There she is, that Ishbel. The shawl blocked out beautifully and post-blocking I only had it in the house for about an hour before sending it across the Atlantic to a friend who needs a big hug.
So, yes, I was very pleased with the finished object - it looks lovely, works out larger than you think and has an interesting Faroese-like shape - but I did not enjoy knitting it. Overall, I must have knitted this shawl twice over with all my tinkering and re-knitting - and, honestly, I would rather have spent that knitting time on something else because the project just wasn't interesting enough to warrant that amount of effort.
But Ishbel does make for a warm, knitted hug which is the really important bit.
Now I'm working on a different shawl and it is really interesting to note the differences between the two projects (and the two patterns).
I have been admiring Laminaria ever since I got bitten by the lace bug. It is an insanely beautiful shawl made out of complicated Estonian stitches I had never seen anywhere before. Instead of "knit", "yarn over" or "purl", the pattern tells you to knit "2-into-9" and "3-into-3". Furthermore, the pattern notes tells you it is a modular shawl, so you can shift the blocking blocks around. The designer has even posted a huge yardage chart, so you can track how much yarn you need for the sections (which is important if you decide to mix things up).
Thing is, I'm finding Laminaria an absolute joy to knit. So far it has even been a really straightforward knit: charts are crystal clear, the stitch definitions easy to understand and it works up very quickly. I cast on Monday night and I'm through the first three charts without with nary a hitch. Even the fabled Transition chart which has its own thread of heartbreak on Ravelry .. I got through it first time with no mistakes. What gives?
If Laminaria continues to be this much fun, I foresee a lot of 'em in my future.
However, one thing does have me worried. The yarn. I'm using a 1-ply kidmohair/merino which I bought in Denmark. Stunning shade of red. Plenty of yardage (I think). And in the middle of knitting the second chart, the yarn literally fell apart in my hands. I am not a tight knitter and I'm knitting the shawl at a loose gauge - and the ply just came apart as I was knitting. It has me worried about how it'll hold up to blocking, I tell you, and I'm also terrified about putting too much stress on it as I'm knitting (which those 3-into-9 stitches will invariably do).
Finally: Alpaca Punch? Alpaca Punch? Well, Other Half and I were talking about the perfect name for a Glaswegian yarn shop and there you have it. Wool, violence and a bad pun all rolled into one. That's very Glaswegian. I'm going to use the name for a pattern I'm going to write up (I've had a request, what can I say?) and hopefully that pun will stick to me like a big sticky stick.