This is mostly a knitting blog. Sometimes pictures of things I've made, sometimes not. I'm a guy who knits, I usually attend a men's stitch 'n' bitch on Monday nights, and I prefer natural fibres to artificial ones. I have a love-hate relationship with bamboo yarns: I love what they can do and how they look, I hate how they are made. I've been knitting since about 2003, though I really didn't get into it until 2005, while convelescing with a broken leg. I must have discovered something good, 'cause I'm still knitting years later.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lace 'n' Stuff

Last year I made my first lace shawl. I had promised Miss Caroline, the mother of a good friend, a shawl in light purple or lavender, whichever I found first. I tried several yarns, one, a lovely alpaca-wool-silk that I bought in Canada (the brand was Aztec, if I can remember a-right) had a sheen to it, sedate, lovely, but with a bit of pizzazz. A touch of flair. And soft! Really lovely stuff. Unfortunately, I didn't really know what I was doing, and that yarn didn't work out for me. I started to resent the yarn. The fact that the shawl wasn't coming together was the yarn's fault! Yeah! How dare this yarn be all nasty and recalcitrant and refuse to get all knitted up for Miss Caroline's shawl. Miss Caroline is one of the nicest people I know, with a wicked* sense of humour and a sharp eye that doen't miss much, if anything at all. How could this yarn do this to Miss Caroline? What did she do to you that you should treat her like this?

I put the shawl aside. And felt guilty. Really guilty. See, I'm ethnically Italian. I get the Catholic guilt thing. Add to this that I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood, and I have a lot of Jewish guilt, too. Guilt is a funny thing. It makes me procrastinate. The guiltier I feel, the less likely I am to do whatever it is that is weighing on me. You could almost think I enjoy wallowing in the guilt. Sort of like a luxurious bath. Calgon Guilt, take me away!

Eventually, I found another yarn, mostly bamboo, with a bit of silk. That stuff was fine. Pretty. And the silk gave it that sheen that catches the sunlight. So I knit that puppy up in almost no time! Well, no time for lace. It took a few weeks, and there were setbacks. Like the time I was visiting my friend, Miss Caroline's daughter, and was working on the shawl. I put it down for a moment, and when I came back to it, one of Miss Caroline's grandchildren had taken it off the needles. Ninety-nine stitches of a 32-line pattern on small needles had to be put back on. No, I hadn't used a life-line. I had bought the mercerised cotton for lifelines, and even carried the spool in my knitting bag. But I had never actually used a life-line. Yes, there was tinking that night.

Eventually, the shawl got finished. Hooray! But it had to be blocked. I had a mental block about blocking the shawl. I'd read all sorts of things about how to block a shawl. You needed wires, or had to run a string through it and I was, frankly, intimidated. Finally, I just blocked it like I would a sweater. No strings. No wires. I just pinned it to my blocking board, spritzed it and let it dry. It worked. I finished knitting the shawl in October, 2009. I blocked it in July, 2010. Miss Caroline got it shortly thereafter.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of it. So my friend took a couple of pictures of it for me before she sent it to her mother. Naturally, she photographed it Right-Side-Down. Here are a couple of pictures of it that she took. She's promised me when she sees Miss Caroline over Thanksgiving, she'll take a few more.

The pattern is Upstairs Shawl, by Michaela Behrends. It can be found on Ravelry.

*wicked in the Boston sense, as a superlative.

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