Autumn Arbor is blocking…

And here it is! I decided to block it in my spare room. I laid down a couple cotton blankets and laid a flat white sheet on top of that. I washed the shawl very, very carefully then wrapped it in a towel for about a half hour so the towel could soak up some of the water.

I then laid out the shawl (also carefully) and did not stretch it out right away but instead started at one end, pinned out the end and then started down the sides. I worked my way down the sides together, pinning down 7 points on one side, then 7 on the other, stretching the body in between. It didn’t take quite as along as I had expected. About 45 minutes. I used up all but one of my blocking pins (I think the box comes with 200 but am not sure). The shawl is some 95 inches long. In fact, my spare room is quite cozy, so the shawl is actually laid out so that it goes just a bit into the actual doorway.
It’ll dry fast. I was actually worried that the unpinned end would dry before I got it all pinned out, but it didn’t. I’ll leave it there for at least 24 hours, maybe longer. I cannot wait to unpin in and see how it looks.
I do love knitting lace!

In with the new!

I am such a knitter…

On Wednesday, I finished knitting Jen’s wedding shawl, wove the two pieces together (though I must say I’m a better knitter than weaver and will have to work on that skill), but it being late at night and pinning it out would take hours (well, at least 1.5 hours, plus I’m not sure where I’ll block it just yet…) I decided to do it on the weekend.
The next night I started experiencing knitting withdrawal so rummaged around in my collection of current projects. Most of what’s there are unfinished winter projects: Nordic Mittens, Autumn socks… but I re-discovered Hoshiko from Rowan’s Bamboo Tape Collection, which I’d also started in March and which is surprisingly close to being completed. So close, in fact, that yesterday I finished knitting the body. I would have kept going, but I discovered it needs a 5 mm crotchet hook as it has a deep crocheted edging. I, unfortunately, do not have that size hook and so could not go much further since yarn stores don’t tend to be open at 11 pm on a Saturday evening.
So, I pulled out some yarn I bought last spring and started working on the bottom band for Bella Blouse. Did two repeats before calling it a night.
Just goes to show you can’t stop the knitting force. It’s got a life of it’s own. This is why we have stashes and several projects on the go at once. It’s so you never, ever, get stuck without a project!

Wedding Shawl

“The” shawl to date. I’ve completed 1.25 repeats. It’s a 40 row repeat over some 125 sts plus and additional 6 -12 on each side for the edging. I will do 16 repeats, then put these stitches on a holder and repeat the process again. Each half will measure approximately 40 inches. When they’re both done, I will weave the two halves together. That join will form the center, so that both sides fall to the front allowing the pattern to be the same on both sides. The pattern is a one way pattern, which means if I don’t knit it two halves the way I’ve described, you’d have one straight end (like the one you see here on the needles) and one with the lovely scallops, like you see at the lower end in the picture. The idea is to have scallops at both ends. I’m not sure I’ve explained that well, but I hope it’s clear. I must say I’m happy with how it’s turning out. I find there’s always a certain period of uncertainty about a lace or cable project until the pattern actually makes itself visible.

I do love watching the pattern emerge: I think that’s a big part of what I find so enjoyable about knitting lace or cables or colourwork. Seeing the pattern take shape and then grow out of simple manipulations of those loops of yarn held on a pointy stick just never fail to fascinate and enchant me. We do these things, we human beings. We take rock and find ways to drag it about, to cut into it and shape it and pile it one on top of the other in majestic columns, graceful arches… and we take colour, add it to various medium so it’s smearable and then we do just that, we smear it onto canvas, wood, and other surfaces so we can express our thoughts and feelings and observations of the world around us. Knitting is like that, for me. It’s the looping of long string over point sticks, and manipulating those loops in ways that represent waves or sky or simply just re-create sensations of calm (like the rippling cables in the sweater-wrap I knit earlier this winter) or, like this shawl, representations of core elements like leaves or waves, and in a medium that is light and airy, and blending those things together so that we feel both grounded and elevated when looking at it.
I subscribe too much to a knitted object, perhaps. But then again, maybe I don’t. The yarn is so fine (lace-weight, baby alpaca) it sometimes feels like I’m knitting a frothy cloud, and until I block it, that’s pretty much what it looks like. But when I smooth it out so the pattern becomes visible, I see leaves (it is called Autumn arbour, and so is meant to evoke images of falling leaves) but it also reminds me of waves, perhaps because the wedding I am knitting it for will be held on a ship in the Halifax Harbour. Weddings are, by definition, frothy and fairy tale events. But they are also foundations for many families and for our society.
I wasn’t thinking all this when I started knitting this shawl, nor am I always thinking about it while I’m knitting. These thoughts are too weighty and would add a heaviness to both the process and the shawl that neither can bear. But every once in a while, when I pause to look at it, these are the sensations that hoover in the very back of my mind, and while I won’t often pull them to the forefront in the same way I have now, I’m glad they’re there.