Monday, December 3, 2007

December WIP Updates Continued: La Vie de La Boheme Shawl

Other than my Stag Bag, the knit that's been taking up most of my time (though little of my energy) is the shawl I've named my "la vie de la boheme" shawl. Yes, the name is a bit of a RENT reference...just a little one!

Technically, this is my first shawl. It's a very simple pattern and not terribly exciting to knit, but it's a very good fit for the yarn. As always, there's a bit of a story behind it.

Last winter I went up to Massachusets to visit my family up there, and for part of the time I stayed with one of my aunts who knits. She told me she'd take me to her local yarn store (where she'd worked for a while, and where she was friends with the owner) because I wanted a project to work on while I was there. I said I was looking for a one skein project that wasn't too difficult. They had a number of one skein shawls on display, and I saw one I loved, but it was on the ball band of a yarn I didn't. (I wish I remember what yarn it was... oh well.) Then I came across the La Boheme in a lovely poppy color. This yarn is a vibrant red with some streaks of rich purple. Though the red was gorgeous it's the sort of color that wasn't usually my thing, but I had to have it. Yeah, there's a story behind that too.

Most of my fancy dress up clothes are all black. While I have no problem with this, it's true it doesn't make for the most interesting wardrobe. I'd recently directed a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, and I'd worn a black dress to opening. My assistant costume designer (who was also an assistant assistant stage manager and everything else) decided I'd look good with a red shawl she had, so she brought it and draped it on me and it made me feel glamorous. I decided I needed a red shawl of my own, and when I was in the yarn store looking at the la boheme, it was as if fate plopped my shawl in my hands.

I bought the yarn as well as a pattern the shop owner had made and the saleswoman assured me would make a lovely one skein shawl from the la boheme and headed back to my aunts house. During that visit I knitted and knitted and knitted and didn't seem to be getting much of anywhere. My aunt was suspicious about the pattern and asked me if I wanted to start over (at that time I'd never frogged anything I'd knit) but, when I said I didn't want to, she said she did trust the people at the yarn store.

Well, I finished knitting the skein, and my 'one skein shawl' was barely large enough to fit around my neck, let alone drape on my shoulders! I was pretty frustrated - La Boheme is a pricy yarn at around $30 a skein. It was a planned extravagance, but I didn't want to invest that much more money into it, especially since the yarn, though beautiful, was such a pain in the ass to work with.

Long story short, I bought two more skeins of yarn, had a terrible run one night that ended with me undoing all my work and restarting knitting it, and spent hours and hours on the shawl. No matter how much more I knit, the shawl still didn't seem to grow. I gave up on it and left it sitting in my yarn pile for a while.

Thanks to lovely wonderful Ravelry, this October I decided to remedy my shawl situation. I decided ultimately I wanted a triangular shawl, not a rectangular one like I'd been knitting. I wanted something that was made for one skein, though I'd use at least part of my second skein, and I wanted something that'd show off the yarn. La Boheme is a two strand yarn with one strand of rayon boucle and one strand of mohair. I liked the eyelet portion of the Evil Shawl, but I didn't want to get much fancier than that for the pattern, since I knew the yarn itself was going to attract a lot of attention. I came across this wonderful one skein shawl pattern and, after reading that La Boheme was another recommended yarn, knew it was fate! I frogged the Evil Shawl, and got ready to bring new life to my la boheme.

The pattern is amazing, and just the kind of pattern I'm ready for. It's a simple and mindless knit, but it has room for variation for future knittings with different yarn. I've been dreaming of all the lace shawls I've seen, but never having done lace didn't feel ready. This will look lacy where I want it to, and it's given me an appreciation for how many triangular shawls are knit.

I've been working on this when I don't have the attention span or the patience for my stag bag. It's been a quick knit, and I've already used up one skein. My seconds skein broke into two chunks when I'd frogged the Evil Shawl, so I've decided to use at least half of this skein. It's going to be very large, but that's what I was hoping for. Pleasantly, it looks like it's going to be a warm shawl too, so I should be able to wear it for practical as well as aesthetic purposes.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I find my camera, but, for now, back to knitting!

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