, each shawl contains a back panel, and triangular left and right side panels. Each of the side panels has a "ray" (or dart) down the center where there is a line of diagonal increasing (much like a raglan shoulder line, but situated differently), so that the shawl gets bigger quickly to accommodate your shoulders. Thus the famous Faroese stay-on-your shoulders shaping. If I was doing a typical "Myrna-style" shawl in the Springtime pattern, my side panel would look like this:
(I hope these charts will give you an idea what I'm talking about. They are from captured screen shots in Microsoft Excel, the program I'm using to chart lace. To get them in this format, I had to view the charts at 25% of their actual size, so you can't see much about the chart itself except for its general structure.)
Recently there has been a lot of discussion on Ample-Knitters about attempts to adapt Faroese shawls for larger bodies. Myrna's advice is to increase the width of the back panel, which a number of us have now tried, and found helpful but not entirely successful. It is also possible to vary the depth of the "ray" for the side panels, and continue those increases further down (this is also important for different weights of yarn: in general, lighter weights have deeper darts, i.e. more vertical repeats in the "ray.")
At a summer meeting of Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp (see Schoolhouse Press), several ample-knitters and others were discussing this issue. After camp, Joan Schrouder reported on the discussion, writing that Meg and Lois Young, another talented lace and shawl designer, agreed that adding in a second or third 'ray' of increasing, if you're using what I call the shoulder 'dart' (vertical), described in Myrna Stahman's book on Faroese shawls, seems like it should work as the shoulder shaping is there, but less confined to one spot, so should should still fit a variety of bodies.
I remember staring at my email screen in delight, having an absolute lightbulb flash moment. Ah-hah! More rays! To wit:
So I've been knitting away with two rays on each side instead of one, and as I mentioned above, I think it's working. Here's a detail photo of one of the shoulders (note: this is approximately half the shawl, split at the center):
In the photo there are four double-leaf patterned diamonds. The one at the top of the photo is part of the back panel, and the other three are the three triangles shown in the chart above, with the "rays" running down between them. Hope that's clear!
My main concern is that in fact all these increases may be working too fast and the shawl may get unwieldy. I decided to have my "rays" be two vertical repeats of the shawl deep. If too much fabric has been created, I could just do one vertical repeat, which would also keep the side panel narrower. Like so:
I've had a very busy week, so I don't have more progress photos yet, but I have knit another repeat. I'm just at the point of closing off my "rays," and plan to knit another repeat, then take the shawl off the needles (on a thread) and see where I am. I did find another tiny problem with my chart (at the row where I finish the "rays") and ended up tinking two full rows of knitting, which is a laborious process (tink is knit spelled backwards, and means literally, unknitting).
All in all, I think doing a prototype was a really good idea, and I am just beside myself thrilled to be so far along with this project! I recently sent my blog url to my Mother (I always let her know when I'm making progress). She read the blog and sent me a note, signed "Lady in Waiting." *tee hee* (The shawl for which this is the prototype is for my Mother, for those just tuning in.)
Listening to: Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich, read by Lorelei King (I miss C.J. Critt reading this series.)