Well, I have finally decided on my new project…a peacock shawl.
No, that’s not a new shawl design, it’s a theme…it will be a Faroese-type shawl, shaped like angel wings, with a peacock theme. (Here’s a photo of a very lovely Faroese shawl: http://www.nwkniterati.com/movabletype/archives/PinkTea/000476.html )
I plan to alter the design, though, to eliminate the rectangle in the center (which would disrupt the pattern). Instead I’ll knit it as a 2/3 or 3/4 circle shawl, with extensions towards the outside to give the upsweep of the “wings” (instead of an upside-down Pac-Man).
There will be three patterns in the shawl: the center part (next to the neck) will be green and gold “scale” feathers, like a peacock’s back feathers: http://www.gregfolkert.com/pics/wallpapers/animal/peacock_l.jpg (the part right next to the tail).
The middle part will be feathers radiating out from the “scale” feathers, fanning out like an eagle’s wing feathers. (Yes, I know this is unrealistic, but it gives more visual interest to the shawl, IMO–the wing feathers will pick up the “wing” shape of the shawl.)
The final part, of course, will be the peacock tail, with “eyes” radiating out from the center.
I’m still experimenting with yarns–at this point, I’m leaning towards either two-ply reeled silk or spun silk mixed with firestar (a glittery fiber)–possibly kid mohair or a lustrous finewool, but unlikely. But I have been spinning and dyeing sample yarns, and knitting sample swatches. I *just* finished a lovely two-ply spun silk yarn made with green tussah silk and gold-dyed firestar, which is very pretty–it comes out as green silk with glittery gold highlights, which is exactly what I’m looking for. (I was looking for something that would duplicate the look of the back feathers: http://www.plumesnfeathers.com/plumage.html )
I am also *considering* using real peacock back feathers for the top part of the shawl…I have a very cool book on Hawai’ian feather capes and feather leis, and have always wanted to try making a feather cape–but I will worry about that once I get it finished. I think it might look really cool, but it might also distract from the knitting; the peacock eyes are the “real” feature, after all.
I am also looking into incorporating real gold thread into the peacock eyes–either 32-34 gauge 22K gold wire, 50-micron gold fibers (from the semiconductor industry) “spun” and plied with reeled silk, or Japanese gold embroidery thread (which is 2% gold–gold foil wrapped around a silk thread). I think that will add some nice glitter to the peacock eyes. Again, I’ll worry about that when I get there.
I am also designing and redesigning several lace patterns for the shawl. The “base” pattern for the peacock eyes is Candle of Glory, from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns–turned upside down, it looks almost exactly like a peacock’s “eye”. However, the pattern is only about ten or fifteen stitches across, and since I’m knitting this shawl on size 1-2 needles (best guess–still swatching that as well), it makes for a peacock “eye” that’s maybe an inch across. Way too small. So I am working on enlarging it. Sounds easy, actually somewhat complicated.
I also don’t have patterns for the scale feathers or for the wing feathers yet; I plan to make those myself. Again, more swatching.
I have some novel ideas for handling increases on this shawl, but I’ll explain them in a separate post, which will also cover increases and decreases and shaping for knitting. (Separating the posts will make it easier for non-knitters to skip the technical bits.) Suffice it to say for the moment that I am inventing new variations on the traditional ways of “shaping” a round shawl, to avoid disrupting the peacock’s tail.
The book has been on hold for the last week or so, as I have had several serious job interviews and have spent much of my time either prepping for that or designing the peacock. I’m pretty close to the point where I can get back to work on it, though; I have one second-round interview today (nervous!) and once that’s done I can focus on the book once more.