Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Substituting Yarn: The Wonder Woman Wrap in Shangri-La Yarn

The popularity of the Wonder Woman movie inspired one of this summer's most ubiquitous patterns: the Wonder Woman Wrap by Carrissa Browning, available for free on Ravelry. To create the Wonder Woman logo in shawl form, this clever design uses short row shaping rather than intarsia. We recently commissioned a sample for our booth, and it will make its debut this September 8-10 at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival.

The Wonder Woman Wrap, knit with our Shangri-La lace weight yarn.

The pattern is written for fingering weight yarn, but our Shangri-La yak & silk lace weight was just too perfect for this project: strength and beauty, just like Diana herself! 

When substituting any yarn into a pattern, it's important to make a gauge swatch first - in the case of this project, you will want to try a couple of different needle sizes to determine your overall gauge, and also to see which sort of fabric you produce with those sizes. Don't forget to wash your swatch in Allure, allowing it to dry before you measure your gauge.



The pattern is written for US 4 needles, so our sample knitter started there, getting 26 stitches in 4" of garter stitch, or 6.5 SPI (Stitches Per Inch, calculated by dividing the total number of stitches in your 4" swatch by 4 - this will come in handy later!).

The next gauge swatch was knit on US 3 needles, where our sample knitter got 23 stitches in 4" of garter stitch, or 5.75 SPI.

Here's where a bit of personal preference and just a little bit of math come into play: first, decide which swatch you like best. Do you prefer a closer knit fabric? Using larger needles with a lace weight yarn produces an airier fabric, so that needs to be taken into account when choosing your needle size for this project.


You may also calculate the finished wingspan of the shawl using the stitches per inch (SPI) from your gauge swatches to decide on what needle size to use. The pattern is written for two sizes using fingering weight yarn on US 4 needles, producing a finished wingspan of 60 inches for the smaller size and 86 inches for the larger size.

Here's how to calculate your finished shawl size based on your gauge swatch: take the final number of stitches for the top border before bind off (256 for the smaller size and 376 stitches for the larger size) and divide that by your SPI. Here are the finished sizes for both of our sample gauge swatches:

Small - 256 stsLarge - 376 sts
US 4 (6.5 SPI)39.3857.85
US 3 (5.75 SPI)44.5265.22

Based on the above chart, our sample knitter chose to use US 3 needles to make our sample shawl, and the resulting piece ended up being a little larger than projected based on the gauge swatch - after a good wet blocking in Allure, this shawl measured 76" inches wide!

Why the huge difference between the projected wingspan of 65.22 inches and the actual measurement of 76'? Quite simply, a smaller swatch won't behave the same way as your larger finished piece in the blocking process - there is a lot more weight to your shawl than the simple 4" square you knit for the swatch. Additionally, this shawl could be re-blocked to increase the height, which would bring the finished wingspan closer to what was projected. The blocking process allows for quite a bit of reshaping (hence, many patterns include "block to measurements" in their instructions).

But, as Stephanie Purl-McPhee says, swatching is still important to your process because it gives you a hint about what might happen in your knitting. In this case, it will help you make an educated guess on what needle size to use for your chosen yarn!

No yarn chicken here!

You needn't worry about running out of yarn if you were able to achieve a similar gauge to the above, because our sample used only 1 skein of each color (and our sample knitter had plenty left over, as you can see above!). Knitters desiring a denser fabric can try working with two strands of yarn held double; this will only require two skeins of Shangri-La per color.

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Shangri-La Wonder Woman Shawl
Finished Size: 76" wingspan, 13" height
Needles: US 3 Fixed Circular
Yarn: Shangri-La 50% Tibetan Yak/50% Mulberry Silk, 400 yards in 2 oz. -1 skein Ruby and 1 skein Gold (sample knitter had .8oz Ruby and .7oz Gold remaining).
Pattern: Knit Wonder Woman Wrap by Carissa Browning