Friday, January 15, 2010

The Snow Queen

I would like to extend an invitation to all of you. I am about to begin my 2010 group project. I decided NOT to post charts on my blog for this project. It is too difficult to post high quality charts (especially large charts) here. I decided to start a special group (much like my 2009 Summer group) to host this project with some style. I WILL be posting project updates and techniques here, so even if you choose not to join in you can keep an eye on what we are doing. Added 1/20/10: The group is fully enrolled as of 1/20/10, so closed.

This project uses Elizabeth Zimmermann’s formula for a Pi shawl. She devotes a chapter of her book, Knitter’s Almanac, to this concept and I highly recommend reading it. A Pi shawl is a circle, started at the center. It is worked in tiers, with increase rows between each tier. The formula is very straightforward and anyone can design one by plugging in stitch patterns to the tiers that are divided by increase rounds. I made one Pi shawl, about 20 years ago. I used real Shetland 2-ply and with EZ’s book in hand I cast-on and added a few eyelets as I knit. I gave that shawl away and I have not been inspired to knit one since. There are a few gorgeous versions of Pi shawls available, and a quick search around the internet or on Ravelry will find them for you.

This piece was designed especially for my winter 2010 group project. My group projects are always based on what I feel like knitting. There are no yarn restraints. There are no yardage restraints. There are no limitation on how many pages I can spread out on. It can be as technically challenging as I want. It is in this setting of complete abandon that The Snow Queen project was gestated. EZ was brilliant, but I have never really loved the Pi construction. The concept is elegant but the reality was never quite that for me. I find the huge increase rows visually distracting and without grace. It is hard to get the pattern from one tier to line up with the pattern from the next tier. I did not want to do a stitch pattern sampler with unrelated patterns in each tier, although that would be a fun way to do a sampler. The design challenge for me was to make the tiers flow from one to the next and to incorporate the increase rounds into the design as much as possible.

I redesigned the charts for this project three times before moving forward, which is really unusual for my design process. That such a straightforward construction technique presents a significant challenge speaks to both the brilliance of Elizabeth Zimmermann and the potential of our craft. This design starts out as an argument between a simple Pi shawl and an Estonian shawl. There is a little cat fight between Charts B and C. In Chart C, one can clearly see that the Estonian Shawl has won the battle. Chart E, and F continue that trend, with some of the more traditional elements creeping back in during Chart F. I hope that you have as much fun knitting as I had designing.
This project uses some challenging techniques and is fully charted. There will not be line-by-line directions because there were this would not be ready to share until 2012. All are welcome until the group is full! Knit on...


  1. I have only knit one pi shawl, but that was enough for me to understand that challenge you faced. I am so looking forward to seeing how you transitioned from one section to another and managed the appropriate increases.
    Looking forward,
    Sue in CA

  2. Even if I wasn't already "in" I think that the teaser picture at the beginning would have hooked me! I can't wait to see how you move from section to section!!

  3. Do you plan to post yarn/bead requirements?
    When do you thing you will start the kal?


  4. Alison.
    You leave me no way to send you a reply, so this is the best that I can do. Yes, I will be posting info here, but the only way to participate is to join the group. Start date is very soon...

  5. I am really excited about Snow Queen. Having a love affair with all things Estonian and I'll learn how to knit a Pi shawl at the same time. It's a win-win! Thanks so much, Andrea

  6. Count me in! I am really trying to do some lace shawls.