This post’s title warrants its exclamation point. And perhaps some trumpet fanfare! The Lily of the Valley shawl is finally done, photographed, and ready to be shown to the world. According to the instructions, there are over 90,000 stitches in this gossamer web:


Pattern: Lily of the Valley by Galina Khmeleva, as published in Knitter’s magazine, Summer 2004
Yarn: 1.25 1000-yard skeins Just Our Yarn Wool Angora, no percentages of content given, item WA0905C10
Needles: size 5
Blocked size: huge (each edge is about 7 feet long)
Started 3/22/2007, grafted the border 8/19/2007, finally blocked 6/8/2008

I broke in my first pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles on this project. The 5-stitch nupps were easy-peasy with the sharp-tipped Addis, especially at the second repeat by which time I had learned to make the increase fairly loose.


Just Our Yarn no longer carries Wool Angora, at least not according to their website. It is very light and the angora content makes the shawl surprisingly warm. I really like that I picked a blue yarn for this one rather than the traditional natural sheep color, but the dye runs terrifically. When I washed the shawl the water was a very bright blue. The lightness is great, except I live in San Francisco, where it is windy a lot. Don’t know if I can actually wear this except maybe on the 2 days a year it’s still. I’m glad I got a shawl pin at Stitches West this past February to hold it in place.

It’s hard to photograph light shawls on the body in summer, with the wind blasting from the Pacific nearly daily, but here’s the blocking photo from a couple of weeks ago again so you can see the border properly:


So, why so long from start to finish? I started swatching Lily in Febuary 2007 but she didn’t get any blog mention until April 1 when I was finally a few inches into the first border strip. I don’t remember swatching taking that long, but by golly, it must have. By the end of May I was struggling with the weirdness at the end. I didn’t realize going into it that the triangular shape makes approximations necessary. From the pattern, verbatim: “Galina estimates that the diagonal should consist of approximately 30% more rows than the body.” The pattern dictates short rows at regular intervals but apparently Knitter’s went for an exactly mathematical 30%.

What happened is that when I was at the last little bit, the three charts were at different places in the pattern repeat with no hope of meeting up. I ended up ripping out and reknitting that little corner 3 or 4 times, then emailed Knitter’s to get their take on things (unfortunately the quick response was unhelpful, as their knitter ended up on completely different rows than I did on all 3 charts), then got out graph paper and tried to make a graceful exit to the whole thing. Lily sat crumpled for weeks at a time, then I’d get her out and fiddle with that last corner. In August I grafted the border as it was but left in my lifelines before the graft in the hope I could figure out the problem. In October I gave up and she sat in a heap on the corner of my desk until 3 weeks ago, when I felt I really had to get that pile of lace off my desk. I tucked in the dangling ends and put her in the water. I will have to turn a blind eye to that one corner. No one else will notice, of course.

Here is one of the two good corners, taken under my new and wonderful Ott-Lite:


Here’s a scary story for all lace knitters out there: Lily went with me to Sonoma two weeks ago and I slung her over my purse handles as Mr. MmmYarn and I walked to The General’s Daughter for dinner. When we got to the restaurant I noticed my purse handles were bare. Uh-oh. I asked Mr. MmmYarn to let the hostess know we were on time for our reservation as I dashed back out and along West Spain Street, looking for a crumpled heap on the sidewalk or in the street, hoping no one had decided she needed a new home. Two-thirds of the way back to our hotel, there she was, lying forlornly in front of a house. Whew! Mr. MmmYarn wasn’t too far behind me and we went back to our dinner. I wore my shawl pin when we walked back.

I found January One’s blog post today interesting, discussing the changes to blogs in general and to knitblogs especially as Ravelry has gotten more popular. In Mmm… Yarn I try to write mostly about knitting and spinning, leaving most personal stories out of the posts unless they are related to the craft. In this post, I count the paragraph above as knitting-related as Lily of the Valley was a key player. But for the most part, I use this as a tool to chronicle the technique details of projects and so far I don’t find Ravelry to be a substitute for that. I like putting my projects in Ravelry (find me there as mmmyarn1) because it brings together all the yarn and project information for easy reference. I especially like browsing other versions of projects I’m working on. But for sharing the details of my works in progress and finished items, and especially for patterns I made up on my own, I still prefer this blog, and usually a WIP or finished item will end up here before it ends up in Ravelry. I guess I mean to say I intend keep Mmm… Yarn around a while longer.

In other knitting news, no Sunday night desperation tonight as the blue slanting yarn over scarf isn’t done. It will take a few more bus rides to finish that one.