Thursday, January 14, 2010

A cautionary tale

I'm not very good about swatching (understatement of the year). My last shawl of 2009 was Aestlight from Shetland Trader. Stated pattern gauge is 24 stitches/42 rows to 4" on a 4mm needle - but, and I quote, exact gauge is not crucial. The next time you see that phrase in a pattern, pause and reflect. Did I swatch? No. No fitting issues, why swatch?

I knit Aestlight in Sanguine Gryphon Little Traveller. I had one 560-yard skein, bought at Sock Summit last summer, in a beautiful green that reminds me of oxidized copper. No color name or number on the label. Aestlight is written for two sizes, and the larger requires 550 yards of yarn. You can see where this is going, right?

I cast on for the larger size with a 4mm needle and knitted merrily. About the time I began the sideways lace edging, I began to worry a bit about running out of yarn. At the halfway point of the edging, I realized I might be a gram or two short (thanks to my trusty gram scale). But I hoped for the best, and kept knitting anyway. What else was I going to do? Because of the way the shawl is constructed, I would have had to rip 50% of my work in order to switch back to a smaller size.

This is what I get for being cocky:

My finished shawl measures 68" wide instead of 52", and it's also 2" longer than the pattern dimension. My gauge was 16 stitches/4" instead of 24. I ran out of yarn with 11 edging rows to go. No hope of getting more, with no color name or number - so I headed for the yarn cupboard and pulled out half a dozen bits of green yarn in the right weight. Believe it or not, what you see above was the least jarring alternative.

I do love the finished product. Perfect size, nice drape at this gauge, and the color is gorgeous. No one has remarked on that funny-looking tail yet. I figure I'll just wear the shawl to Stitches West in February and wander around trying to find a better match.

1 comment:

  1. I think, unless you know it's there, the transition isn't too evident. Great job with the shawl!