Tuesday, January 31, 2006


When I agreed to make the "gold medal" for the Knitting Olympics, I figured that would be the extent of my participation. After the ruana, I am no fan of knitting on a deadline. I thought the idea was brilliant, just not my cup of cocoa.

Then Marilyn asked me if I might like to join her and some other knitters in working on this, the Wedding Ring Shawl from Heirloom Knitting, as a summer project.

As you may remember, knitting lace is my personal Mt. Everest. I've dabbled in it, I've taken classes with Nancy Bush and Galina Khmeleva, I've read every book on it I can lay hands on. I just haven't actually made a finished project. And there's no way I was going to pass up a chance to work on a project with experienced knitters to offer advice and encouragement.

In order to get my chops ready for the Wedding Ring Shawl, I decided to take on one of the sample shawl* patterns from Galina's book on Orenberg lace, with the goal of finishing it and blocking it in a reasonable amount of time. I cannot promise to finish by the time the torch goes out, and I'm not going to let that worry me. My goal is to work a piece of lace to the end and block it.

In spite of everything I've read and everything that's been said to me, I'm sorry, but blocking in general is scary to a newbie and blocking lace, in particular, makes me want to crawl under the bed with my teddy bear. I have no intent of launching into a Shetland showpiece without prior experience of the whole process under my belt, so a sample shawl it is.

As nothing motivates me quite like a looming deadline (I was once a writer, after all) the Knitting Olympics seemed like the very thing to make me pick up the needles and just do it.

Funny, You Don't Look Welsh

Then I got a message from Brenda Dayne of the Cast On podcast, asking if I'd like to join the Welsh Knitting Olympics Team.

One brief romance with a guy from Cardiff notwithstanding, I don't have a drop of Welsh in me. But Aidan's doing it, and one of Susan's neighbors read A Child's Christmas in Wales to us on Christmas Eve, and I like leek soup, so I figured hey, why not. I just hope they don't ask me to sing the national anthem.

Speaking of Brenda: Yes, I am at work on another piece for an upcoming episode of her show. No, Herbie the Elf will not be making a guest appearance this time. Herbie and I are not speaking at the moment, and he knows perfectly well why. Thank you so much for bringing up a very painful subject.

*Sample. Meaning miniature. Think doily. I am not going to try to knit a five-foot full-sized Orenberg in two weeks. Despite what you may have heard or any pictures you may have seen, I am not into masochism as a lifestyle.


jenclair said...

I've been a lurking reader of your blog (which I really enjoy!) since discovering it a week or so ago. Here is a link I think you'd enjoy: http://www.gregkucera.com/newport.htm

dpaste said...

The Jamaican Bobsleders of the Knitting World.


Anonymous said...

Would you also like to join Team Colorado? We'd love to have you.
We just started on Sunday, so not many participants just yet, but we're growing.


Anonymous said...

i'd already planned to knit that snowflake on page 102 of gossmar webs or maybe the one on 103...they would make wonderful end bits for a scarf don't ya think?

Anonymous said...

Good for you. I finally decided to join today too. Knit Blogger peer-pressure :) Lace project for me too.

Aidan said...

Back off, Joanne! He's knitting for Wales!

Check with Colorado Jon and see if he's taken!

I am really having fun with this Knitting Olympics. Any reason to push myself to knit!

BTW -- since the Gay Games are in Chicago this summer, will we be forming a Gay/Straight Kitting Alliance for the Gay Games?

Ambermoggie, a fragrant soul said...

All this talk of the Olympics is too too much. I'm not normally a sporting persona but maybe the mog will have to dip her paw into the game and make something. Now I wonder if there is a kitty team taking part?

Anonymous said...

You know, I really love the new spelling of your name. Very classy. Perhaps you should consider keeping it that way.

I admit to feeling the lure of Team Wales, which I do qualify for by ancestry as well as having visited and liking sheep and all that. But I'm proudly and officially registered as part of Team Canada. Our Committee had already organized team shirts and a pub night. How could I resist?

Anonymous said...

Do post on the blocking. I haven't figured out a place/way to do it in my cramped quarters yet.

LornaJay said...

And there I was hoping that I could recruit you for Team Scotland....

Anonymous said...

I don't think there's a constraint on being part of more than one team, so I would mightily recommend the Team Swearing At Lace Button to you, if I could find it.

I'm sticking to Team Merlot

kathy b said...

Oh, I too am fearful of blocking and lace. I am looking for a no miss pattern. THe last lace shawl I got halfway through had too many rows in similar sequence. Before I knew it, whatever i was chanting to myself from the previous row wound up in the next row chant. My brain gave up. I frogged. I think the only way it would have worked is if I had done one row a day for a thousand years or something. Soured me....

Anonymous said...

I think its outrageously funny to join Wales with such tenuous connections and good on them for asking. Nothing like expediency!
PS the whole gym loves your two needles T shirt that I wear there. Those who know it point it out to others. A bit embarassing for this fat middle aged woman.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Franklin-
I just placed an order with Heirloom Knitting. If you keep on being such an enabler, I might have to take your blog off my bloglines list!!!

Anonymous said...

The little lace sampler from the Gossamer book is a very good thing. You'll learn lots. What yarn will you use?

I'd offer to come hold your hand while you block it, but I'm sure by the time I got there, you'll have it done. Blocking is great: it's very satisfying. You'll do fine. Mar posted about blocking a shawl just before she went to Rhinebeck; there was very good information there.

I see you have joined the ranks of the "ultra-skilled knitters." Once you get your hands scaled down to the fine yarn, the Wedding Ring should go quite smoothly.

dragon knitter said...

hey, i'm working on a piece for brenda myself (actually, it's done, lol, just having a tough time with the whole email thing, i tried to email her back,a nd it bounced like a bad check)

Carol said...

Maybe I will start my own "Team Finish A Bunch of Abandoned Projects" for the 'lympics. But only if Marilyn resurrects the Warshcloth of Turin in honor of the Games.

Liz said...

Okay, so it's not a five foot gigunda thing. It's still going to be a challenge.

Good luck, Ffrankllyn!


Anonymous said...

Blocking lace is one of those things that I did early on as a knitter and because no one ever told me it was supposed to be hard, I never thought it was.

It's a lot like blocking anything else-- though the pinning out is more time consuming, the technique is the same. And the pay off is so magical that the extra time seems negligible.

You can also block lace on your bed first thing in the morning and, because it's so lightweight, it will be dry and ready to unpin before you go to bed at night.

That's all. Enjoy the project!

Liz said...

Blocking lace is a transforming experience; you begin with a heap of gnarled old washing and end up with an ethereal wonder; another of the miracles of yarn. I'd suggest buying 6 times as many pins as you thought you needed and making sure you remove as many as possible from the mattress before retiring....

Anonymous said...

Doesn't FFrankllyn have too many vowels to be Welsh?

Anonymous said...

You're really gonna' do all this, huh?

Good luck, and get some magnetic bracelets and a pair of those support gloves, tee hee.

Rabbitch said...

Dude, I think you should get a wheel, spin all of the yarn yourself and THEN knit a full-sized Orenberg in two weeks.

I have faith in you (and am willing to send you roving).

I'm thinking of joining Team Wales as well as the Team Canada's Drunken Lace Knitting Team. Because, you know, well ... I'm drunk.

That's the only way that that would make any sort of sense, no?

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