Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lady Eleanor: The Shawl So Nice I Had to Knit Her Twice!

Lady Eleanor, who is a bit camera shy

Dear Blog-

She's done! Finished! Finito! Lady Eleanor the Second is now an FO. I finished her fringe on Saturday and have been admiring her beauty ever since. Oh, Lady Eleanor, I have missed you so. I promise you won't be sold to a stranger the way your sister was.

LE2 detail

Of course, in typical Lynda fashion, I did make some changes to the pattern. Some of these were even intentional! For example, I slipped all my side-of-the-shawl edges so that it has a nice, neat edge, not the bumpy stockinette stitch edge that the pattern would give you as written. I also slipped all the back edges of my rectangles and triangles so that I would have a neat and easy edge to pick up the next tier rectangles from. And of course I knitted backwards on all WS rows, not wanting to flip the silly thing back and forth every 8 sts. Why the pattern writer didn't give knitters the benefit of the doubt and just do it that way - with a brief note on how to knit backwards (it really IS that easy) - I don't understand.

My not-so-intentional changes were to do with my gauge. Since I knitted LE1 just a year ago, apparently my gauge has tightened up just a tad. Instead of getting rectangles that measured 3.5" on the diagonal, I was getting 3" on the diagonal. And guess what smug, experienced knitter didn't think to check her gauge until she was a good way into the beast? So I ripped it out - which ain't easy with Silk Garden - cast on a few more rectangles worth of sts, and started over. Because I really did like the fabric that the tighter gauge was giving me. The only problem with that being that the tighter gauge would of course require more yarn to get enough length. Three more skeins, in fact. Which had to wait until we had some extra $.

It was definitely worth the wait, but not something I would like to be without again.

My LE knitting buddy Tia told me that she had seen several mentions of people having trouble making the knotted fringe work, so I thought I would put a tiny tutorial here on working a good knotted fringe.


Cutting fringe pieces

If you are at all in doubt about having enough yarn, but flexible a tad as to the length of your shawl (or don't mind buying more yarn if you need it the way I did), then I strongly advise you to cut your fringe first before starting the shawl. Above you see that I marked a spot that was 40" from the crack where the drop leaf on the left side of my table joins the main part of the table, and marked it with a piece of masking tape up near the ball winder. Then I wound a ball of the yarn onto the winder and left it on. From there it was so easy to just pull the end of the yarn, and the ball winder would do the unwinding part for me as I measured out each strand to the crack and then cut at the mark. I did cut about 10 - 15 extra strands so that I was sure to have a good selection of colors for each end of the shawl.

Fringe draped on chair, ready to add to shawl

Then I draped the cut pieces over the back of the chair next to me at the table, so that they are within easy reach, but not in the way of the fringing process. I also got a little anal and sorted them into small groups according to color, this way when I looked at what I had on the shawl already, I could say, Hmmm... time for a screaming green one, and was able to pick it out right away. Now time to get everything else ready to hand...

Ready to begin

I wanted to make a beaded fringe, so in addition to the obvious 'shawl and fringe' combo, I got out the beads I wanted to use and pulled a small pile of each off the string and set to one side. Now, a small crochet hook that is tiny enough to fit inside the bead hole. A second, larger crochet hook to add the fringe to the shawl. A pair of very sharp fabric scissors (somewhere offstage).

Lynda, you are thinking, why in God's name do you have your Christmas table cloth on the table when it is in the 90s outside? Well, I am sooo glad you asked. I think the real key to a good knotted fringe is to work on a gridded surface. I stumbled on this by accident, as LE1 was finished in the winter and this cloth just happened to be on the table at the time. This time around I was lazy and tried to use my plastic quilting grid, but she no work. The plastic was way too slippery and my shawl kept sliding around on it. That is not a good idea when you want everything to line up just so to make your fringe even.

Spear the bead on a small crochet hook

Now take your tiny crochet hook, and spear a bead. Fold one of your fringes in half, and use the hook part of the crochet hook to pull the yarn through the bead hole.

Pull center of fringe through bead

You can also think of it as getting the loop of the yarn firmly down into the hook, and pushing the bead down the shank of the hook and onto the yarn.

Pull beaded fringe piece through shawl edge

Use your larger crochet hook to pull the fringe down through the edge of the shawl, and then pass the fringe ends through the loop and tighten to the shawl. Tie an overhand knot just below the bead to keep it in place.

First row of knots...

Use your fingers to comb your fringe ends out straight before starting. This will make the knotting process much easier. To work your first row of knots, take the left leg of your first fringe piece on the right of the shawl, and together with the right leg from the adjoining fringe piece to the left, tie an overhand knot about 1 inch below the shawl edge. Continue in that way all the way across to the left edge of the shawl. I find it helps if I start by stabilizing each of the upper knots with a finger, and then as I tighten my new knot, I keep another finger on the yarn tails right in the spot where I want the new knot to end up. Using the grid of the plaid helps to space all the knots evenly and get them all in a straight line. I simply aim to put each knot in a row on the same line of the plaid, wherever I decide that should be. Work your next row of knots by working from left to right, and tying the new row of knots in the same manner. Just separate the two legs of your fringe, and tie each leg to it's next-door neighbor, lining all the knots up on a line in your plaid. Tweak to make sure that each leg is the same length from knot to knot, so that your left leg coming into a knot is not longer than the right leg coming into a knot, for example.

Finished Fringe ready to cut

Continue to work this way until all your rows of knots are completed. Now, comb the fringe ends out straight with your fingers, and look for the shortest fringe end. This is the length to which you will cut all of your fringe. Using a pair of really sharp fabric scissors helps to keep the fringe from pushing out of line as you cut, keeping the ends nice and even.

Fringe after cutting

I cut my fringe right on the strong white line of the plaid.

Fringe detail

Hope this is a help to someone out there, and I'll try to get back in a day or to to talk about what I have been working on during this last month since I was here. I know I also have a couple of questions I need to answer for comment-leavers

Off to make dinner-

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Anonymous Susan said...

Linda, you did a fabulous job on your LE2. It's beautiful! You do so well with the details, which I believe makes for a very professional looking finished item. Thanks for the tutorial on knotted fringe----love the plaid tablecloth idea. I've saved it for reference.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

Lady E - 2 looking beautiful in those colours.
Thanks for the step-by-step, it's very clear.

3:49 AM  
Blogger Art & Disorder said...


1:42 PM  
Anonymous AlisonH said...


7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've done several of these because I love the process. Well, and I guess that everyone who sees one wants one. I may try the beads on the next one. Very good explanation. It's just an inspiring project.

1:51 PM  

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