The Knit Knack's Blog

Better living through fibre

Tibetan Clouds Shawl, Interpreted

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As they rode eastward along the water’s edge, they watched birds foraging and playing.  A few thin clouds were scudding in the pure blue sky and swooping birds united the heavens and the earth.

Sky Burial: an Epic Love Story of Tibet” by Xinran, p. 146

This Sivia Harding design, the “Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole” has drawn my lace knitting up a level.  No matter how many times, I saw the word “Experienced” on p. 173 of “The Knitter’s Book of Wool,” I kept leafing back to the chart, and thinking what really boil down to being covetous thoughts.  The best designs do that kind of self-promotion under your skin.  You have to, and the skills will come because you had to, right?  

The shawl is constructed from the middle with 4 triangular repeats around to form a lace counterpane.  In the design’s introduction we are told that the centre evokes the mandala motif of Tibetan Buddist art.  

 My stole includes the beads as written in the pattern but I used Japanese Toho size 8/0 seed beads for my finer laceweight yarn.  The centre beads are purple, and the wing panel beads are orange.  Instead of making purl bobbles at row 45 of that centre section (Chart A), I knitted in orange beads.  

The yarn is my handspun from a single braid of Yarn Hollow top.  Sivia Harding chose a worsted-spun fingering-weight yarn that is an even blend of merino and silk.  My yarn is lighter, and has slight halo from the 50% alpaca; 30% merino; 20% tussah silk.  

There was variation in my spinning.  How could there not be?  I made 979.6 yards over 6 skeins.  The singles were spun first, wound into plying balls, and plied together.  This part of the project – all on spindles – ran between May 1, 2012 and October 25, 2012.  

Fibre as it was in the 2012 Tour de Fleece

The method to my madness in spinning a 3,919 yards per pound large project is to isolate colour.  I unbraided a length at a time, and alternated spindles.  With an eye to the colour shifts, I was able to build shades from the dyed top.  The ochre sections have warmer tinges of pink, and vice versa through to my favourite mostly-solid purple at the centre of the shawl.  The little that barber-poled came up in either the panel transitions or on the edge.

The shawl is wider than I am tall.  With draping and a measure of chutzpah, I wore it to my cousin’s wedding last Saturday with a black dress.  It came into its own as the day cooled into a Boston September evening reception on a windy patio.  Others shivered, and the Cousin Who Knits did not.  

My philosophy is simple – if I am too shy to wear this at a formal wedding then what’s the point?  My knits are here to live in the real world.  The hours of making deserve that much.  As I tweeted:  Self-esteem, thy name is handspun knitted lace.  

You wrap a large stole thusly

This is my first knit made entirely from spindle-spun yarn.  It was an intentional project.  It went on my needles February 24, 2013 and was completed in early September 2013 with a few months’ break for other knitting.

A side panel, detail

The side panels of this stole were the difficult part for me.  The shifting of the lace felt like architecture, and took both focus and time.  I knit while listening to Neal Stephenson’s The Baroque Cycle on Audible.  Daniel Waterhouse had a hand in this too, I think.

Why I spin

 America Knits includes this Selma Miriam quote on p. 50.  I not only love it but her design the handspun, “Kousa Dogwood Shawl” inspired me towards both spinning, and lace counterpanes.  

When people ask about the time needed to produce a handmade object, it means that they do not see that it is the act of making it which provides the “grounding,” the stitch after stitch that are individual moments of possibility.

I sometimes get lost in the spinning of yarn.  There really is nothing quite like working with your own for-better-or-worse unique yarn.  Each skein was a new exploration in lace making, and the alpaca/merino/silk blend is just fantastic.

Author: iriegemini

Lara is originally from Jamaica, living in the Greater Toronto Area with N, and a cat, Melvin. She knits, spins, weaves, and is a chatterbox on all of the above. Lara's journey began as a young girl with her Grandmother's cross-stitch embroidery stash & blessing.

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