Monday, 7 May 2012

A Labour of Love Part 1 - Tools

There were times when I didn’t think I was going to make it, but here I am with a beautiful finished shawl.  And I love it!  My Princess took me 1 year and 16 days to knit, but a further 2 weeks passed before I had grafted, blocked and woven in the ends, just 2 days before the wedding. I plan to do a series of blog posts now that I have finished, reflecting on some of the things I learned during this time and what I would take into consideration if I was ever to make another shawl like this.

Very early on, I realised that I was going to need specialist needles for this project.  I knit the edging border on 2mm metal straights, but I found these very slippery with the cashsilk.  I persevered, but once I reached the feathered border, I needed a circular.  I bought a cheap 2mm circular on ebay but I found that the stitches were catching in the join between the needle and the plastic.  It was so bad that I had to lift each stitch over the join and with 800 plus stitches on the needles, this was not practical.  

After some research, I found Fleegle and purchased one of her specially adapted bamboo circular needles.  The joins have been reset and coated with superglue and the points sharpened.  They also have holes in for those who wish to easily thread lifelines through their knitting and the bamboo made them 'grab' the yarn.  These needles were so much better to use and lasted me the whole of the border until I snapped one whilst travelling.  I bought a second one and managed to snap this too after only a few weeks!  (Again, it was my fault – these are very delicate needles.)  At this stage, it was too late to order another one as they come from the US, so I made do with the metal circular to knit the final edging as I did not need to move the stitches over the join.

In summary, make sure you have the right tools for the job before you start and take care of them!  They make the project much easier and quick-moving, but remember that needles at this gauge are fragile (though superglue does wonders!)  Part Two will follow in the next few days and will be on lifelines and keeping track.