Monday, April 02, 2007

Notes on Shawl Design

Now, as Miss Cleo was wont to say in her heyday, I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking,
"Cut the crap, child. We know perfectly well that the extended ruminations on literature and the squiggly cartoons and the guest appearances by your fictitious slutty sheep houseguest are mere smoke and mirrors intended to distract us from sad reality. You haven't been knitting anything interesting, have you? Have you?
To which I can only respond, in the words of (I believe) Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Neener neener neener."

Because I have been knitting my furry little fingers to bits. But since you had to get huffy, all you get to see for now is the swatch.

Snippet

This is the "final" swatch, in which the yarn, the needles, and the stitch patterns at last got together and danced in perfect lockstep around the living room while the orchestra played a spirited rendition of "You Got to See Your Mama Every Night (Or You Can't See Mama at All)."

We have here a laceweight cashmere/silk laceweight procured my homie in Boston, manipulated with size 1 Addi Turbos using stitch patterns collected by that nice Miss Walker, plus a lace alphabet to which I was introduced by one of the goddesses in my household pantheon.

As I will never have the pleasure of regaling a child of my own with stories of the labor pains he caused me, I instead look forward to forcing my niecephew to listen as I tell of how Uncle Franklin turned the world upside down and shook it so as to discover novel, seldom-seen lace patterns to put into this christening shawl.

As evidence I shall present a series of swatches which, laid end to end, would stretch all the way from Rhinebeck to Toronto and back again, except these days good luck getting customs officials at the border to cooperate. These swatches include motifs from the Estonian, Shetland, Orenberg, Asian, and Eastern European camps. They were begged from august lace knitting authorities, painstakingly recreated from fuzzy magazine illustrations, puzzled out of antique books and magazines.

And, ultimately, the winning patterns were taken from Barbara Walker, volume one, where they are located on facing pages directly opposite one another.

(But don't let that make you feel guilty. I did it out of love.)

And, as you will have guessed from the A-B-C, there will be a special message for the little kid worked into the finished piece. I'd like it to be a surprise for the parents on the Big Day, so I'll just share some of the options that were considered, then rejected:
  • WHERE DID YOU COME FROM, BABY DEAR?
  • WELCOME TO THE CLUB
  • GOD BLESS THE CHILD THAT'S GOT HIS OWN
  • PEE ON THIS SHAWL AND YOU WON'T GET ANOTHER PRESENT OUTTA ME UNTIL YOU'RE FORTY-SIX
  • BE THANKFUL THIS ISN'T A BRIS
  • DON'T WORRY, YOU CAN STILL BECOME A BUDDHIST LATER ON
That's my problem, you see. I just have so many good ideas, there could never be enough time to knit all of them.

53 comments:

Cathy R. said...

The swatch is absolutely beautiful! I look forward to seeing the finished product.

NeedleTart said...

Gorgeous lace! Have fun with it.

MonicaPDX said...

Wonderful swatch! And boy, I was having problems trying to figure out - even mentally - how to simultaneously go "awwwwwww", and laugh like a loon while reading. ;) Simply great on the prospective sayings to knit in. [g] You provoke the most interesting reactions, Franklin!

PS - Got your copy of Charlene Schurch's new sock book yet? Mine just arrived Saturday. Fantastic again!

Twilight said...

A lace alphabet? Wow!

Jean said...

Oh, Franklin!

Angie said...

I don't know if I love my own kids enough to knit them something as lovely! The alphabet is so cool

Knitting Magic Girl said...

The lace is wonderful! Frankly, I liked the "if you pee on this..." line the best, but I know you've got something better in store! Can't wait to see the whole thing!

Robert J. Rosa said...

Franklin - you inspire me! I love your blogs and your knitting. I hav the Walker books - but I'm not sure where the lace alphabet comes from. I've just strarted knitting lace so I would definately be interested in finding the alphabet paterns.

Many heartfelt thanks for the creative inspiration. You're amazing!

-Robert

Robert R. said...

Please forgive the typos in my last message. I entered the message without revising it - much to my dismay.

Eldronius said...

Oh how I long to have your wit and charm. *hugs*

Ann (yet another) said...

Well, if it's a square shawl, you could put the 4 noble truths there. I can just see how thrilled Sue would be with a shawl that said "Life is Suffering" on it - so be subtle. Dukkha, Samudaya, Nirodha, and Magga - and then put Love, Uncle Franklin.
Or, go all soppy and put Peace, Love, Hope, Charity;
Or just And the Greatest of These is Love.

nancyneverswept said...

And here I thought, upon seeing the swatch first, that you would just put the alphabet around, ala sampler! How limited a thinker I am! Your ideas are MUCH better.

Jess Poskozim said...

How about...
"Not a spit up rag"
"Uncle Franklin loves me"
"Real men wear lace" (guess that only works for a nephew)
"Knitter in training"
"Future Yarn Ho"

Maryb said...

niecephew. Brilliant. MaryB

Maryb said...

niecephew. Brilliant. MaryB

knottykitty said...

Lovely, and lovingly worked, I'm sure! For the record, I love the "pee on this and...." That would be one to pass down through the ages! :)

deb

Penny said...

One day i aspire to knit lace like that. WOW. thank you ! something like that has been in my head (have you been in my head? oh dear..) .. in the meantime I'm going to continue looking for missing WIPs.. and knit some other lace. which while awesome isn't even close.

and where does one find the lace alphabet. I need to start practicing that too. (is it [thank you google] Bridget Rorem's lacy alphabet from Piecework, May/June 1998) ? do tell! please?

Mel said...

Huh, and I always thought John Paul Jones said it first. Maybe Holmes was quoting. My verification word is "zyzqi", which sounds like some esoteric form of bodywork.

Mel said...

Also, I got to fondle the cashmere/silk at Woolcott yesterday. Not a purchase I could justify just now, though I was sorely tempted. Lucky, lucky baby.

Now my verification word is "wuvlnp".

Sharon J said...

Stunning, yes, but more to the point: Is it too late to get my question to Dolores for this week's column?

Linda said...

It was worth all the creative pain because it is looking lovely.

Sean said...

I just love the care and attention you've put into this—all that research and swatching. It'll give you confidence in making the actual shawl. I'm so happy that yarn is finding a worthy project!

Sharon Rose said...

Please, please share the source of your lace alphabet! We bow to your knitting research!

Carol said...

Lovely swatch. I think you should put the "pee on this shawl..." warning on it. *snork*

Ted said...

This will be amazing.

Carrie K said...

I believe the quote is Oscar Wilde. Or maybe the prosecuting atty.

Oh, awesome! And with a hidden message! Too cool.

Ina said...

Very pretty! Where can one get a lace alphabet of one's own?

Windsornot said...

Wow, that swatch is gorgeous! And I never thought of putting letters into lace, so I think that's creative. (Can you tell I haven't advanced to that kind of knitting yet?). I rather liked many of the ideas you had there too. I'd have a hard time choosing from those too. Perhaps put one of them, your favorite, into Latin or some other language? :-P As always, I appreciate your brilliant writing talents, as it always ensures that I have to use my brain and enjoy it too. ;-) Oh, and one suggestion-- perhaps you could do the christening shawl with the beginning of a phrase, and then see if you can make other pieces to add and make a blanket or bedspread for the kiddo that would have the WHOLE phrase on it. That might work.

FiberQat said...

I'm very impressed, Mister Aitch. Was it not that long ago that you were fretting over your first sock? Now where does Jean Miles have that alphabet hidden?

My verification word is mewkrpw. I won't go into details of what it brought to mind.

Janet said...

My vote is for the "you can become a Buddhist later on" option.

Heidi said...

Just the thought of the little treasure peeing on that shwal is enough to send shivers down my spine! If you do knit it with the "if you pee on this" line, you could always throw these in for good measure
http://www.cheekymonkey.ca/PPTP.htm

Your rock :)
Heidi

GailB said...

I am particularly impressed by the alphabet and how well it shows up in lace. That must be some message to top the ones listed!

Woolybelle said...

Seriously lovely. Can't wait to see the finished shawl. It's going to be a true heirloom.

CarolineF said...

heehee I like "god bless the child..' or the one about becoming a buddhist. (And 'qvqret' to you too on behalf of the word verification fairy)

SheepsPyjamas said...

The swatch is lovely, and I can't wait to hear the final quote (especially given the "pee on this" took second place to it!). Can't wait to see more, plain, simple...

And to Ann (yet another) (who sadly has no link-to): I also love the "And the greatest of these..." sap that I am, and may use that as a starting point for a lacy quote of mine own, if you don't mind accepting my thanks...

G'day all, and iovhc bbyxy (apparently my first try was a failure)...

Mom said...

You are so amazing. I love the sample of the lace and know that you have put a lot of time into it so far. Susan will go nuts when she sees what you are doing and love it as much as I do. You always put so much into everything you knit.

Andrea Rusin said...

I snorted my coffee at "be thankful this isn't a bris".

And isn't this child almost among us by now? I hope you're knitting fast!

chandra said...

can't wait to see the finished shawl! makes me think that i should start my first lace project, and not be scared of it...

KnitNana said...

Gorgeous!
THAT's a family heirloom!
(((hugs)))

mira said...

wow!

Sarah said...

Gorgeous! That'll be such a sweet present -- but don't be so quick to reject "be thankful this isn't a bris!"

Bev in TN said...

Just call me D for Dorky, but I'm loving that lace alphabet! Pretty please, please, please, will you share with the rest of us? Where might one find instructions for the lace alphabet? I linked to Jean's blog but didn't find it? And, oh yeah, I meant to say that the swatch is lovely.

Stephanie said...

You are priceless, Franklin, and I love you. I truly love you. I look forward to reading your blog with the same anticipation I used to feel for a new episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer- I know I can count on laughing out loud and wiping away a tear by the end of your post. No matter what else is going on in your world, just know that there is a strange little woman living in suburban hell who treasures you and is very grateful that you share your gifts.

David said...

Actually, that wasn't what I was thinking at all. It was more related to locker rooms and sweaty towels, but I'll let you hold onto your assumptions.

TheBunny said...

SWAK

Tracey, in MI said...

that is going to be amazing!

can't wait to see !

junior_goddess said...

What was the alphabet source again? Please, please tell us again!

The shawl is gonna be beautiful. Better hurry up!

Natalie Servant said...

Joining the chorus of crazy lace knitters clamoring for the lace alphabet source. Help!

Ginger_nut said...

the alphabet is darling! I can't wait for a peek at the finished shawl.

You may not finish with stretch marks or scars, but I bet you will have a mean callous or two from your knitting needles to scare the poor kid with!

Anonymous said...

Franklin,

You are a god. A knitting god, a writing god. You are a double god. omg.

a bashful admirer

beadntat said...

I dunno, I kinda liked the last two choices, esp. the Bris. But my many years of being baby nurse tells me that wee ones can do a lot worse things to blankies than pee on them--at least pee washes out fairly easily. Of course that doesn't say much for the work of blocking :-D Seriously though, the lace is spectacular and that's one lucky kid IMHO. Bravo to you for knitting such a masterpiece! Kristina in TN

Aquana said...

It's lovely.

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