Sunday, March 14, 2010
I finished the wonderful Mara this weekend and I love it. Mara is a small shawl by Madeline Tosh. Originally designed for her worsted, I substituted the Swan's Island Worsted that I'm currently in love with, in Teal. The above photo is the accurate depiction of this colour - for some reason, the weak sunlight here washed out the deep teal tone in the other photos. Swan's Island is so soft and pleasant to knit with. It's the same yarn I used for my Mr. Woodhouse's Scarf and I have two skeins of a cherry blossom magenta red for a narrower version, and a skein of a deep true red in for a hat, and the same red in the fingering weight for a lace scarf, and a skein of natural grey and one of a deep coral in the worsted that are un-determined as to pattern. I would buy the whole of Swan's Island line of yarns if I could!
Let me just go on about Swan's Island yarn for a moment. This is 100% organic merino, which is why it's so soft, and it's spun in Maine and dyed with natural dyes like Indigo, cochineal, madder, weld, and other plant dyes. Originally used for special woven blankets (that are available form the company) it's now available to the public for knitting and weaving. It's very evenly spun, has a consistent soft twist and results in a predictable gauge and fabric, unlike some softer worsteds that turn out a little 'thick-and-thin' in their spinning. The softness in this yarn comes from the base yarn itself, not from having a loose spin.
When my LYS first started carrying Swan's Island yarn, I picked up these two skeins of teal without knowing what I wanted to do with them. I had a vague idea that this might be a good yarn to use in my quest to learn colourwork. But then I came across the Mara shawl, and there you are - my imagination was captured! Each skein is 250 yards, so I knew I would be short and went ahead anyway as is my usual practice. Improvisation is my creative friend. I didn't know if I would do the fluted edge in a complementary colour, or if I would change the needle size for a lighter, larger shawl, but I wasn't concerned.
As it turned out, I used the recommended needle - size US7 - and ended up with a two inch instead of a four inch flute on the outside edge. It's the perfect size for my shortness (5' 3"). The width is the same as described in pattern. I made other modifications, as you can see:
Instead of garter stitch, I used mostly stockinette with just a few decorative rows of garter near the neckline. I don't plan to block it (the pattern recommends light blocking) and am going to wear it today - a rainy, windy, icy day - for a little knitted comfort.