Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lacy Nothings

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.

Center

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.

Blueprint

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

Detail

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.

60 comments:

Anna-Liza said...

Wow.

Helen said...

Looks just like a fir cone to me, darling.

Mary said...

Franklin, it's beautiful and your neiphcew is a very lucky person to know that someone loves them that much.

Carol said...

Just when I think you can't get an ounce cuter, you do.

Well done, m'boy.

Hope you mailed your leetle brown square back....

Rete said...

It's simply beautiful. I do love to watch other people knit lace. I try, but it never turns out as nice as I'd like...

Laurel said...

What a lovely pattern. I've got to finish up some shawls and stoles so I can get a Shetland on the needles, what an inspirational piece. Now, if only it would get warm enough to wear a simple lace shawl without a wool coat.

Mary Lynn said...

very very lovely. Wow. Words escape me.

debsnm said...

I find that lace knitting brings out the sadist in me - as well as creative cussing and throwing of said lace across the room - or is that just me?

Brenda said...

Very lovely lace, and an entertaining post, as always.

Paul said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Bridget said...

It looks beautiful. And good for you for not saying anything hillbilly about West Virginia!

DianeS said...

To be even more difficult, Nebraska's state flower is the goldenrod. Looked a bit like unblocked lace to me.

Mel said...

Well, even Barbara Walker says that it's a variation on the fir cone, I believe, with the decreases just moved around a bit. It looks lovely. And having had the opportunity to fondle the yarn at Woolcott, I know it's divine. And expensive. :-)

Jess said...

Lovely!

knititch said...

and the lovely thing is that babies actually like their christening shawls. they will fondle them endlessly. and it is nice with all the symbolism. i like that a lot. did one in regia silk for my great nice and the girl has used it every day. so it is more than worth the effort.

Knitting Addict said...

:::::GASP:::::

It's totally STUNNING! I hope we will get to see the baby modeling it some time :)

Jeanne said...

It's going to be beautiful. Lucky baby.

Lynn said...

Clearly fir cones. Carry on.

maryann said...

Oh Franklin, that is breathtaking, as beautiful as the sentiments in your previous post. I had to peel my eyes off it to just to come here to comment!

susoolu said...

Well, Bridget's alphabet may not be at Interweave for much longer, now that you and Jean have been and gone and told - just can't keep a secret, can you.

But the shawl is coming along beautifully - and I can't wait to see what you do with the alphabet.

twig said...

Looks nice. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't that a squiggly drawing about knitting? Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

Dang; That is gorgeous! Kay

Sharon J said...

Gorgeous! No tame wills nor timid brains at your house!

Fredda said...

It's lovely. I just love it when you talk knitting!

Camille said...

Thank you and Susoolu very much! I've been wanting a lace alphabet! My (twin) sister recently got engaged and it's almost a certainty that she'll have twins (she's marrying a twin), meaning I'll have half the time for christening shawls for each baby. I think, design now, get materials soon, knit like the clappers just after they're born

Deborah C. said...

Franklin, it is lovely, and does indeed look like fir cones. Lucky baby to have such a wonderful uncle!

Debra said...

Just a wee bit of constructive criticism, dear.

I found section c's arrow to be a bit confusing. It should be plural, and the arrows should all point away from the central lace pattern-- not an around arrow to display how to knit a border (section D).

You're fabulous. Love reading your blog.

Knit on!

StarSpry said...

It looks beautiful! :)

jenfromRI said...

That looks lovely. I think my level of ambition would have to be quite a bit higher to tackle a shawl. Kudos!

Devonshire said...

That is beautiful work! I love your site and drawings of course!!!

Anonymous said...

What a gorgeous, well-thought out piece of knitting. As always you inspire me to expand my skills.
Paige

Carol in Oregon said...

Un tres beau chale, indeed! ('Scuse the lack of accents.) And don't you just love saying "Veuve Cliquot"?

Lucky me - I just discovered I already have the Piecework issue in question!

Cherice said...

Beautiful absolutely beautiful. Your niecphcew is lucky to have such a talented and loving uncle.

rhea_sun said...

Lucky baby! (beautiful job)

Childe said...

"... Sharon Miller in Heirloom Knitting ..."
EZ patterned it out for us in Knitting Workshop - this is the one I saw first.

Either way, you are making a wonderful job of it and I can't wait to see it blocked.

Aunt Kate said...

I have some "fir cone" lace on the needles right now, and yessir, it puckers -- looks like one of those mattresses made of egg-carton foam!

LesleyD said...

Yeah it's a fir cone. It looks beautiful so far. I've not attempted lace YET but it is on the horizon. I'm just now trying the whole sock thing out. I'm loving it so far. Knit on hun!!

Pamela said...

Next time I am born I would like you to be my uncle please.

YTT said...

Not only is your shawl gorgeous and your writing inimitable, but you have just conjured up in my mind a whole new subset of uses for my blocking wires. (Look away, mom, look away!)

PICAdrienne said...

Beautiful lace. Will you adopt me as your neice?

You are truly creating an heirloom.

Anonymous said...

Dear Franklin,
I just made it to your blog, via Yarn Harlot, who en route to Chicago mentioned you name.
I saw your picture and thought, well lookie here, there is a guy who looks like he knows a few things beside the knit and purl and Chicago. And I was right. I am immensely enjoying your blog.
Your knitting is O.K. but the lace work I admire. I am one of those "who don't get into the whole shawl thing". Not yet, anyway. Listen, on your drawing why is not the central panel the A? Would not that make more sense?
I will be reading from now on.
v.j. (I am not trying to be anonymous or hide my gender. I just don't like to use my Slavic names in USA. They get misspronounced!! I am a girl.)

MonicaPDX said...

Leaf, fir, pine cone - all flora, why worry? It looks gorgeous! I especially love the 3D effect of the diamonds. Ok, so they'll probably flatten some in severe blocking, but should still rise up-- Oh great, now I've got a Terry Pratchett reference in mind. *sigh* Anyway! Beautiful. It is to weep. May your fingers fly!

roggey said...

no surprise that it's beautiful work - can't wait to see the finished shawl...

Seanna Lea said...

Being from Maine, I've more often seen our state flower termed as the pine cone (or white pine cone or sometimes in a fit of huh? scotch pine cone). Not that it matters, because they look remarkably alike.

I, of course, just love crochet bondage. Yeah, crochet bondage!

sophanne said...

Completely delicately stunning...

john said...

Um....it's stunning, Franklin. Really.

Robert R. said...

Franklin, my oh my, how wonderful! And thank you so much for the both the technical and source information. You inspire me, Franklin, and I thank you for that! With gratitude & metta!

Marcy said...

Eugen Onegin Alert!!

Hello, Franklin, I just wanted to alert you that the Met is releasing HD re-broadcasts of its operas in select theatres around the country. Tomorrow they're doing Eugene Onegin at 1:30; you can find out more at

fathomevents.com

As I'm sure you know, the Lyric is doing Eugene Onegin, and I am so excited I am just about wetting my pants. I would love to meet you and Dolores before the show next spring, if you're planning on going to it.

You can find an email link on my blog.

Knitting Granny said...

Lovely, lovely.

Richard, DC said...

Question:
How do you turn the corner on the edging?
Comment: You don't actually have "stitches" on the selvedges so you pick up and knit, don't you. What is the proportion of stitches picked up to rows? 2 stitches for 3 rows?
I know you did not mean your description to a full recipe.
If it didn't have a religious significance I could admire your work, as it is, well.

David said...

Trying to read that made my head hurt.

Linda said...

You are performing an act of great love for the new baby and his/her parents.

knititch said...

i am sure you know but ms oberle has a fircone pattern in her folk shawls. it looks lovely, your shetland, and from now on you will have someone to knit for for the rest of your life. nieces and nephews what a lovely invention.

Kim said...

I was wondering if you could share your CafePress experience has been. I'm looking to open a store for a nonprofit that I volunteer for.

Fred said...

Franklin, could you drop me an e-mail as I've got a query about a couple of pieces on the cafepress site that they can't answer for me. Many thanks :)

Brooke said...

I've only blog-stalked once before, but now I think you're my hero! Amazing work my knitty friend!! I got the "shawl bug" at Stitches West a few months back and will soon take on my first "real" shawl.... I am now officially inspired...

=Tamar said...

I'm glad you put in that you are so busy; otherwise I'd worry about a perceived lack of postings. Knit on!

Carol said...

Oh my gawd you called BW out! I would think that's a Delores thing to do; please don't tell her I said that;) Your lacework is breathtaking.

Denice said...

You are a wonderful knitter, Dearheart, but also one heck of a yarn snob. "Icky pink acrylic" my arse!

escort said...

Thanks for your article, very useful information.