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Pagoda Shawl

The long-awaited Pagoda Shawl is finally done!

Let’s recap the story.

At some point early this year, Pippi gifted me with some fiber in her Pagoda colourway. And of course, that prompts me to say, “Check out what Shannon did with that fiber also!” Here’s how mine spun up:

I spent a while pondering what to do with the yarn, which I liked quite a bit, and ultimately decided to do a triangular shawl of some sort. I’ve done tons and tons of triangles where I start at the bottom point and go up (well, I’ve done a few). This time I thought I’d see about a top-down one. Since I planned to improvise, I decided to go top-down, center-out, as well, essentially creating a mitered corner at the centerline of the triangle, improvising pattern sections as I went. Here’s the in-progress shot…

…showing my big dilemma: I realized I would run short of the yarn I’d spun before bringing one section of pattern to a visual conclusion. I looked around for anything I had on hand in the same fiber that would be similar in colour, and that wool looked like it would do it… but spun up, it just plain didn’t work:

So, I decided that I’d just dye some of the same fiber yellow and go with “punch up the contrast and make it looke like it was intentional.”

Now, if you look in that in progress photo, you probably can’t see the problem, so let me try to explain. I structured the shawl top-down and center-out, so the stripes of colour from the long colour repeats would be downward-pointing chevrons going around that mitered corner. But from a structural standpoint the colour didn’t matter to the knitting, and the lace pattern sections were also structured as chevrons which, as I was knitting, would come together in a point.

Except that the final one wasn’t going to come together in a point before I ran out of yarn. Vis this photo from the blocking process:

See the yellow-tipped triangle? That’s the pattern element which had to complete or I was going to hate this shawl.

Now, while I was working this shawl — since I completely lack any semblance of project monogamy — I decided to start Foggy, Foggy Dew, and incorporate some of my thoughts from Pagoda into it. So Pagoda also became a prototype for how I wanted to do some things in FFD.

One such thing is beads, which are regrettably very hard to see in any of these pictures, and arguably too small relative to the yarn in the shawl, and thus too subtle to photograph. Not bad in person though.

So right now you’re probably thinking — and rightfully — “Geeze, Abby, please take some less awful pictures and show the whole thing and don’t just give us the heinous blocking-on-a-giant-blue-towel shots!” And I hear you. I really do. But first…

This is a huge blue towel, probably 6 feet long. Were I a functioning domestic type I’d remember if it was a “bath blanket” or “bath sheet” or what. Huge! Anytime I’m blocking something like this, I crave some sort of 3-meter-square gridded thing I cant stick pins into, like one of those self-healing mats for rotary cutters but big enough to block on. And it would really need to be like 3 meters square. But since I don’t have one… well. I half-ass the blocking. I pinned out the top edge straight, the centerline straight at various points on the way, and then just eyeballed and roughed in the points.

I’d done a very loose crochet cast off, placing beads at what would become the blocked points on the edges. This made certain aspects of blocking very simple, and it was an absolute requirement that I do this and get it blocked before completing the FFD shawl, so I can have my final beaded cast-off decisions made in time (which is to say, by about tomorrow night).

Okay, okay, so the better photos! Once it was dry — and I had to work to keep the cats away, because Kaylee kept trying to take pins out with her teeth and Paimei wanted to roll up in the towel — I took it out to the deck where I wish it were nice and green and pretty like it would be if not for drought.

My better half was there watching as I spread it out and got set up. “You should move the dead flower,” he said. “I might,” I told him.

“I definitely would,” he said.

Yes, that dead flower.

It’s not dead. It’s just resting.

But seriously folks, that’s a geranium. Now, I’ve seen geraniums thrive in the dry season in the Andes. I’ve seen them thrive in California summer. Even I, black thumb though I have always possessed (to the chagrin of my plant-growing parents and sibling and grandparents and cousins and everyone), usually can’t kill a geranium. And okay, I guess this one isn’t quite dead, but all the same, I think it shows just how bad our weather has been.

That was July.

But anyway, even though I decided to leave the dead flower in at least one photo, specifically so I could blog about the weather thus, I did take a few other Pagoda shawl pics.

Now, one interesting thing to note about this — and it’ll be true for FFD also — is that while it seems, patternwise, as if it’s a pair of right triangles, with two 90-degree angles at the top center, it’s really not. This is because of a certain fudge factor with increases at the edges. The angles are slightly obtuse as a result. However, I wanted it to still look like the center was in square, and the chevrons were in square at a 45-degree angle to those, so… blocking! And the fudge factor in blocking came into play at the pointy edges, which aren’t exactly evenly spaced.

I tried to make it look as right as possible right by the point, though.

If I had it to do over again, I think I’d use larger beads. At least at the edges, if nothing else.

I do like how it came out…

and I wish I had a big enough window to take a backlit picture and show the stitch pattern more clearly.

I’m disappointed in the candlelight pattern section, which is the chevron I was trying to bring to a close. I love the pattern, but it doesn’t really work right in this context, I feel.

The catspaws and smiling diamonds came out great, though, and all in all, I really like the yellow border with beads only there.

But yeah… next time, larger beads with this size yarn.

I’ll be taking it to SOAR to put in the gallery, so maybe I can nab a few photos there.

19 thoughts on “Pagoda Shawl

  1. Holy wow — that’s beautiful! It looks like flames!

  2. oh wow that’s gorgeous!

  3. mmmmm love it 😀

  4. I use my 7′ triangle loom for blocking triangle shawls – works great!

    Very pretty – the colors are wonderful, but the lace is hard to see.

    I look forward to seeing it in person at SOAR.

  5. Wow, didn’t that turn out just beautiful!!!!! You are an inspiration. Truly

  6. That shawl came out freakin’ gorgeous. I need to get Symeon to make more of that just for ME!

  7. Abby, running out of handspun like that seems to be a special talent of mine. Such as trying to knit the center motif of the Rose of England Shawl (!!!!!!) I’m hoping to have enough of the Shetland/Shetland blend for a PI shawl, but I’m not holding my breath.

  8. To make a self-healing blocker go to the lumber store and get a 4 foot by 8 foot sheet of homasote (or two) This material is essentially really dense fiberboard that you can use with t-pins or aluminum head push pins over and over. I have used this for sewing and patternmaking tables and it’s really the best. Oh yeah, it’s also CHEAP! Gorgeous shawl too! Did you navajo-ply the yarn?

  9. WOW!
    So beautiful. Be careful when you wear it out. I hear there is a gang of thugs from Vermont lurking in your area. They are known to steal knitwear. Buncha crazies!


  10. FABULOUS!!

  11. Simply beautiful.

  12. Oh my gosh, I forgot the main premise of my post! That shawl is bloody GORGEOUS!!!!! You managed to pull off with the yellow yarn something I could never pull off in a million years (see above post). Congrats on finishing it and I cannot wait to see Foggy Foggy Dew completed as well.

  13. When you first mentioned the yellow, I was skeptical. But oh my! What an awesome transformation – it looks like a majestic freaking-fantastic moth. I love it.

    Sorry about the geranium.

  14. It’s stunning! I LOVE it. That’s one happy shawl.

  15. Beautiful shawl, Abby! Water the plant. It’ll come back and bloom, to thank you.

  16. The Pagoda Shawl is just lovely! I’m working my first lace – a smoke ring in a simple feather-&-Fan pattern – so I really appreciate more just how much work goes into a lace shawl. It’s beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Oh that is beautiful!

  18. Dude, just had to pop by and tell you how freakin’ stunning that shawl is in person. And to let you know that we’ll be making sure to set Denny up with the email thingy very, very soon and help her have fun with it.

    It was an enormous pleasure meeting and hanging out with you this weekend. The Fates were smiling on us when you were matched up as Denny’s roommate. Hope to see you again soon.

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