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Archive for April 16th, 2010

Square Medallion Shawl

Posted by Avital Pinnick on April 16, 2010

I’ve started a new knitting project because I need some relatively mindless follow-the-pattern knitting that I can pick up when I don’t have time to set up an embroidery frame or other craft thing. It’s also a useful thing to take to meetings (“Why do you always knit in meetings?” “So I won’t stab anybody.”).

I found a cone of what I thought was oatmeal-coloured wool, probably for machine knitting. When I started the swatch, I realised that it was not wool but some cellulose fiber, probably linen. In order to confirm that it was linen and rule out shatnez. Shatnez is the fiber mixture of wool and linen that Jews are forbidden to wear. Please note: this does not mean that all plant/animal combos are forbidden; that is a common misconception. Also, the prohibition applies to clothing and not to, say, carpets or cushions because they do not come into contact with the body, although some stricter opinions say that its better not to have them.

Here are the results of the burn test. The yarn burned cleanly, with little ash, and its smoke smelled like paper or wood. The fiber has slubs and bits of plant matter, so I’m positive that it’s linen. It isn’t smooth enough to have been spun wet, so it’s a bit hairy. Spinning flax for a smooth thread is a very messy business because you have to keep your hands wet and you end up slopping water all over the place. That’s one of the reasons why flax is not one of my favourite fibers to spin, although I have done it (after cleaning my wheel very thoroughly before and after of the wool fibers). Flax spinning is also very hard on the hands, especially when dry-spun like this thread was, although it was obviously spun by a commercial mill.

Burn test of fiber

Here’s the swatch I started of the edging. I’ll post more about the pattern later when I have more time. The needles are 2mm (size 0), which seems right for this weight of thread. I started the swatch on the Aero coated needles below but later switched to Inox nickel-plated needles because the points are sharper, which makes it much easier to knit 2 or 3 stitches together.

Swatch for Orenburg shawl

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