Today for a change we shall have no squiggly drawings about knitting, no parables about knitting, and no explanations of why this, my knitting blog, contains no knitting.
No, today we shall have knitting.
This, friends, is a close-up of the near-complete center square of the christening shawl, at present my sole project and constant companion.
The icky pink acrylic at the bottom is a provisional crochet cast-on, and it will not be part of the finished piece.
For those of you who don't get into the whole shawl thing, here's a brief overview of how this one will be constructed.
Beginning at the bottom of the square (A) I cast on the full number of stitches needed for the central panel. The panel is knit upwards to completion.
Next, the live stitches at the top of the square, the stitches on both sides of the square, and the stitches at the bottom (freed from their crochet bondage) are all picked up on one circular needle.
The borders (C) are then knit round and round and round, with double increases at each corner point every other row.
When the borders are complete, the edging (D) is begun near one corner and knit back and forth widthwise, with a k2tog joining the edging to the border at the end of each inward row.
When the edging has made a full circumnavigation, the begining and ending are grafted together (E) and you drink an entire bottle of Veuve Cliquot and lie down.
Then, to stretch the piece to its full dimensions and open up the lacework, the whole is blocked severely. I know that "severe" blocking sounds harsh, but il faut souffrir pour la beauté. It also appeals to one's sadistic proclivities, which one seldom mentions in one's blog because one's mother is a regular reader.
I invented none of the above method. It's a perfectly standard, modern way of working a shawl in the Shetland manner, as described by that lovely Sharon Miller in Heirloom Knitting. You'll notice there's no real cast-on or cast-off edge in the entire piece, which I'm thinking must make for an incredible amount of elasticity in the finished object.
We will now take a moment to bless the memory of those many, and mostly anonymous, Shetland knitters who figured all this out so we don't have to.
Two notes on some of the stitch patterns I'm using.
The alphabet, which you can see in the swatch I posted here, was designed by Bridget Rorem and can be found in Piecework, the May/June 1998 issue, which you can still buy here. I'm indebted to Jean's commenter Susoolu for finding that out so I didn't have to.
The pattern for the center panel
can be found in the first volume of Barbara Walker and she calls it (with an uncharacteristic lack of specificity) Leaf Lace/Fern Lace. Well and good. But this baby is going to be born in Maine, and Maine's state flower is (I kid you not) the fir cone. And to me, this looks like a fir cone, and it's my shawl, so as far as I'm concerned it is a fir cone. Hell, if even Barbara can't decide whether it's a fern or a leaf, I figure it's an open question. If you wanna fight about it, let's step outside.
There is, of course, a Shetland lace pattern actually called "fir cone," but I found knitting it to be supremely annoying (it puckers), the motif doesn't look much different from Leaf/Fern, and it lacks the lovely diamond grid created by the decreases in this pattern.
At least my sister isn't giving birth in West Virginia. West Virginia is a beautiful place, but I'd have to come up with my own pattern for the rhododendron and right now I don't even have time to walk to the dry cleaners. I tell you, sometimes I wonder how poor Margaret Stove doesn't run mad in the streets.