Talk about your narrow escapes. Last night's plane out of Maine narrowly escaped the snapping jaws of one snowstorm, and today Chicago–which was clear when I landed at eight o'clock–is being socked by another. My view, which normally stretches to the lake's edge and beyond, has diminished to intermittent glimpses of the street below and the tip of the high-rise three blocks north.
A grand display, to be sure; but I'm happy to neither fly through it nor shovel it off the walk.
Instead, let's talk about knitting. Better still, let's look at some.
Christmas is past. The gifts have been opened. This year, there were two that came from my needles and the first was a piece of lace.
Project: The Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark (Interweave Knits, Fall 2004). Now available from Fiber Trends.
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Lace in colorway...uh...it's green. Will I ever learn to hang on to the ball band?
Needles: Addi Turbo size US 3
Genesis: I was visiting my parents in Indiana and my mother suggested that I might like to go out yarn hunting. (She's come a long way, has my mother, since I was a little kid and she'd suggest that I might like to mow the lawn on Saturday morning or have another helping of green beans.)
We were at Stitches 'n' Scones when Mom spotted the Misti Alpaca Lace and mentioned that it was her favorite shade of green. I bought it as casually as ever I could, affecting the nonchalant pose of one who might, one day, perhaps, knit something with it. Or then again, he might not. He might instead use it to tie up tomato plants, or trade it on the playground for Meg Swansen and Beth Brown-Reinsel bubblegum cards.
But secretly, in the deepest wrinkles of my brain, I decided that if I could find a suitable pattern quickly enough, Mom would be getting a lace shawl for Christmas.
Notes on the Pattern: Deservedly popular. According to Ravelry, as of this writing 537 members have begun or completed this shawl and another 575 have it queued up.
You begin with this nifty little set of seven or so stitches and then the thing gets bigger, and bigger, and deeper, and wider. You think, Aha! I am beginning at the tip and working toward the top.
But you are not! No! You have begun at the center of the top and are working downwards and sideways simultaneously!
You realize this with a gasp. And you think, Oh Evelyn Clark, you clever little minx! Come over here right now so I can tweak you on your dear nose and feed you a peppermint bonbon!
Or something like that. Your actual thoughts may vary.
And then you knit and knit and knit and knit, and for a pattern that is so much of the same thing over and over it's astonishingly fun and relaxing.
Evelyn Clark, you are a genius and I hope you are living a very comfortable life being waited on hand and foot by unusually attractive servants of whichever gender you prefer.
Variations: Evelyn's original calls for two strands of Misti Alpaca held double throughout and worked on a US 7 needle. It yields a handsome product which can be knit up by most folks in a surprisingly short (for a shawl) amount of time. Some Ravelers claim to have finished it in a week.
I wanted something lighter and more delicate, so I used a single strand of Misti Alpaca on a smaller needle. This meant doing many more repeats than are called for in the written pattern, but as the stitch growth rate per row remains the same it required no additional math. You can't beat that with a stick.
I worked Mom's shawl for a total of 22 repeats, which (when blocked) yielded a finished piece slightly larger than Evelyn's.
And speaking of blocking, I include the following action sequence for the pleasure of all but particularly for Brenda Dayne, who apparently gets a sadistic kick from watching lace tortured on the rack.
Auuuuuggggghhhh! Yes! Yes! More please, Master! Yes!
I'm going to tell you about Abigail's Christmas present tomorrow. I just don't seem to be in a mood appropriate for discussing baby clothes right now.