Steam & Gusto

You know those projects? Yeah, you know the ones. This was one of those projects. The steam and gusto I started with fizzled out as I spent more time on it. The rows become more and more of a slog.


There was a couple of reasons for this happening on this project:

1. I’m a broken record about knitting with our handspun yarns (or weaving, crocheting, whatever your choice) because this yarn was an awesome example of yarn I thought had turned out beautifully … and hadn’t. Yes, visually the Tumbled Stone is a gorgeous yarn but structurally, it wasn’t twist locked. This yarn was spun on 4:1 using my pancake whorl on my Matchless (see photos below, Norah’s head for comparison in size!). It is super slow and big. It worked beautifully on my jumbo flyer, which I was using at that time for the first time. For every treadle, which meant both of my feet had to depress to create one full revolution of the drive wheel, I would draft forward. In the moment, it was twist locked but with washing, even a bit of fulling and then knitting with the yarn, it wasn’t enough to keep some of the sections from drifting apart. In total, I think I had 5 sections drift apart.

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2. The knitting itself. It was a large shawl project and once I had started the stripping section, I just ran out of steam. It was difficult on my wrist to purl back all those stitches and the added need to keep my handle on the yarn gentle, strained it even more. The Bourbon, which I spun differently, was a pleasure and I was able to spin with my usual tension. In contrast, the Tumbled Stone needed a much gentler hand due to #1. Row after row that grow to be as long as this shawl becomes a slog no matter how you slice it and while I am a fast knitter, it is still a lot of knitting!


Some really positive things about this shawl is the softness. It is lovely against my neck in the Polwarth + Silk. I love the drape of the finished object. While I don’t think they are heavy enough to make too much of a difference, the beads are certainly a lovely touch. I ran out towards the end of the cast off but to the eye glancing at the shawl, you can’t tell that most are matte and some are glossy.


Pattern :: Daybreak by Stephen West

Yarn :: Handspun, SweetGeorgia Yarns Polwarth + Silk in Bourbon and Tumbled Stone, linked below

Needles :: 5.00mm 32” circulars

In hind sight, I would also change the cast off edge. I used a stretchy bind off that I have used on many many things – I actually use it on the cuff of my socks – but the stockinette stitch throughout the shawl and lack of lace doesn’t need a loose bind off. It would have been fine with a conventional bind off. Instead, the effect is a slightly ruffled edge that was difficult to block. I eventually abandoned trying to block it and took the iron to it. Yup, you read that right! I used a low setting (wool) and a cotton drape overtop. It worked like a hot damn. It also set the yarn, due to the heat, and I think it has made it slightly more structurally sound due to the singles I used. I was also really scared about the dark, saturated teal-blue bleeding into the Tumbled Stone since the yarn had bled when I had washed it after skeining it. The last thing I wanted to do was throw the whole thing into a soapy warm bath and send it for a swim!

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A few posts ago, I mentioned about showing the handspun yarn and the project next to each other to help visualize how yarns appear once knit up. I’ll do that again here. The handspun I used was spun back in the Spring of 2016. Both were Polwarth + Silk from SweetGeorgia Yarns here in Vancouver. I spun them both as singles and the project pages for both are here (Tumbled Stone) and here (Bourbon – please note that this is a discontinued colourway due to colour bleeding).

The only modification that I made, apart from casting off when I had run out of Bourbon rather than working the edging called for in the pattern, was to add beads to the last row and bind off edge. This was, as I mentioned above, more for weight than anything else and while I love the effect of beads, they aren’t super visible in this knit. They are more for function than anything! That said, to bead every stitch in the bind off, I used 36 grams of beads! A huge number!


Overall, this shawl is HUMONGOUS so I’m looking forward to wearing it more just due to its sheer size. You all know how much I love huge shawls! Next, I’m hoping to clear off my bobbins of all the languishing projects and spinning for Spinzilla – which is has started!

Have you spun structurally unstable yarn in the past then worked with it? What were your results? What did you learn?


Join the Conversation

  1. Mary Giger says:

    I’m wondering why there was a difference in the two yarns. I saw from the notes that you used two different spinning wheels but similar settings. Any idea why the Tumbled Stone was more fragile?

    1. The main reason is that for the Tumbled Stone, I used a different wheel, different ratio and it wasn’t enough twist.

      1. Mary Giger says:

        Lol. I guess I should have figured that but couldn’t see the obvious! it is a beautiful shawl at any rate! My hope is to knit something so beautiful with my homespun. Until then it’s back to the spinning wheel. 😀

        1. Thank you! The pancake whorl on my matchless is really different from my jumbo on the lendrum!

  2. I like your stripes. impressed you spun them yourself!

    1. Thank you!

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