Saturday, November 8, 2014

Maple Leaf Forever

(c) Natalia @ Elfmoda Maple Leaf Shawl
Last December Natalia @ Elfmoda released a stunning maple leaf shawl design. As a Canadian, I was entranced with the pattern, seeing as the maple leaf features prominently on our national flag.

I didn't really place the shawl high on my 'to knit' list until a chance remark by a friend at Rhinebeck. Rhinebeck is a cornucopia of beautiful shawls, yet my friend noted that no one seemed to have knit the Maple Leaf shawl as their Rhinebeck signature piece. "Maybe next year", she said.

That's when I got the idea to knit one for Rhinebeck next year. Later in the day, I happened to find a braid of Polwarth fiber in the perfect Fall colors. I snapped it up, with the idea to spin the fiber and knit the Maple Leaf shawl with it. I pictured a shawl that mimicked how real leaves turn from green to yellow to red. I had no idea about yardage, but I figured one 4 oz braid should be enough, even if I had to use singles or at most, 2 ply yarn.

After browsing the Ravelry project notes of finished shawls, I decided to take a chance and spin the fiber with a view to navajo plying it to preserve the color transitions. I'd recently spun a skein of 440ish yards of 3 ply out of a braid. And many of the project notes stated that they'd only used between 400 and 450 yards on smaller needles than the pattern called for.

So, I spun. And spun. And spun. It took about 2 weeks to spin and then ply the yarn. I was so eager to get it done so I could start knitting the shawl and see if it would turn out the way I envisioned it. (And frankly, if I'd have enough yarn!)

Once I got started on the shawl, it sped along quickly. The pattern is a clever collection of simple knit stitches, yarn overs and decreases. The color transitions are nicely preserved as you knit the main body of the leaf and then separately knit each point of the leaf. I started getting anxious about how much yarn I had left by the time I started working on the final (and center) three points of the leaf. And when I got down to the second last leaf I was down right nervous.

My ball of yarn was getting smaller and smaller. There are several small points, each of which require you to break the yarn and then join again to the main body. All that breaking of yarn and rejoining meant several inches of yarn getting 'lost' each time.

Finally, this morning I finished the shawl, with about 4 grams of yarn to spare! Whew! The shawl is blocking now. It's smaller than the pattern calls for, since I used smaller needles to ensure I didn't run out of yarn. But it's lovely! Just what I'd envisioned.

I'm hoping to find a way to display it as a piece of wall art. The trick will be keeping all those points in place!