Monday, 2 March 2009

Taming mohair

Every February I experience a severe creativity breakdown. From January 31st to March 1st - Collapse! Nothing! The ideas keep on popping out but I find it absolutely impossible to «teleport» them into real projects. No change this year! Zero!
Only this February was kind to me! It gave me no fruitful ideas but it did give me something else – something I've wanted for quite a long time!
A nice mohair shawl. I've got more than 2kg of mohair yarn at home and not a single mohair shawl? Why? I don't think I have a good answer to that question! Orenburg shawl, which I promised to myself at least a year ,is obviously such a sacred project that I'm almost scared to even start working on it. For now, I choose to continue dreaming about it and making thousands of sketches and swatches.
A nice triangular shawl was always the second option. I wanted to own one and to make one. Making it is a great opportunity to grasp the system of top-down triangular knitting; it's only one step away from designing my own shawl which is yet another thing I've wanted for quite a long time. But they need to be severely blocked and mohair can not be successfully blocked! Can it? Well, they say it does not respond well to blocking!
Only, I'm soon to find out it is only one half of the truth. The half that is, actually, not at all important for my project!
Here's the thing- knitters often use blocking method to adjust the size of their (finished) projects; when exposed to steam or water, some fibre types stretch (and keep the shape after the process is finished) and increase the overall size of the project. The results are not always the same of course . How much the work will actually stretch will depend on the inherent stretchiness or elongation of the thread treated which is generally determined by the fibre type. And, scientifically, this is where mohair says :”No knitter ain’t going to stretch mi thread!”. :)))Mohair blends with 30% + other natural fibres are more promising but with my yarn being 65% mohair and 25% acrylic the situation looked pretty hopeless. Well, at least as far as the first half of the truth is concerned! But that is only one half!
The second and newly discovered half says that - while the thread itself can not be stretched (I don’t need it to stretch after all), the work will stretch all right! Now, that I do need! I need it to present itself in its original size! If you have ever worked with mohair yarn than you have probably noticed that it looks somewhat wrinkled and shrunken when finished! It can be hard to determine its real size. And, if you have ever seen a triangular scarf :)))) than you have probably noticed that - it is flat! Like a pancake! Well, blocking can mend that! It is now official!

I opened the just to take another look at Luna Moth shawl designed by Shui Kuen Kozinski. I’ve been in love with this shawl ever since I fist saw it! It is absolutely gorgeous! But, accidentally, I clicked on the “wrong” link and, instead of that lovely “Luna Moth” in grass green I expected to see - the pattern page for Mohair version of “Luna Moth” opened! There it was! Snow white, all hairy and soft, lovely mohair triangular shawl in all its glory. And it looked VERY much blocked! The yarn used- mohair/nylon blend! So, than it works. But to start a project like this one without being sure you will actually get the result you’re hoping for would be a very stupid idea! Finally, HOW should I block it to make it look like the one from the picture!? There was only one person to ask- Shui Kuen.. So, I dropped her a note and in no time, her answer made me a very happy knitter/future owner of a triangular MOHAIR Luna moth shawl (and all that in February). It was wet blocked! And successfully too! She also gave me some great suggestions on how to shape it. Quote: “A well-proportioned shawl should have a ratio of 2:1 (width: height). The angle of the tip is 90 degrees (right angle). If the angle is less than 90 degrees, it will look long at the back but not wide enough.“ – keep that in mind, will you?! :) I don’t think I’d pay any attention to that if it weren’t for her inputs!

Lovely, so,


I CO my first stitches.

Following the instructions written by someone else came as a huge relief. I only had to adjust decreases to my Eastern knitting style - it took me about a second to do that! :D No additional calculations, no thinking, no need to try it on, no thinking, no modifying, no thinking... I even decided I'd follow the written instructions and use slide markers(doing things I have never done before!:) )...I looked like a real school girl. Oh, but, no thinking also means lots and lots of tinking! :( Having someone else do all that math and chart drawing for you can really send your brain cells on a long vacation, can't it?! Which is not at all a problem if you like frogging mohair, frogging lace, frogging mohair lace, tinking 200-300 sts long lace mohair rows (all at once). I don't!
I had a huge fight with Mr.Row 49. I said some very bad things, too! But we're O.K. now! :)
That was it, my brain cells had been sunbathing for too long- I switched to the charted instructions and started controlling my work as I knit along, always checking the previous row. That's the only way to knit lace and avoid making (too many) mistakes.
A top-down triangular shawl is one TRICKY species! IT NEVER STOPS GROWING!!!! Three repeats in one day and then one repeat in 3 days! My brain cells say: "Add some beads." Almost invisible ones! Done!
Only one row! But a long one too! The rows are 300+ sts long at this point.
DAYS 5 and 6
Walk on the by the see...a very hansome waiter makes a picture of a palm tree in my macchiato foam...watering plants...finding out that some mimosas have already started blooming...(washing the floor, doing loundry, cooking and sleeping)...
No knitting! :)))
Late at night! Finished! O.K. now I'm REALLY excited!

I only had to attach the thread from a new skein twice but there are 7 knots on the WS of the work. Beads!!! Though it was an optimal combination of the thickness of the string and the size of the bead hole, sliding the beads up and down the thread many times causes it to break easily. While sliding along the string, the beads collect mohair hairs and form small tangled hairy clouds- the knots are the result of several unsuccessful attempts to untagle those.
I'll just have to weave them in!

But, like expected, it is all wrinkled!

It's bath time!

It looks so small! (And blurry! :) )
It's swimming!

Has it been 20 min? I think it has!!!

I rinsed it and than hanged it to check if all the excess water had come out. Still soaked!

So I spread it over a huge terry towel again and covered it with another, smaller one. Then I rolled them into a pancake. The European one, of course! With mohair shawl filling! :)))
Now it's cool and ready for blocking!

ALL STABBED with pins!
(Is it normal for a person to enjoy stabbing at a garment like I do?! I REALLY ENJOY doing it! I want to do it every day! I especially liked the sound of a pin going through the nylon layer inserted under the towel.)


I unpinned one corner! It's working!!!!!!!!!! But than I put the pin back to where it was- still not ready for this! :))))


My dream has come true! It's a stretched triangular mohair Luna moth shawl. With a scallop edge! A wearable one! And, oh, SO SOFT !


  1. I love your work! I just wanted to know what the length measurement of your finished product is? I'm working on this pattern too and I think yours is the perfect length.

  2. Hi, christie! I'll add some more pictures soon, it really is a lovely project!

    The size 3 days after the blocking pins have been removed (that should be the objective size as the threads have pulled the work towards the middle of the scarf and have caused it to "shrink" a bit which I knew was going to happen) is: 143cm (56") wide and 92cm high (36") (the heigth of the central rib). I'd say that the size has decreased since blocking for about 6-7% which is good given that it's an acrylic/mohair combination! I made 7 repeats (+ the inital and finishing steps).
    4,5mm needles and 2ply lace fingering yarn!

  3. Oh, and, as for the length of the shawl in the picture- bare in mind, I'm not tall! :))))

  4. OMG!!! Absolutely wonderful! Love it! And blocking does make a difference!

  5. Thanks, Drenka!

    And to you too, Trekky! ;-)

    Yes, drenka, no blocking, no good shawl, obviously! :-)

  6. I've said it on Ravelry, I'll say it again - that is a truly beautiful shawl. I can't believe it only took you 7 days to knit all that lace.

  7. Divan je šal, padam u iskušenje i ja da ga uradim.

  8. Padni i nemoj da se bojiš! :))
    Sad vam spremam još moćnije slike- navući ćete se 1/1! :)

  9. Wow .... huuuu.... ovo je predivno, ali ja ... ja .... ja nikad ne bih se usudila da pravim ovo ...
    Svaka, ali svaka cast.

  10. But to start a project like this one without being sure you will actually get the result you’re hoping for would be a very stupid idea! Finally, acrylic lace


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