Back in the Fall of 2010, I needed a travel-project for my trip to New York city. Never mind the fact that I had already knitted two simple garter-stitch shawls for myself, one chocolate brown, the other tulip-purple. I had more of that same heavenly Miss Babs' Yummy Superwash baby and sock wool stashed away since Stitches West: two skeins of a gorgeous red and one more skein of the Pewter colorway I had used for the ruffle of the purple shawl.
I cast on with the red wool while waiting to board my flight and zipped through most of the shawl during the trip and again once I was home. Then it was time to do the ruffle, at which point I got distracted. The holidays were coming closer, so was a deadline for the Afghans For Afghans Fall drive. So I switched gears and set my red shawl aside.
In late March, about to fly to New York again, I finally turned my attention to the red pile crumpled in my knitting basket. I also refreshed my memory about the technique that Kay Gardiner had used in order to create a soft ruffle in her own gorgeous versions of the shawl. It turns out that I hadn't done it correctly on my two previous shawls. Kay suggests purling, not knitting, the first row of the edging on the wrong side of the shawl, then proceeding to increase every other stitch on the return (knit) row. Her trick is meant to improve the neatness of the color-change, but I also found that it creates a wavier, more ruffly, for lack of a better word, ruffle, probably because the ruffle is created on a more compact stockinette "base" rather than a spread-out garter-stitch row. The difference is very slight, but if your preference is for a flatter, more contemporary look, I would skip that purl row and change colors and proceed with the increases on a front-side row instead.
In my twenties and thirties, I used to love black and red combinations. These days I find the contrast a bit too harsh, and I prefer dark grey to black. Miss Babs' hand-dyed solid wools are a pleasure to mix and match, and she offers more reds and warm colors than most hand-dyers, if strolling through the aisles of the market at Stitches West is any indication. Her red is beautifully saturated and stable. There was very little bleeding when I soaked the finished shawl in Eucalan before I blocked it.
My one commitment for 2011 was always to have something red on the needles. Not to worry, I cast on for something else that is also red and equally luscious the moment this one came off the drawing board.