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WIP Wednesday: Liara-Rose

I said I’d be back to talk about my continuing lace adventures and here I am, with yet another complex lace shawl in my lap. I’ve talked before in multiple posts about how much I love lace, and it holds true; as I expand my knitting into a profession instead of just a hobby, it’s even more important to me to have one or three “selfish knitting” projects aside that I do just for my own pleasure… and the most pleasurable thing for me to knit, at least at this stage in my life, is shawl-sized sprawls of lace.

Plushy comfort knitting is one thing (like the bit you can see on my hands) but delicate lace is its own entire art.

This particular example of that class is yet another new challenge for me. Liara-Rose is the very first circular shawl I’ve cast on. Circular shawls involve an entirely different construction method – unlike the triangle shawls in our Etsy store, or the crescent shawl shapes of some of my previous shawl posts, I cast this on in the center of the finished object instead of on one edge. The knitting spirals outward from a bare nine stitches to a finished circumference (before the knit-on edging) of 576 stitches. The pattern-writer’s test shawl blocked to be 42 inches in diameter, but since I’m using a slightly heavier yarn and correspondingly larger needles, I’m expecting this to end up notably wider.

Why use heavier yarn and needles? I’m still working around chronic pain and repetitive stress injuries in my hands. Knitting has been the best physical therapy for my problems so far, but I still have to be careful – maybe someday I’ll be recovered enough to knit tiny, delicate, ‘wedding-ring lace’ shawls, but for now, I’ll keep leveling up my skills with needles of a size I can comfortably grip.

US size 6 needles, or the size I’m holding here, is still the smallest I can comfortably knit with for any length of time. As of a year ago, though, my comfort stopped at size 8, so I’ll probably keep gently expanding my range smaller as I increase finger strength and stretch old injuries. 

Regardless of it’s slightly oversized nature, I’m still deeply in love with this project so far. Circular shawl construction is turning out to be a blast, and I love the way the pattern is slowly blooming outward along my needles. I chose this pattern in particular for my first circular shawl partly because it seemed sensibly written and aesthetically pleasing, but also partly because the pattern itself is named after one of my favorite video game characters; I chose the yarn for similar reasons (although it’s not necessarily obvious from just the one listing, Alpaca Cloud colorways have a fairly obvious Jane Austen theme to them when read as a group.) With one of my favorite literary characters and one of my favorite video game romances referenced, I get a little (perhaps silly) sentimentality added to an already unique project.

The yarn is also a new experience! I’d never worked with alpaca fiber before, but I wanted to try something different, and winter luxury yarn sales are a definite weakness of mine. I’m finding this loosely spun fiber pleasantly soft, and so far the circle of shawl finished is quite warm. All the “loft,” or loose air-filled structure of the fabric, traps heat quite well for being extremely lightweight.

And a warm lapful of lofty alpaca fiber is perfect – even on unseasonably warm days like this, the shade and the breeze can get chilly when you’re holding still and knitting!

It’ll still be a ways to go, but hopefully I can be modeling this shawl (knit-on edging, beads, and all) by this autumn at the latest. Until then, I’ll definitely enjoy some stolen minutes of “selfish knitting” on this project as often as I dare!