The first weekend in November is always reserved for Pioneer Days in Barberville, a two day celebration of everything that is old time Florida. The Florida that was once home to sprawling cattle ranches, pineapple fields, and orange groves. We always go on a Saturday morning and get there right at 9:00 AM, just in time for the first batch of biscuits to come off the wood fire. My husband slathers his with home made apple butter and I always go for the country smoked ham.
Then we make our way to the old homesteads to admire the weavers, caners, lace makers, and listen to the sounds of the cracker cowboys snapping their whips.
This year I found a group of spinners on one of the front porches. In the background was a large rack of home spun wool of many breeds. What caught my eye was a small skein of teal blue. It turn out to be finely spun silk. I introduced myself to the spinner and told her that I really admired her work. At first she was cordial and then I showed her my knitting. Cordiality turned to mutual admiration and that we shared Ravelry. That was the magic that it took for her to sell me the precious hand-spun. I know that I didn't pay enough. It took a few months to find just the right project for this special lace weight.
After plenty of Ravelry browsing, I chose Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Shawl. It is the currently the number one lace weight shawl according to Ravelry's pattern browser with 1856 shawl on and off the needles and ready to knit in 2052 queues. After I blocked my shawl and gave it a test twirl around the garden, I can understand why.
As lace goes, this is an easy and a rapid knit. I used a US 3 Knit Picks nickel circular, 32" in length. The yarn was fairly easy to knit with. As it is a hand made yarn it was filled with lots uneven thickness. This was a something that made knitting the silk special. I imagined how the yarn must have been difficult to spin and how difficult it must be to maintain and even thickness. I love the way the colours stripe and close up the ply is also subtly different. This time I was successful in blocking points. Casting off as loosely as possible is the secret. I learned my lesson the hard way when I knit the Icarus Shawl and the points along the apex didn't point .
I am keeping this shawl for myself and plan to wear it at Pioneer Days this year. I just hope that Elayne will be spinning at her spot on the front porch.