The Road to Solar Flare

Lindsay LewchukAnnouncements, Solar Flare MKAL 1 Comment

Solar Flare MKAL: The History
Aside: This blog featuring a non-Pi circular shawl is intentionally brought to you on this day 3.14.15 9:26:53 (the Pi Day of the 21st century – yep, it only happens once every 100 years)

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away (okay actually August, 2011 just outside Toronto, Ontario)…

me at the dunlap obersvatory
Hmm, look at that – the shirt, glow band, & pillions could have provided color inspiration! BTW, I have no idea who that interloper in the background of my picture is, thus the facial block.

I attended a lecture at the David Dunlap Observatory on Solar Flares. It was fascinating & I was enchanted.

is my nerd side showing
*is my nerd side showing?*

Little did I know that this would be an impetus behind the Solar Flare Circular Shawl. I was just beginning my knitting career – in fact working on writing my first pattern, Black Willow Cowl & Scarf. But the images from the enthralling lecture continued to glow in the little grey cells.

Hop onto the time machine with me to 2103…

blurred sketch
Sorry no hints… this is an MKAL after all 🙂

With my sketch created & the elements of the pattern in mind, the search was on for the perfect yarn!

Back into the time machine; set the dial to January, 2014…

The Unique Sheep Green Sheep organic cotton and bamboo yarn in Solar Flare color
The Unique Sheep kindly created this custom color for me & named it Solar Flare!!! (Yep, I feel special)

I came across a new (to me) organic cotton & bamboo yarn by The Unique Sheep – Green Sheep Cotton (51% organic cotton, 49% bamboo). It was perfect!! I submitted my proposal & a few months later the yarn arrived at my door.

The summer months were spent converting the inspired design into a functioning pattern. Remember all those frogging tweets with beads flying across the room? I am now an expert at frogging with beads (maybe the David Dunlap Observatory would like me to give a lecture on it). The trick is to put a blanket in your lap to catch them as you rip, rip, rip.

Puddles asleep on the floor
Massive frogging is so much better with the constant encouragement & support of Puddles, the Great Dane

After many months in the knitting lab, the design was just as I originally envisioned – a non-Pi circular shawl featuring simple lace, twisted stitches, and optional glass beads.

Non-Pi on Pi day – what’s that all about?

Non Pi symbol

The majority of circular shawls use a circular shawl increase formula known as the pi formula to achieve a flat circular shawl that doesn’t pucker or ruffle. I believe it originated with Elizabeth Zimmerman in 1987 in her Knitter’s Almanac book. The major thing to note is that it really has nothing to do with pi, but is the name she gave for the rules of increases to create a circular shawl. Basically the increases occur at double the increases of the previous round. So if you increase on then 2nd rnd, you then increase double on the 4th round, double the 4th on the 8th round, etc. Instead of following the mainstream and implementing the pi formula, I took a tributary & decided to figure out another way to create a flat non-puckering non-ruffling circular shawl. After much diagraming, I came up with my own formula for increases specific to the gauge of yarn & design I had in mind that resulted in what I call a “non-pi” circular shawl. So since Pi shawls don’t really deal with Pi, neither does my non-Pi shawl. Don’t worry I’m not jilting the day!

Final jump in the time machine, present day (Pi Day 2015)…

Solar Flare MKAL
So are you ready to cast on?

The tech edited & test knit pattern is ready to present to the world. Currently on pre-sale, the MKAL (mystery-knit-along) will run from the Spring Equinox (March 20, 2015) to Earth Day (April 22, 2015) (oh dear, my nerd side is shining again) with lots of fun planned! Check out the pattern page or Knit Eco Chic thread for all the details & join the solar launch. The sun is closer than you think!

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