My sister, Susan, is due any second. I've never known nine months to flit past so quickly in all my life.
Athough she has reassured me that the baby won't be christened for quite some time, I still feel a sense of urgency about the shawl. It seldom leaves my side these days, and I am pleased to find that a few stitches here and there does, in fact, add up.
This is it as of five minutes ago, looking crumpled and forlorn as unblocked lace will insist upon doing.
The center panel, which was knitted flat is complete. I've picked up stitches all around the edge and am now working the borders round and round and round and round. And round.
The first bit of border is just a simple band of stockinette with the flower motif Sharon Miller adapted (in Heirloom Knitting) from the traditional cat's paw pattern. I wanted something to buffer the transition from the center to the borders; this seems to have done the trick.
The borders proper - of which I've worked exactly one round - will be a mesh-and-diamonds motif. It should pick up the geometry of the center panel, but instead of diagonals made from decreases, it has diagonals made from yarn-overs.
Reader Richard from DC asked about picking up stitches from the center panel. I made it easy on myself, Richard. When casting on, I added an extra stitch to either side of the pattern, then slipped the first stitch of every row as I knit. Since the standard rule for making a square is to knit twice as many rows as cast-on stitches, when it was time to pick up those edges I had the perfect number of little loops on either side waiting for me. No guesswork, no fuss. Not a revolutionary idea–it's the way Mary Thomas (and many, many others) work the edges of the heel flap on a sock.
I've also eliminated a lot of fuss by restricting myself to patterns that have a plain row every other round. Now that I'm working circularly, it means every other row is just knitting, except at the corner points where I increase by 1 yarn-over on either side of a central stitch. This is the same increase method (out of Elizabeth Zimmermann) that I used in Glencora and it reasonably approximates the look of the grafting done in traditional Shetland Shawls. (By "reasonably approximates," I mean it looks sort of the same if you have no idea what you're looking at and you squint.)
So you see, it's not much of an accomplishment to work this piece on the subway. (You want to see really impressive stuff, go here and here.) The stitch patterns are small - the largest repeat being 12 stitches wide and sixteen high - and grow so logically that after four rounds I don't need the pattern for reference.
Of course, when it's finished and everyone's getting ready for the christeninig and I unfurl it and they all say "ooh" the Official Story will be that I had to sit naked in a mountain hermitage for six months and learn Tantric breathing just to work the provisional cast-on.