Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas 2007 Knitting Revealed!

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.

Flower Basket Shawl

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.

Flower Basket ShawlNotes 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.

Flower Basket Shawl

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.

Before.

Flower Basket Shawl Unblocked

After.

Flower Basket Shawl Blocked

Auuuuuggggghhhh! Yes! Yes! More please, Master! Yes!

Ahem.

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.

58 comments:

Suzanne said...

Conslusions:
I must make the Flower Basket Shawl and you are the funniest thing EVAH! I adore your blog.

CityMinx said...

oooo, aaahhhhh

Lace porn....

ahem. sorry. ok, going back to work now. thanks for the quickie

holli said...

Ah Franklin, you make a mom proud. How very gorgeous. And I must admit the blocking process you describe is, ahem, very intriguing.

Meredith said...

The shawl is beautiful! And I must say that I'll never think of blocking in quite the same way again...

Yvonne said...

My friend SJ[paknitwit(dot)blogspot(dot)com] made the same shawl, in the same colorway, for her wedding...and I think she also used only a single strand! The shawl is gorgeous, Franklin. You give us all something to aspire to.

Telmah said...

I can't wait 'till Evelyn Clark finds out what you said about her...

ponyknit said...

Mmmmmmmmm Flower Basket Shawls and peppermint bonbon's, I'm there ;)

Ann said...

Lovely shawl.

Evelyn has her own online storefront now for her patterns:
http://evelynclarkdesigns.com/

Paul said...

The shawl is gorgeous, and, as always, I just love reading your blog. Thanks.

Gamba Girl said...

A friend turned me on to your blog and Brenda Dayne nearly at the same time. I've caught up to the present with you, but alas am way behind with Brenda. However, I've enjoyed getting to know you, and wish you a happy new year!

Christine said...

As usual, you amaze me, Franklin. I hope I grow up to be as creative and productive as you are (and I'd damnwell better hurry up about it, too, considering I've been working on it for more than half a century!)

I'd like to recommend to you the work of a very talented designer who creates the most beautiful lace shawls, and then gives away the beautifully written patterns for them. Her Ravelry name is ShuiKuen, and you can see her work there, and pick up the patterns for them on Elann.com's free patterns page. She's just incredible.

SJ said...

I wonder if anyone has called Evelyn Clark a minx before ...

I share you love of this pattern (I knit myself one for my wedding!) and the yarn. I hope your mother adores it!

Beverly said...

I've got one of those Meg Swansen trading cards if you're missing it. Just saying.

Seanna Lea said...

I love knitting bondage! It's a crack of the wire blockers and away we go.

KnitNana said...

YEAH! I love love love it..and I bet Mom did, too?
Thanks for the info, I was thinking I didn't want to knit it double, but hadn't yet gone on to how to knit it single and larger, on smaller needles...I don't think I've queued it at all, but I'm gonna.

Lucky lucky Mom!
(((hugs)))

askatknits said...

Now, now - there will be none of that Lace S and M talk!! LOL

You are divinely hysterical!

Muuaahhhhhhh!

Kris said...

So beautiful.

I'm currently working on the FBS myself and also using a single strand of Misti Lace. Mine was less thought out... I simply missed that part of the directions.

Lace knitting causes me great stress. I fear it will not turn out as intended. I'm a lace newbie with just a few projects under my belt so I still have a bit of trouble with just having faith that the pattern will actually turn out.

Thanks for posting about the project. It is truly beautiful.

MonicaPDX said...

So beautiful! And you had me snerking at the oh-so-casual buying description. Which was fairly innocent compared to my reaction to the lace bondage...

Stay warm, hopefully without having to cuddle up to Dolores! [eg]

Sock Knitter said...

That is astonishingly gorgeous. And will be put in my queue immediately, too!

I think there are many of us who get a thrill out of seeing blocked lace, so Brenda -- You're not alone :)

Thanks for sharing, Franklin!

Julie said...

No, you definitely can not discuss baby things after that little blocking bondage session!

The shawl is beautiful; your mom is a lucky woman.

Judy in Indiana said...

Ah, Stitches and Scones, my favorite hometown place and I live just a few miles away. I pass it when I am in the carpool lane with kids in tow....I love those people...and that store....thanks for the shout out!

beadslut said...

I forgot how pretty that is, and I have one in Time Out, because I made a mistake about ten rows back. Thanks for reminding me, out it comes, as soon as I finish Ice Queen.

anne marie in philly said...

just bee-yoo-tee-ful!

hope your mom liked it; make sure dolores doesn't steal it.

happy happy great 2008 to you and your crazy household (dolores, harry, the sock yarn, the sheep)!

Cindy said...

Glad your home safe and sound. My list grows ever longer because of you. I think the Shawl would look hot for my date night atire with nothing under. Oh la la.

christine (threedogknits) said...

Oh how I love Stiches & Scones. I go there every time I visit my mother in Indiana. Last time, over Thanksgiving, I arranged for a private lesson to learn how to assemble my first sweater. Such a great store. Love the Flower Basket Shawl. I have the pattern; if I ever find the patience to knit lace I will knit it.

Pearls Mother said...

franklin, you're mother must have been thrilled.
it's a gorgeous shawl and i love the colour.
Lindy

wetexit said...

I'll second that cityminx comment..
aahhhh, lace porn!! and raise her one "YUM!"

Wet

quinn said...

I just found your blog last month, and am now addicted...

must ask:

was your mom amazed? was she thrilled? was she amazed AND thrilled???

KarenJoSeattle said...

I think the whole of North America is caught in a storm system currently. Good you made it home. I'm hanging out in California a few extra days since there's snow from Seattle to northern California where I am right now and will be on most of the route for the next couple of days.

Evelyn's in my knitting guild. She's a sweet, kind genius.

Yvonne said...

Ah, yes, the Flower Basket Shawl. . . I did one for Christmas, too! I used a single strand of Crystal Palace Kid Merino, variegated. . . I like yours better. Plus, I had the urge to poke my eyes out after about 13 repeats of the pattern, so it's smaller. You have one very lucky Mom. :-)

stash haus said...

Wow. Your Mom is one lucky woman - it's gorgeous!

Knitting bondage? Hmm - a different safe word for different fibers?

eibhlin55 said...

Franklin, the shawl is just lovely. I'm in the middle of a FBS myself, with the Kauni yarn in an autumn colorway. The pattern is just complex enough to keep from getting boring - much like modular knitting, "just one more repeat" - the green is lovely and sophisticated and I'm sure your mom was stunned and delighted. Happy New Year.

Helen said...

I made one of EC's Shetland Triangles and have been meaning to do a Flower Basket ever since. Maybe in 2008.

Your mother is a lucky woman, in many ways.

Linda said...

I cannot believe I let Christmas shopping get in the way of a Maine-based Franklin sighting! So sorry I missed you.

Your lacework is inspiring.

As is your blocking description... hmmmmm.... I think I may have some "lace" that needs "blocking" myself... heh. ;-)

missalicefaye said...

Lovely!
And thanks for the Stitches and Scones review--I spent a few quality hours there while visiting my mom this week. :)

Sue J said...

Franklin.........you can call me Mama anytime!!!!!!!!!

Mary the Digital Knitter said...

Franklin, have you seen Evelyn A. Clark's book on Knitting Lace Triangles? Photo here. I got my copy at Elann, but I've seen it elsewhere.

It has four lace patterns, one border pattern, and a zillion possiblities. It's a wonderful book.

Corbie said...

The Flower Basket Shawl was the first lace project I ever knitted -- I had to rip back a couple of times before I figured out that on the rows where a K2TOG is right next to a marker, it's a good idea to shift the marker on the preceding ws row. After that, things went swimmingly, and I went on to design my own shawl based on the same top-down knitting principle. Evelyn Clark has since published a booklet, "Knitting Lace Triangles", on that design concept. Yay, Evelyn!

Ted said...

Looks good, Franklin. I hope your mother was pleased.

cathy said...

This is gorgeous. I have a son in Chicago, can you teach him to knit, so he can make it for me?

Gotta Knit! said...

Oh, Franklin, that is truly a work of lace art. I'm sure your mother was stunned by it's beauty.

Mom said...

I truly love the Shawl. It is just the right weight for under a jacket. I have used it a few time already. It is turly a beautiful piece of lace. I will treasure it always. Thank you for making it for me. Love Mom

Anonymous said...

Franklin: fun meeting you at the airport. I'll enjoy reading your blog and someday taking a class of your's!

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jessbcuz said...

drooling.....

o.k. one day i will try something like this...and I will thank you.

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