Monday, September 3, 2012


My Echobellinaria shawl started out innocently enough as Melissa Lemmon's lovely Silver Bells and Cockleshells. I had a ball of handspun laceweight--1400 yards--and the requisite 1000 beads for the border and figured I would just mindlessly zone out through the tedious number of small motifs in the top section. It would, I told myself, be worth it to endure a bit of boredom because of that truly stunning border.

I cast on on with size 4 needles and knit the setup…realized that was too big a needle, switched to size 3, knit the setup…too big, cast on a with size 2. That looked nice, but after two repeats of the pattern, I tossed down the needles with a huge sigh. There was no way I was going to knit miles of those little diamond thingies and Harry had scuttled away after watching me play musical needles for an hour.

I perused my Ravelry Favorites, and decided to work a pretty little mashup composed of several patterns. I would knit some repeats of Laminaria, then some repeats of Echo Flowers, and finish up with the lovely border on Silver Bells. For the most part, the stitch counts in the three sections were perfectly compatible and required very little fudging to make it work.

My Post-It note, which detailed the concept, read:

Laminaria star chart and transition chart
Echo Flowers chart
Silver Bells and Cockleshells edging

I cast on with a size 2 and knit the Laminaria setup…hmm, too small a needle. Tried again on a size 3, and again on a size 4, and yet again on a size 5. That looks nice. By this time, my herd of knitting needles was cautiously edging away from me. You could hear them mumbling about people who couldn't make up their minds and piled up rejects without regard to order, decorum, or dignity.

Off we go. Knit the first repeat. Holy Merlin! That was the UGLIEST center stitch I have ever seen! Ripped it out and tried a few things for the center stitch…until I realized that a plain knit just continued the pattern and didn’t leave much of a backbone.

I figured five repeats would be enough, but it looked a bit mingy, so I knit two more repeats before proceeded onto the transition chart, and then the Echo Flowers pattern. Plenty of yarn left, so I did seven repeats of this pattern, too.

The Echo Flowers repeat is 12 stitches and the Silver Bells edging repeat is 24 stitches, but I had to flim-flam away 12 extra stitches to make the border pattern work out correctly. On the outer edge, I decreased away 3 stitches on the first row. At the center, I omitted the increases until the stitch count caught up to the pattern.

As I was blithely knitting away, popping on beads with abandon, I turned  to the final pattern page and noticed that there were a slew of 1 to 16 stitches increases on the last part of the border. The double set of crocheted loops was really going eat up the yarn, too. I needed to spin more yarn.  A lot more.

After I found some matching fiber, I eyeballed my diminishing bead supply. As I mentioned in my last blog post, every single tube of beads I own has a stock  number and supplier neatly printed on a small label...except the ones I was using. It took me two weeks to figure out where I had gotten them, then I called the store and had them send me two more tubes.

By the time I arrived at the truly lovely edging, my pretty little shawl had mutated into a blanket/car cover...I mean, I should have had some idea that things were getting out of hand when I used up the 1400 yards in the original ball about a third of the way into the border.

Be that as it may, the final piece measures 96" across the top and 54 inches deep...sufficient to keep any two people or a station wagon warm on a cold day.

The lovely color gradient isn't apparent when the shawl is lying flat, but you can see it in this photo:

 If I were going to knit it again (fat chance), I would go with five repeats each of Laminaria and Echo Flowers. It would still be a large undertaking, but I probably could have completed it with the original yarn and beads.