Rainbow Swallowtail

Evelyn Clark’s Swallowtail Shawl, from Interweave Knits Autumn 2006. This example knitted in 4ply (fingering) weight yarn.

This shawl has a chequered history. It first began in the summer of 2007, when I was newly returned to knitting and wanted to brush up my lace on a quick and easy project, in something heavier than laceweight.

I saw an example of a rainbow shawl, using the Kauni 4ply and was immediately hooked.

Finished Object!
Finished Object!

Cast on Date:
Aug 12th, 2008

Cast on: Garter Stitch Tab

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark (Ravelry Page)

Yarn: Kauni Effektgarn 8/2, from Astrid’s Dutch Obsessions

Amount: 126g = approx 500 yards

Colour: EQ (Rainbow)

Needles: 6.0mm straights and Addi Circulars (120cm)

Stitches: Cast on 5, Cast  Off 323

Pattern Repeats: as given

Blocked: Yes

Finished Size: 62” w, 34” l, 45” along each wing

Cast Off: Lace

Cast Off Date: Jan 21st, 2009

Ravelry Project: Rainbow Swallowtail

Kauni Skein
Kauni Skein
Kauni Balls
Kauni Balls

Well, who would not be? Though I confess that my heart sank when I saw the yarn balled – it looked so dull.

(I wound my skein into four balls, all more or less evenly split by colour. The first ball began with a length of purple, the rest started on the red segment.)

This was my first outing with charts, by the way – and I found it a very odd way to work, being used to properly written out patterns.

The project went well, or so I thought, and it grew very quickly – but looked somewhat odd. I had knitted shawls before, but only tip-up, with a clear understanding of the increases and the way on which it was shaped. Trying to get my head around the centre-top, out-and-down construction was difficult. In fact, I adopted a wait-and-see approach, looking forward to the eventual surprise.

Day 1 yielded significant progress:

Day 1
Day 1

I was feeling much happier about the colours once I had seen the wonderful blending – and somehow they appeared brighter once they were laid out together.

At this stage I was already regretting the lack of a pair of longer needles. I was also, if truth be told, feeling a certain lack of challenge. My lace skills, I thought, were up to something more exciting. I was soon seduced into an affair with Knitspot and my Swallowtail was packed away for a nice snooze. But it preyed on my mind a bit…

Eventually, I took the thing out again. Around it’s first birthday in fact… and that was when I discovered that I had been knitting the thing incorrectly. I suppose that a whole year of knitting racier lace had given me a better understanding of charts and the very peculiar way that they often present the reverse row back to front…


So I frogged the thing and began again in August 2008. Once again, rapid progress ensued and an altogether prettier thing began to emerge:

Half Way (Day 3)
Half Way (Day 3) - NB lifelines and centre marker in evidence!

According to my Flickr notes, this was August 14th – and I noted the half way point then, having cast on the shawl on the 12th August.

This was the point at which I knew that my needles were not going to be of much use to me. Far too short. I was really struggling with the bulk. I had to put the thing to sleep for a while.

My longer needles were out on loan and the person who had borrowed them was still using them – she replaced them with new ones for me, and these got me going again. Unfortunately they were cheap bendy plastic needles and I was at the Lily of the Valley charts. Oh, my dears – the language! The nupps were a veritable hell. P5 tog, with blunt and bendy plastic needles? – what a horror. Needle length was still an issue as well – so I sent for some 6mm circulars and put the shawl back down for another nap.

I have no idea why the shawl did not come out again once the needles had arrived. I expect I was enthused with some other project at the time – but it may have been more to do with the thought of completing those *!@%!** nupps!

Finally the day came to rescue the shawl from the WIP pile and get it off my conscience. I could have kicked myself! There was only one set of nupps left to complete. I’d more than broken the back of it. If I had realised this before, I might have finished it off sooner.

Although this shawl has a long history, this version of it took only five active days of knitting; three for the first half, and two for the second, later half. It wasn’t always plain sailing, see here, but the knitting was easy enough really. The problems that I did have were all in the deep purple sections and clearly an issue of elderly glasses/poor lighting – plus the bendy-needle attempts on the nupps making for much harder work than was truly necessary.

It was relief to have it off the needles

Rainbow Swallowtaill Shawl, ready for blocking
Rainbow Swallowtaill Shawl, ready for blocking

but it looked very small indeed… even though I knew it would stretch a long way in the blocking.

Blocking was an interesting process. I used my Costco modular matting, on top of the kitchen table. There was barely enough room to block. That was one stretchy shawl! It certainly would have blocked out much further, given room in which to do so.

Blocking on my Costco mats, on the kitchen table. Insufficient space.
Blocking on my Costco mats, on the kitchen table. Insufficient space.

My first shawl-blocking exercise was a bit of a breeze – the “interesting” part was that I was able to enlist some husbandly assistance with the project. And with a good will, too!

I don’t have any wires (would dearly love to have some, should any fairy god-father be listening!) so I use a method of stringing crochet thread though the yarnovers and pegging them taut with map pins (I don’t have any blocking pins either…) It was all so much easier with two pairs of hands. I must pressgang invite assistance from Mr L more often.

Blocked to 62″, I wish it were a little larger. Overall, I’m very pleased with it. I am certain that errors exist.

I used around one third of the yarn – there would be plenty to make two more of these, or to do a larger one (if I can work out the maths.) Another, lacier, Swallowtail is in production. Being finer, it’s on nice pointy metal needles and I expect it to cause much less grief, particularly as it’s also in a lighter colour.

Design Note: I rewound the second ball of yarn to reverse the colour sequence at the end of the shawl.

An interesting point: I used the pattern as printed in Interweave Knits. I had issues with it, particularly as it was only charted, and also as stitch counts were only given for the end of each chart. This led to my spread-sheeting the pattern to get row counts – and causing problems for myself when I managed to get it wrong. In writing this post I have discovered that the pattern is available free from Evelyn Clark’s website as a PDF download. That version is far more clearly written and combines both written instructions and charts – with row counts being available. I am certain that, had I used that version of the pattern, life would have been far less fraught and this shawl would have come to fruition far sooner.

Pretty, isn’t it? Worth the wait and the trouble.


  1. January 23, 2009

    Wow! I keep seeing a few of these about and thinking how fabulous they look!

    • January 24, 2009

      and don’t they all look so very different, in their own way?

  2. January 23, 2009

    Gorgeous 🙂 What a difference blocking makes!

    • January 24, 2009

      Yes, it’s always a bit of a Cinderella job, isn’t it?

  3. January 23, 2009

    What a nice colorful shawl!
    I particularly like the colors changing near the border: it goes like backward to green instead of flowing to orange then yellow. Very nice.

    • January 24, 2009

      Thank you 🙂

      And I am very pleased that somebody noticed the colour change. I agonised for ages over that decision, before rewinding my second ball to get the inside out. I even involved Mr L in the decision. We both decided that reversing it would be nice.

      Welcome to the blog.

  4. jenny
    January 23, 2009

    that is so purty

  5. January 24, 2009

    absolutely gorgeous and I love the reversal of colours:)

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