Well folks, this is it. Tonight after my tap class I shall block out the Spider Queen shawl, and we shall see if it will live up to it's potential or if it will become a disaster of epic proportions.
Never in my knitting life have I been so nervous about a finished project.
You might remember that this particular shawl has been plagued from the beginning with a series of frustrating problems.
Primarily, the yarn (Thistledown singles from Blackberry Woolen Mill, purchased with the pattern as a kit) proved to be highly problematic. In a nutshell - while the first skein knitted up like a dream, I ran into crazy problems with the yarn snapping and breaking when I got into the second skein. I've worked with laceweight singles before, and I've worked with finer yarns before as well. NEVER, have I had yarn fall apart so easily. When I contacted Blackberry Woolen Mill about the problem, they first wanted to blame me for moths in my stash. After I assured them that I had ordered the yarn less than a month prior to my email, and had started knitting it immediately without it ever having been with the rest of the yarn (and oh, by the way, I am a very experienced lace knitter who knows what she's doing) they replaced one skein. The new skein was mostly fine...but by this time I'd lost confidence in the integrity of the yarn. Even worse, I should have frogged the 10ish rows of that bad skein that got left in the shawl, but I was so frustrated with the days and days already lost to the breaking problem that I left them in. I sincerely regret that now. Towards the end of the edging, I ran into another weak section of yarn, further eroding my confidence.
Beyond that, there were problems with the pattern - some of which I was able to fix - others, not so much.
The fixes included doing the wide outer border in the round and altering the edging so that it was knit on. Those two things effectively eliminated the need for ugly and difficult and completely unnecessary seams.
The thing I could fix was that the outer border had increases on every single round, instead of every other round as is usual. The result of that is that there is a lot of extra fabric in the corners. (You can see this in the picture below. In an ordinary square shawl, that corner would lie flat as a nice, square corner.) Even a non-knitting friend of mine noticed that problem when I showed her the shawl a few days ago. "Are the corners supposed to look like that?" she said. I sighed. Sadly, the only way to keep the integrity of the lace design was to keep the weird increases.
And, drat it, there was a snap in the border that I had to patch before I threw it in to be blocked. I am ordinarily quite good at fixing mistakes and problems...but given everything else this piece has been through, I'm feeling queasy over the patch job I did.
So yes...blocking it tonight could possibly be a disaster. In my worst moments I imagine the thing falling apart as soon as I lift it out of the bath....or snapping into a million pieces even with gentle blocking. At the very least, the corners are going to look funky because they won't block to the same gauge as the rest of the silly thing.
Here's hoping I'm completely wrong!