Happenstance Sparkles

Once again, my mother drafted me to work a project she didn’t feel ready to tackle. And so, once again, I found myself knitting a perfectly delightful little shawl with a yarn from the deepest reaches of Hell.

Happenstance in Tiara, being blocked.
Happenstance in Tiara, being blocked.

Okay, let’s be fair. Tiara by Hikoo has some very pretty colorways. Their purple (Color 074) is lovely, in fact, and from a distance, the sparkle is enticing. I will probably never be a big advocate of sparkly yarns, though, because beads and tinsel loose their glittery magic after about the third blister. Beyond the sparkle, I found the yarn (an odd combination of acrylic and nylon with just a hit on mohair and wool) to be greasy and prone to splitting…not a yarn I would pay $31/100g for, but then again…I’m not a fan of novelty yarns, so take my ranting with a grain of salt. But just to make this a compliment sandwich–the stitch definition is surprisingly good for a fuzzy novelty yarn, which makes for a prettier end product.

The finished shawl! Minus blocking, of course.
The finished shawl! Minus blocking, of course.

The shawl pattern, Happenstance from Sock-Yarn Shawls by Jen Lucas, was delightful. You start in on the lace chart right from the beginning, which I find makes it not only easier to keep track of how far I’ve come (without have to count half a shawl’s worth of stitches) and means no endless rows of stockinette, even if the constant lace does make the project a touch slower.

I squeaked in just under the wire on this one--this is all the yarn I had left.
I squeaked in just under the wire on this one–this is all the yarn I had left.

With three skeins of Tiara, I was able to add in an extra repeat of Chart A for a larger shawl–one consistent complaint I have about sock-yarn shawls is that they must all be modeled on teeny, tiny models, because they look a lot bigger in the pictures than they do in real life. The extra repeat gives the shawl a little oomph, size-wise, making it more useful in its intended purpose of keeping someone warm.

I’ve had some fun with both of the Jen Lucas shawls I’ve made–kudos to the designer for accurate charts and clear directions. Next up: designing my own little lace project. (DUH duh DUH…)

Shimmering Inflorescence

My mother recently drafted me to workup a shawl with some Blue Heron Rayon Metallic yarn she purchased. The pattern was “Inflorescence” from Sock-Yarn Shawls by Jen Lucas. While the pattern was a delight to knit, I found the project mostly to be an exercise in yarn design and the question of how you choose a yarn for a given project.

Rayon Metallic Lace Shawl
Unblocked “Inflorescence” Shawl in Rayon Metallic

Rayon was an interesting fiber to work with, but I do not understand who could possibly think it was a good idea to start putting splinterous torture devices called tinsel into something meant to rub endlessly against your fingers. Yes, it’s shiny. Yes, it sparkles under light. But the sparkle is just not worth the pain.

The other problem I had with the yarn is that the multitude of colors in short runs lends to a rather muddy appearance. The yarn and the shawl are fighting each other in this project instead of playing off of one another for the stun factor, which is a shame, because as a skein, this yarn was quite lovely.

So there’s the question: how do you look at a yarn on the shelf and decide what project will draw out its best qualities? And when you’re spinning and dyeing yarn for a specific project, how do you figure out what will serve it best? Any advice?