This is a shawl salvaged from a pattern gone desperately, desperately wrong. We're talking "throw the unfinished project across the room and screech out loud" wrong. I'd started working this yarn in an Irish net stitch, which looks like a large series of interconnected X's with open areas in between.
Except I was working with yarn that was completely and utterly wrong for that stitch pattern, and I kept losing stitches without realizing it. By the time I'd worked up about nine inches' worth of shawl, I folded my work over and realized in horror that my knitting was getting smaller with every row.
I knew that I needed a shawl by birthdaybash weekend, and that I was running out of time. I resorted to one of the quickest and easiest openwork patterns known to knitters: k2tog, yarn over, repeat. Luckily, desperation made me knit fast.
I keep forgetting one of the adages of knitting: the more spectacular the yarn, the simpler your stitch pattern should be. As I worked on the new version of the shawl, I realized I had it right this time; the simplicity of the stitch let the yarn show through.
…and what luscious, yet maddening, yarn it is. I agree with the hordes of knitters that say that the sumptuously colored yarn made from 100% recycled sari silk threads (imagine an explosively fuzzy rainbow with the iridescence of silk) is the idiot savant of yarn. When it's good, it's brilliant: exquisite color, that burnished sheen only silk gives, amazing softness. When it's bad, though, it's everything that's bad about handspun yarn: massive changes in diameter (causing some areas to look thin and worn if it's bad), irregular and uneven color choices, varying quality of spin (ranging from almost unspun and very fluffy, to so tightly spun that the knitter must either manually un-spin it a bit or have very tight, crunchy feel to the garment), and occasional tiny twigs and leaves spun in with the silk.
So I took my time, picked out the few bad spots, un-spun the areas that were too tight, and kept an eye on the yarn and cut out any spots that were too thin for use.
I'd link to the yarn, which Brian was kind enough to pick up for me from ArtFibers in San Francisco a few months ago, but they have just recently changed their website over to this Flash monstrosity that I can't read, much less navigate. They call it "Sanskrit."
This shawl is technically my warmup; what I've got coming next is the most expensive yarn I've ever worked with, and I'll be making the shawl that I plan on wearing to more formal events with my Little Black Dress.
For now, though, the photos of the Birthday Shawl will have to do. Click on the photo for a larger version.