One of the Knitters Review correspondents suggested that I e mail the author, Cheryl Oberle, directly. I was very excited to get a reply recommending Berroco's Ultra Alpaca as a substitute. Following the pattern directions, I produced a deep red shawl that was a little smaller than the dimensions given in the pattern.
The Ultra Alpaca is very soft and cozy. It was a good suggestion; I would recommend using it. However, I wish my shawl had a little more body. The original yarn has a high mohair content, but the Knitters Review people recommended against a mohair blend. As I am partial to mohair and mohair blends, I am sorry that I listened to them, even though they meant totally well. I think there is a bit of prejudice against mohair out there in the knitting world. I am slightly tempted to knit this again, but that might fall into the category of 'will do if I live forever'. I have so many other projects in mind. And I prefer rectangular shawls to triangles, so do I really want another?
Another issue with this shawl is the blocking. Actually there are two issues. One is that the alpaca blend does not hold its shape firmly enough. The other is blocking wires. I don't have any. Thus the edges of the shawl are a little wavy. Before I wash it or block another shawl, I will get blocking wires or else use threads to hold the edges. Pins stuck directly onto the edge give poor results.
Last night I cast on for the Kimono Shawl:
Online, I bought what I thought was the specified yarn for this project: Henry's Attic Cascade Petite, a stocky lace weight of pure, shiny silk. It turns out that the yarn called for was Cascade, not Cascade Petite. I think Cascade must be closer to fingering weight or a little heavier. So in my recent stash enhancement excursion to Mosaic yarn studios I bought some Jagger Spun Zephyr, a lace weight silk and wool blend that is matte, not shiny. Putting the two together causes the yarn to be glinty, neither shiny nor matte. I guess that is ok.
As this is a shawl, I didn't worry too much about gauge, but just wanted to get in the neighborhood. So I am in the neighborhood with a #6 US needle rather than the #5 Cheryl used. For obvious reasons I like that this is not a teeny needle project. I am still working on the Bird Doo Klaralund which goes on #4 needles. Actually that is one #4 and one #3, #3 for the purl rows, a trick I recently picked up from the Interweave Knitting Daily newsletter for working on stockinette stitch. So I have enough slow paced work in hand without making the lace knit even slower.
This is a long introduction to what I really wanted to say today. That is, I love the Folk Shawls book. The projects that Cheryl presents are more or less practical. She doesn't direct you to use lace weight yarn to make a spider webby piece that you can't even feel that you are wearing. Her shawls seem like they would actually keep you warm, and most of them are in the repetitive geometric designs I like best rather than the Victorian style of going out from the center in an overall flowery design. That style is gorgeous to look at, but lost in the wearing. And, since I'm all about the product, many of her shawls are the rectangular shape that looks best on me.
Apart from the patterns, Folk Shawls includes a concise and valuable introduction that teaches lace knitting techniques such as how to cast on (all important in lace making) and gives tips like the one I am using to write each row on a separate index card and flip the cards to keep place in the pattern. I prefer words to charts.
There is also something subtly and indefinably beautiful about the book itself, especially the photos of the shawls as worn by the author. The picture of the Kimono Shawl (above) is especially toothsome to me. It has a physical and spiritual beauty at once. Pictured below is the shawl I want to make next after the Kimono. I also love the Bird's Nest Shawl. The one below is the Icelandic Feather and Fan Shawl, an earthy interpretation of a Victorian pattern knit in unspun wool.