Monday, February 27, 2006

I Had a Much Better Time Than Bode Miller

On Friday night, without fanfare (except the one playing in my head) I finished my Orenberg Barbie Shawl and therefore my participation in the Knitting Olympics.

I was not one of the participants who picked a project as a speed challenge. After the ruana, I don't ever want to be the in the position of having to knit a large project on a tight schedule ever again, even if the result is satisfactory.

Instead, I went for learning a new technique as my challenge. Or rather, two of them.

The first was the creation of a shawl in the Orenberg manner, which differs greatly from the traditional Shetland in that it is knitted all in one piece from the lower borders to the top. There are no seams.

The second was the blocking of lace. I'd never done it, and trying it for the first time on a very small piece seemed the ideal way to get my feet (or rather, hands) wet.

Here's the finished bit o' lace unblocked and looking forlorn.



My intent was to block this using the method described in Gossamer Webs, which makes use of two pieces of nylon cord and far fewer pins than are normally required in lace blocking. However, after three tries, I gave it up. In practice, the description of blocking in the book was woefully sparse (which is surprising, given the thoroughness of the book as a whole), and the notes I took during my class with Galina Khmeleva didn't help.

So I wound up blocking according to the more common million-and-one pins method. Marilyn's advice to begin by shaping the inner square first was key. Once the center was firmly in place, pinning out the simple edging wasn't difficult at all.

I adjusted and re-adjusted the pins all around many times until I had it looking the way I felt it should look. Since the sample shawl is so small, instead of taking the featherbed off my mattress and so forth I just used a sofa cushion.



Sorry about the busy chintz. Mr. Ex picked it out and I have to live with it for the time being.

Once the pinning was done, I tipped the cushion upright on the floor and put a small fan in front of it, set on gentle/no heat. About two hours later, I unpinned it. I fully expected it to snap back into its original amoeboid shape.

But it didn't. It didn't!



The next day I pressed it into temporary service as an antimacassar on my reading chair. It won't stay there, as I'm just not a doily person. Old-fashioned in many ways I may be, but as none of my friends is given to dressing his hair with macassar oil, I don't see the need for this.



To sum up:

Pattern: Orenberg Sample Shawl from Gossamer Webs by Galina Khmeleva and Carol Noble

Changes: Added partial repeat of "bow tie" stitch pattern, plus two small strawberries, to center (pattern calls for plain garter stitch)

Yarn/Needles: Nature Spun sock yarn, colorway not noted; US 2 10" aluminum straight needles that belonged to my great-grandmother

Notes: Fun as all get-out to knit. If you have any inclination to try an Orenberg shawl or stole, do knit the sample shawl first. It will give you hands-on experience of the construction techniques. The Orenberg method of turning corners is ingenious and any knitter with a curiosity about process should try it. Ditto the extremely clever grafting technique that takes place at the very end of the shawl.

Also a fantastic way to introduce oneself to lace blocking. A small piece is easily encompassed by eye, hand, and mind, and allows one to get a feel for stretching and arranging without the palpitations that would probably accompany blocking a full-sized shawl with no prior experience.

Am I Glad I Did It: Hell yeah.

A Note About the Medal

I've sent the finished Olympics Gold Medal to Stephanie and am certain it will be available soon. There will be three versions: two sizes for Web display, and one for printing out.

56 comments:

IDoneeForgot said...

I'm not a knitter (I just read this blog for fun), but isn't it hard to knit with wet hands?

IDonneForgot said...

Oops. That name is suppposed to be IDonneForgot. A little sheep told me that Franklin is a big Donne fan, but I forgot everything I knew about him. (sorry, Franklin)

cosmo_dk said...

That is truly lovely.

I picked up the book this weekend, inspired by your blog, and will be trying this out this coming weekend.

Lucia said...

Great work! I myself did not finish -- got all done but the seaming, and then went to a Team Boston party yesterday and attempted to seam while talking to a ton of cool knitters. Um... no.

Can I be the "agony of defeat" guy from ABC's Wide World of Sports? I did get near the finish line before wiping out.

Sean said...

Ahhh, congratulations! Terrific job. You're right the Orenburg book is amazing! I, sadly am a sucker for doilies, but not at my house. I crocheted one for mom and she has it on her chair! LOL.

I really, really really want to knit an Orenburg shawl. Perhaps I'll wait for the NH Sheep and Wool festival to look for 3,500 yards of lace weight something terrific...giving it the proper consideration!

bluecanary said...

Franklin, it looks awesome! Very inspiring, and not at all like boiled ass (as Rabbitch would say). I am personally somewhat hesitant about garter lace, I just don't love garter stitch much at all. But your doily is great. Now on to bigger version, yes?

Too bad there is no bronze award -- I finished my sockapalooza socks, one of my sister's socks WITH REPAIRS and my dad's scarf. But sadly, did not finish all the projects I declared as my Olympic goal.

Diane said...

Terrific looking mini-shawl. I may have to rethink getting that book and trying one for myself.

Here's an idea for it...stitch it onto a plain, dark pillow cover to show it off. If it doesn't go with your house, save it for a Christmas gift. Same idea...mount it onto dark fabric & frame it or mount it under glass to make a tray. Lots of ideas for something that nice!

Tactless Wonder said...

It looks WAAAAYYYY too big for Barbie though! Maybe Cathy...

It does look rather smart on your chair. I crochet doilies...and give them away as soon as they're "tied off." My aunties seem to love them to death, can't get enough...

Congratualtions on meeting your goal. Lovely result.

Jon said...

Doilies and chintz! And don't forget the antimacassar. Oy, I haven't laughed so much in my life. Are you a gay man or a little old lady? LOL

We need to work on some slip covers for that chintz. {giggles}

Carol said...

Fabulous. Are you sure you don't want to send it to me so I can frame it and put it in my living room?

Rachel H said...

Frame That. Seriously. Great job, Franklin, and love hearing you had such a good time with it. My Olympic sweater is, well, mostly still wound in the balls it started as. Complete with ball bands. But it was a damn fun ride, so I'm happy anyway. Looking forward to seeing the gold medal you designed though!

CatBookMom said...

Just a tip about blocking: you can get interlocking foam blocks about an inch thick at Giraffe Toy Store or Tar-jay. There are alphabet blocks and plain ones - I got 4 plain ones, 2ft square. They are fabulous for blocking and take up very little space when not in use.

Your blog has become one of my daily reads, and I love your cartoon artistry.

Andrea Rusin said...

Would you just look at THAT? Fabulous!

My word verification is "eazy". Is the universe trying to tell me soemthing? ;)

Alyssa said...

Beautiful! I too did my first lace (and lace blocking) for the Knitting Olympics. I had heard that blocking lace was like magic - sure enough, it is! How satisfying to unpin it and have it stay in the lovely open style. Congratulations (and I can't wait to see the gold medal)!

Andrea Rusin said...

Oh, and I block on a piece of styrofoam house-insulation that's available cheaply at Lowe's and Menard's and places like that. I covered it with gingham, and use the little lines of the checks as plumb lines for blocking. It doesn't fold up nicely like a real blocking board, but it does fit under the bed.

Lee Ann said...

I'd say that's more of an Orenberg Barbie Cape. But hey, if I were Barbie, I'd wear it. Though you might have to bead and feather it first...you think chintz is tasteless? You ain't seen Barbie's wardrobe lately, have you...

Barbie does not deserve such complexity. Trust me.

Mel said...

It's lovely, and should Jeri Curl or maccassar oil ever come back into style you'll be all set! Love the chintz pillow. Exes are a bitch, aren't they?

Elemmaciltur said...

It's sooooo daaaaaaaaamn gorgeous!!!!

birdfarm said...

Looks great, Franklin, nice work! Congrats! It's such a great feeling to pick out a project, do it well, and see it finished to your satisfaction. Even non-knitters can relate to that.

It does look nice as an antimacassar--too bad you're "not a doily person." Even if nobody uses macassar anymore, there are certainly some heavy users of other products. Though I guess calling your creation an antidippitydo wouldn't really have the same ring.

Cynthia said...

9.95

Points off for not using your original blocking method.....

Bravo, that score is sure to put you ahead of the competition.

Jill Smith said...

Lovely, Franklin. Congrats to you. I finished my clapotis (say it with me... Knitting Trend Victim!) early due to the Presidents' Day holiday and a stomach bug.

Helen said...

Way to go and WOW.
Gorgeous wee shawl.

I'm inspired now. This is a problem, since I've already got two shawls on needles already.

I will try to restrain myself for a bit longer.

Marilyn said...

Bravissimo! You did a bang-up job on the knitting and the blocking.

I keep getting prouder and prouder of what you do. I'm planning on doing a tutorial for knitted lace that I'll put on my blog, so that might help you get over your Wedding Ring heebie-jeebies.

I'm sorry that you had so much trouble with the nylon cord method. It seems to me that it might be worth playing around with, though. In my spare time. Right.

You know, what you could do with the Barbie lace is frame it. I've seen that done with old lace and it's a nice way to display small pieces. Better up on the wall than on the back of a chair?

And I have a similar chintz fabric on my couch. That I chose. So I'm a fuckin' old lady. Bite me.

rachel said...

That shawl is inspiring! It has turned out really really well, I'm seriously thinking of adding the book to my wish list!

Sockbug said...

Although it looks lovely on the chair, I am really sorry Barbie didn't model it for us personally.

June said...

I tried blocking a long stole (~5 ft) with the cord method, and it most emphatically did not work. As I recall, it sagged in the middle and required just as many pins to hold the cord taut as I would have used opening up points on the border.

For large pieces, I prefer blocking wires - similar principle to the cord and uses fewer pins.

spudsayshi said...

That gives me hope. I'm about a third of the way through a full sized Orenburg shawl, and though it's given me much grist for blogging, it's also hard to remember that it'll end up being a really pretty thing sometime!

Blocking's freakin' amazing!

Brie said...

The lace came out great! (I've been waiting on the pictures of the blocked work.)

I don't have any ideas for you on how to use the doily. I tend to make coaster/doilies out of worsted and put them under some of my knickknacks so that they don't scratch the wood, (14" LEGO Yoda = heavy with sharp edges) but that doesn't seem like nice treatment for the Orenburg.

And my sofa, while not flower print like yours, is covered in a slipcover. If I had your sofa, uncovered, my nephews would treat it like a coloring book and recolor it.

Ann said...

Well, where to start??

The shawl is simply mahvelous!

I finished my goal (freakin' steeks) and went back for seconds and damned near pulled a Bode, but pulled it out :whew:

And I am here to tell you thatthe cord dressing does work, but I still want wires!

I cannot pronounce my verification word. I think it's Welsh.

Yvonne said...

OK you've twisted my arm - I see a piece of orenberg lace in my future!

Can't wait to step up to the podium for my medal on behalf of Team Wales

Jean said...

Franklin, I _told_ you blocking was fun, at least I hope I did. Your result is wonderful. Just wait 'till you try it full-size. Fireworks!

Love, Jean

Carrie said...

Love it! I must admit, it seemed a little dowdy pre-blocking. (Yes, I know, all lace looks bad pre-blocking, but I'm easily fooled, and surprised every time.)
I didn't manage to finish my Olympic socks, but I'm still working on Sock #2, and will finish it soon to wear this weekend. I just need some earth-shoe-sandal-type things to properly show them off.
Oh yeah, and my husband ordered me a little gifty - a Sheepy Chorusline knitting bag! Hooray!

David said...

I do like a little lacy something.

marie in florida said...

it's beautiful !! how big? can you believe it , i downloaded Mountain Stream but don't have a way to print it out...guess i'll have to sit in front of the p.c. and give it a go.

Nerdy Knitter said...

It's beautiful--congratulations on your Olympic achievement!

Rabbitch said...

That's lovely! Congratulations.

I went down in flames this Olympics, but I'm going to try again for 2010. Maybe Orenberg.

Maybe I'll just try new psychadelic drugs instead. Looks like it might be the same sort of experience. *g*

=Tamar said...

I'm not a shawl-wearing person, but the lure of a new technique is growing stronger. The sample shawl came out really nice.

Now to see how many words I have to type in.

Ann said...

Alas, I did not come close to finishing. But, had a blast, and eventually will finish my Estonian shawl.

Applause to Franklin!!! And I can send you a book on slip covers for that chintz.

FiberQat said...

Very nicely done, Franklin! Now you'll start looking at more lace patterns, because the dressing of the lace is just so darn addictive! If you can somehow get two 4' x 8' insulation boards home and cover them with gingham, you're set to block any shawl or lace table cloth. Blocking wires are very helpful if you can find them. I wound up finding mine in a tiny shop at the beach after looking in the other shops in Portland OR without success. Duffy

Yvonne said...

ohhhhhhhh, Franklin. That is amazingly awesome. I'm adding the Gossamer Webs book to my must-haves...and the lace to my must-try list. Thank you for sharing.

Ted said...

And of course there's the other book of Orenburg lace patterns "Gossamer Webs Design Collection" by Galina Khemleva. I worked the rectangular "scarf" (it's really a stole: w-a-y too big for a scarf) and it looks much better than the one photographed. (Slight differences only, but the difference is in the details.) The instructions were very good -- a few typos in the charts -- and if the instructions for the 2 other shawls in the book are as good, I'll enjoy making them as well.

Holly @Home said...

Phew scary moment..enjoying checking blogs related to Joe's what do I think I see an anti-macassar.My West-Indian granny has hideous faded 1970's orange ones .If you so much as move one she'll have a hand off..glad it isn't one .She is going back to Barbados to retire soom I sooooooooooo hope they go with her.Holly U.K

Faustus, M.D. said...

Congratulations. It's fabulous. Of course.

knittingnurse said...

Gorgeous, simply gorgeous.

Request???

Could you make a silver medal for those of us who finished knitting but didn't make the blocking or seaming, etc. . . ?????

Corbie said...

I am very much not-a-doily-person, too, but I found the other day that my wing chairs had left bits of fabric on the walls (they aren't supposed to be pushed back against the wall, but it's inevitable that someone sitting in the chair will push them back slightly when standing up).

So, I'm now contemplating the unthinkable -- making doilies. Or, actually, taking some of the linen from my fabric stash and hemming it with a knitted lace edging, which, I think, would look slightly less floofy.

Oh, well. The look will complement the gramophone.

I hear hell has had a slight dip in temperature...

Kat with a K said...

Oh, goodness. That book is on my "must find" list now...

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