Friday, August 17, 2007

The Joy of Small Things

Some projects are epics, and when they're finished you stand there blinking and thinking "I made that?"

Some projects are more of a short story, and when they're finished you regard them with a cheerful countenance and say, "I made that."

In the aftermath of Abigail's shawl I find myself not at all inclined to cease knitting lace. On the other hand, jumping right into another shawl of comparable size didn't feel right. Instead, I pulled some sock yarn out of the stash and created Altar Cloth V.2.0. (Version one, which you can see here, went some time ago to live with my grandmother in Pennsylvania. It has since converted to Roman Catholicism and now prefers to be called a doily.)

It took about a week or so, and was fun all the while. Here's the dossier on a simple but satisfying little project.

Blocked, Detail

Yarn: Mysterious itchy sock yarn out of my stash. The same stuff I used to make the Orenberg sample shawl for the Knitting Olympics.

Needles: Inox US 2 3/4 straights

Knot

Patterns: The stitch motif used by Cheryl Oberle for the Kimono Shawl in Folk Shawls for the sides. In the center, the knot pattern collected in Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns and also to be found, charted, in Meg Swansen's A Gathering of Lace.

Method: Disgustingly simple and wholly unoriginal.
  1. Using a loose, stretchy technique (I did a knitted cast-on over two needles) cast on enough stitches sufficient to accommodate however many repeats of the Kimono Shawl motif you want, plus three edging stitches on either side.

  2. Work six rows (three ridges) in garter stitch.

  3. Commence Kimono Shawl motif, working first and last three stitches of each row as garter stitch.

  4. When you've made the edge deep enough (preferably ending on a complete repeat of the Kimono shawl motif), knit two rows plain and begin knot pattern. Take care to center it perfectly.

  5. When knot pattern is complete, knit one row plain and place live stitches on holder or length of waste yarn. Break working yarn.

  6. Repeat steps 1-3 to create a second piece, identical to the first up to the beginning of the knot pattern.

  7. Put first piece back on the second needle and graft the two pieces together using Kitchener Stitch.

  8. Block severely, but with compassion.
In UseOf course, if the Kimono Shawl motif were not directional or if I hadn't cared about making the tips of all the leaf shapes point at the central knot, I could have just knit the entire piece in one shot.

It ain't perfect. I rather wish I'd done something more with the plain stockinette areas around the knot. Perhaps in version three.

But the roughness of the yarn, which I would not have appreciated in a sock, looks well on a small, Zen altar and on the whole, I'm pleased.

So pleased that I think it's time for more lace.

40 comments:

David said...

Did the alter cloth, er, doily, have to be baptised?

Bea said...

Looks really good! Please do more lace.. ;)
Have a nice weekend(Dolores too)!

Lisa said...

It looks great on the altar!

Almost has me ready to attempt some lace myself.....

Glenda said...

(sigh!) You're so talented Franklin.

If I lived in Chicago, I would befriend you immediately (if you would let me!) so that some of your creativeness could maybe rub off on me one day!

As it is, I'll just have to keep reading your blog for inspiration! :)

KnitNana said...

Just lovely! So glad you're in the mood for more lace!
(((hugs)))

Julie said...

Very nice, and bwahaha on the altar cloth that converted.

Longhorn Diva said...

Franklin,

I like the stockinette surround..it's like breathing space or silence...it brings out the knot more to me. Lovely.

missalicefaye said...

Very beautiful--I actually really like the simplicity of the stockinette areas in contrast with the more complex knot.

I confess that I never block with compassion, though. :)

StarSpry said...

That looks great! I really like it :)

Rita said...

Your altar looks really very holy. Thank you for showing it to us. Such a very sacred place. The cloth is precious. Franklin. I think you did a great job knitting it. Rita

Gigi said...

I have to laugh at the way you are hooked on lace having had a similar experience. I tried filet crochet, and once I understood it's structure, found myself picking out more and more such projects to work on. Hooked? Yup! LOL

janna said...

So pretty! I really need to get the Folk Shawls book - I'm pretty hooked on lace myself right now. And I love the idea of your altar cloth becoming a Catholic doily! ;-)

calamity rach said...

Hey, that happened to me, too. I just finished my Icarus last night and immediately cast on for the Myrtle Leaf Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. Obviously, I can't get over the "Holy shit, I made that"

anneonymousone said...

Gwan Yin looks especially pleased in the presence of the knot that symbolizes eternity. Lovely, Franklin.

Ann said...

It's beautiful. Anything much more than the stockinette in the center panel would have detracted from the lace insert. I like it just as it is. You have motivated me into make a lace mat for my dry bar.

seizuresalad said...

I like the plain stockinette around the knot pattern, it looks more like a cloth than an antimacassar or doily.

Did the now-RC altar cloth have to take a saints' name? Which one would be appropriate I wonder?

MN Tim said...

Simple?! Good heavens. My eyes glazed over at step one. It sounds rather difficult to me. Of course, you haven't taught me how to knit yet. Hopefully soon?

judith in ottawa said...

Franklin, honey, you say your needles are "Inox US 2 3/4 straights". That smells to me like a metric size, mais non? If so, it is decidely not "US" as you folks don't DO THAT down there, n'est pas?

Love
A Canuk Sheep

Liz said...

Lovely grafting, too!

Five Ferns Fibreholic said...

It's always time for lace....the more intricate the better...that's what I say!!!!!

Eldronius said...

Are you kidding? The plain middle around the knot is perfect. I like the simple background to make the complexity of the knot pop out.

Great job.

I am currently knitting a vintage doily, and I hope mine turns out as good!

Ria said...

It looks quite nice. I took inspiration from your first altar cloth and decided to knit up the same pattern for a friend who asked me to knit her something for her own altar. I wish I had access to the knotwork pattern you've used for the second version; I really like it.

MonicaPDX said...

Beautiful altar, beautiful altar cloth.

And without the Void, how can one appreciate the complexity of the endlessly twining Knot?

Lorraine said...

Franklin- Lace does beget lace, does beget lace............

Sean said...

You're becoming a lace aficionado! I love it! Great job!

marie in florida said...

beautiful and peaceful

JanKnitz said...

I can't believe you just "whipped" that up, Franklin. It's beautiful.

I have that same funny blue bowl and I love it. It's like owning a piece of the sky.

Jenna said...

Hi Franklin,

Lovely work yet again.
I heard about this story on NPR, I think they might be relatives of Dolores.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,500257,00.html

dale-harriet said...

O my dear, the timing is "parfait"! It's easing toward my favorite of all the Seasons; in Autumn I arrange all my knittng plans for the winter, and thanks to you I think this is my season for Lace. I have to do socks too, but I think a lacy sock-y season will be just the thing. You know, you're right - and hand-knit altar cloth (of ANY persuasion) is just the thing!

Mary said...

Warning: Lace is addictive. The altar cloth is lovely -- fit for any god. MEM

Twilight said...

Groovy! That makes me want to knit an altar cloth for myself.

I've recently gotten into lace myself.

Carol said...

Does it mind being there since it converted? It's very lovely not matter how it feels.

MaryB said...

I, too, am in the throes of a knitting lace obsession right now. Working on the Heartland Shawl by Evelyn Clark. (BTW, you can't go wrong with an Evelyn Clark design.) It started with Cookie's Monkey Socks. While not completely lace, they are sort of lace, and then before I knew it I was making the Angel Lace Shawl and now the Heartland. Knitting lace makes me feel so very smart -- like doing a crossword puzzle, without the words. Sort of. MaryB

Mary Lynn said...

Loved reading the link to your Grandma. I was at my niece's house this past Saturday for a picnic. My sisters and I were knitting or crocheting. My niece leaned over my shoulder and looked at what I was doing and said "you have Gramma's hands." I do. I wish I had her talent!

goblinbox said...

It had never once occurred to me to knit myself an altar cloth. You're a genius.

Ellen in Conn said...

I looked at your Grandma post, with the hands, and I want to know who is the lady in the picture frame behind her? My Grandma made woolen patchwork quilts.

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