(or, how much abuse can cobweb-weight merino take?)
Back in 2004 I bought 2 hanks of Ornaghi Filati Merino Oro while in Bridgton, ME, on a vacation. For someone who hadn't worked with anything finer than fingering weight until then, just looking at the yarn was exhilarating. I wound it into balls soon after getting home and cast on for a shawl.
Two years later, this is how the "shawl" looks:
There have been, to put it mildly, a few mishaps. Shawl attempt #1 was the Lily of the Valley shawl from Knitter's Magazine's Summer 2004 issue. The m5/k5tog bobble combo was a bit irritating, but tolerable. However, it wasn't until I was about one third of the way through the shawl (summer 2005) that I finally noticed there were supposed to be short rows on the long side edging. So I said "Aaaaaaaaagh!", frogged the whole thing and decided to try something without the k5tog.
Attempt #2 was Galina Khmeleva's Medallion Square shawl from her Gossamer Webs Design Collection (yes, there is a trend here). Things went much better this time.
But there were doubts. I used the needle size suggested in the book but the shawl seemed a bit small, so I asked around and found out that Russian knitters tend to knit very loosely. The shawl sat neglected for several months while I agonized and considered turning the shawl into a baby blanket, but finally I decided the stitches just looked too tight, so last weekend I frogged it. The pattern is lovely though, so I think I'm going to redo it on needles a couple sizes larger. But oh, the poor yarn! Who knows how much more it will take before it decides to run off and join a spider colony or something.
The store, by the way, was Down Home and Company, on 150 Main Street. The day we stopped by, the owner had closed the store so she could tidy up after bringing her yarn back from the county fair, but she let us browse anyway. So if you haven't been there and you're in the area and (I hope!) the store is still open, please go in!
It's not completely symmetrical but it's pretty darned close.