“I just want more of her.” A wonderful piece on the late lamented food writer, Laurie Colwin.

Late-Night Thoughts While Blocking a Shawl

eunny28.jpg
Dear Kay,
I finished the Print o’ the Wave stole! Snipsnap in a jiffy I cranked the final foot of the border. Something 18 stitches wide just isn’t that much knitting, you know?
This little project has been a revelation–if you do 90% of a project, get disgusted, put it away for eight weeks, then return to it, the whole thing seems like a PRESENT. You mean, if I just do this crummy little border, then I’ll get a whole entire SHAWL? For FREE?
So Hubbo was all tucked in for the night, cruising Tivo for some late night TV snackage, and there I was on the floor, in the gloom, lining up this:
blockingboard.jpg
It’s a testament to the state of the union that Hubbo puts up with this sort of thing. It was also fortunate that there was some tasty fresh Colbert Report in the hopper to distract him while I basically went into a blocking frenzy last night. I couldn’t wait until the morning. Not a chance. I was all Rumpelstiltskin on this thing.
You’ll note the Bonus Zone I had to add to the blocking board. The Print o’ the Wave turned out to be pretty long, but I didn’t know how long until I soaked the shawl until it was a blechy pile then laid the creepy wet snake on the floor.
eunny35.jpg
This really is the glory moment of a lace project. If you’ve never made anything with lace, oh, for heaven’s sake, get on it. Just looking at this picture gives me a shivery, tingly, lick-a-9-volt-battery feeling.
Before:
eunny26.jpg
After:
eunny27.jpg
I was dreading the moment when the beginning and end of the border met. High Noon was definitely a showdown, and it is basically a mess:
eunny25.jpg
I grafted them together like a blended family and told them not to be ugly to each other. The fact that there are two different dye lots, the fact that I ended up four rows shy of a full repeat . . . if we all keep moving, maybe nobody’ll notice how weird it all is.
In the end, I look at the corner of this shawl, and I cannot believe I made that myself. How did the border go around the corner like that? How did the columns of stitches end up swooshing around each other? When I first started knitting, I would look at something like this and shake my head. Having just finished it, I’m still shaking my head. I don’t know how I did it.
I’ll give it a swishy modeling after I let it dry for a long time.
Thank you, Eunny, for this lurvly pattern.
Love,
Ann
PS The following is so technical that only the future Print o’ the Wave knitters will want to read it. But if you’re in that group, this is SOLID GOLD, people.
Top 10 Things I Learned While Making the Print o’ the Wave
1. My Specs
Yarn: Blue Heron Mercerized Cotton, laceweight. 1,050 yards, 2 skeins. Really, it was more like 1 skein plus 80 yards of the second skeins, an expensive BUMMER when a skein costs $39.
Size 4 (3.5 mm) needles, including a 100 cm circular for doing the border
Finished size: 27″ x 66″ (68.5 x 167.5 cm)
2. How Long It Took
The First Era: August 25-October 2, 2006
Slough of Despond: October 2-November 29
The Second Era (aka “The Brief Era Not So Much An Era, Actually”): November 29-December 1
3. Yarn Pensées
The wisdom of using Blue Heron mercerized cotton for a lace shawl has been questioned. OK, it was me questioning myself, but still. Throughout this project I kept thinking of the word gossamer, which Eunny used in her description of her pattern. This shawl will drape, but it won’t “shiver and float in a draft.” I think this pattern would really shine in the cobwebby yarns she suggests. My next lace project will likely involve something really, truly airy.
4.The Pattern
DO NOT FAIL to print this in color. I printed it on my B & W and did not see the big red box which indicates the pattern repeat. Extremely crabby to discover this many hours later. At least mark the red box if you have a B & W printer. And the bracket under the repeat is not quite wide enough. Eunny writes, “The way the pattern repeat for the body is indicated can be a little confusing. The pattern repeat is outlined in RED — though the bracket might look a little short depending on how you look at it, and the gridlines on the chart might confuse you, pay attention only to the RED lines for the correct repeat.” Having written a few patterns (MUCH less complex than this one, mind you), I have total sympathy with the challenge of writing a pattern.
5. Charts
The two lace patterns are so much easier if you follow the chart. I’m a visual person, so I can’t imagine doing a lace pattern without one. IMHO. Just sayin. FWIW. 2 cents.
6. Chart Correction
As written, Chart B for the edging contains an error. The second-to-last stitch of rows 9, 11, 13 and 15 should be marked as a k2tog.
7. The Border
Takes as long as the middle part.
8. Yes, You Have to Do the Border.
9. Grafting the Center Seam
It’s a badge of Shetland lace knitting honor to knit the center in two parts, then graft them together so that the pattern flows downward when you wear it. But honestly, I recommend that you dispense with the grafted center seam. The wavy pattern looks pretty in either direction, and I think the seam disrupts the pattern significantly. Also: the supersmart Michelle jooged the pattern a half repeat to make the jog less noticeable–you can see her results at her blog. Brilliant!
10. Blocking is the most fun you can have at 11 o’clock at night while your husband is watching The Colbert Report. Blocking while listening to The Colbert Report is the most fun you can have, period, unless you’re up to something else altogether, in which case you probably shouldn’t have pins around at all.

Tags: ,

35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. It’s beautiful! I started this shawl…. but frogged it. I’ll try it again once the Christmas knitting is done!

  2. Ann, you are superfantastic. You did it! You are amazing to me! Even more now than after the weaving in of ends. Blocking is beautiful, the shawl is grand, and I’m glad that after all that, you still wouldn’t have grafted the center. I think that way, but then when I do things my way (the shortcut, the don’t I know better than the pattern-writer way), it’s a disaster and boy was I ever wrong. Not that I fix it or anything. Or stop changing really good things to ruin them.

  3. Ooooooo! Ahhhhhhh!
    I am in awe.

  4. Just beautiful! Excellent procrastinating, and even better knitting/finishing/blocking!

  5. It looks FABOO! And I love the idea of putting big tricky knitting away when you get close to finishing and then treating youraelf with a zippy little finish-up. Absolute genius. Sadly, I have been doing that with little not-so-tricky knitting and I end up just feeling lazy.

  6. so freaking pretty. i kinda wish you could have waited a couple weeks to finish it though — only so i’d already be done with my paltry pile of holiday knits and i could make my own immediately. excellent work, lady! xo.

  7. So pretty. I always wonder how well varigated yarn works for lace, if the colors will compete visually with the lace, but your shawl looks great. The Print o’the Wave shawl is now in the queue, behind a bazillion other projects.

  8. Instead of grafting do you think it would work to pick up the porvisional cast on and knit the second half from there?

  9. E to the M–
    Cool idea! As the pattern is written, you end up with three rows of stockinette in the middle of the shawl. It’s quite noticeable.
    If you do as you say, you’d have only one row of knit stitches (the first provisional cast on row), because you’d eliminate the grafting row and also the second provisional cast on row that you do for the second half of the center piece.
    And if you began the stitch pattern at a better place than specified in the pattern, it would end up a better-fitting join. GO FOR IT! I want to see this!
    Thanks for the idea!

  10. E to the M–
    I did it that way and it looks awesome. I had to go through and correct the tension after I had knit the first row or two from the picked up cast on, but I like how it looks a lot better.
    Also, this pattern looks great in the round (for sleeves) and the edging gives the sleeves a nice bell shape.

  11. Bee-you-ti-ful! I bow down in honor of the Goddess of the Waves.

  12. Gawjus!

  13. as for the different dye lots….my mother always said, “you’ll never see it on a trottin’ horse!” so…get yurself a pony, babe. the shawl-ness is truly a breath of fresh air. A++++

  14. Ohhh, totally and fully lace-wonderful! And I get that tingly feeling when blocking out the lace projects too. LOL

  15. It’s really wonderful, and I think has a slightly different (but more oceany) effect in the cotton yarn you chose. Bravo!

  16. I think I am the smarty.
    Your stole is lovely.

  17. Wow, wow, wow! Super, Ann! You did a magnificent job and I LOVE it in the gorgeous colorway. Who needs floaty gossamer, anyway? We want a picture of you, the shawl and (ahem) some killer shoes! Got any?

  18. It’s beautiful! I haven’t tried lace but with your tips, makes me wanna. I love looking at Eunny’s magnificent creations but never believe I can re-create them. I salute you!

  19. Delurking to say I made this as a dress scarf (narrower: 3 repeats) and continuous (without the center grafting) using Sundara’s Silk Lace on 3.5mm needles and it is beautiful! And I think it just might “shimmer and float in a draft”……. Lovely pattern and gorgeous silk lace. Am making another for a gift.

  20. The shawl is gorgeous, the dye lots blend beautifully, and you did a fine job grafting. Wear it in good health!
    Thanks for the tips for those of us who plan to knit our own. Mine will be in Sea Silk in the blues/greens colorway. Looking at yours, I know it will be beautiful.

  21. I love the shawl – and it may well go on my list of things to do.
    BTW, I did the exact same thing with a sweater earlier this year. got sick of Audrey’s 2×2 ribbing while doing the sleeves and put it away. Pulled it out months later only to realize the only knitting left was 10 rows on the final sleeve and the lace edging. I was done in less than a day.

  22. Where will you wear it first?
    It is astounding.
    Lace is overwhelming.
    Back to socks.
    Really, Ann,it is marvelous.
    wow.

  23. Gorgeous. And for what it’s worth (which might not be much after my next comment) I can’t tell that’s 2 different dye lots.
    Oh my. Let’s just say I read “Yarn Pensées” wrong and leave it at that. *laugh*

  24. It’s a lovely shawl. I think we have to run through something a few times before we can get to the level of having it work out perfectly. Expecting it to work out exactly right the first few times is just setting ourselves up for a fall.
    For myself, I want to try making top down sweaters. So I’m doing a draft sweater in a plain pattern, with an inexpensive yarn. I just know this sweater isn’t going to come out exactly the way I want it, but that’s okay because I will be learning lots for my next attempt.

  25. congratulations it’s soo beautiful!
    I am attempting a Swallowtail right now, but I am
    quite the lacetard..

  26. It’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to finish the holiday knitting and get on with the lace!

  27. A stunningly beautiful shawl. Really a most gorgeous piece of knitting. So worth the angst. Wear it with pride.

  28. This post of yours is quite timely, as I’d just printed the pattern a couple days ago, and had no idea about the errata. It’s very helpful to have your feedback, especially about the seam in the middle. I think I’ll probably avoid that, myself, and just knit it all in one direction.
    Yours turned out lovely, and I will probably do mine in similar colors (my favorite!).

  29. I’m a bad girl and didn’t bother reading anyone’s comments. I just want to say – I’m lovin’ the blockin board, big time. I don’t block very often, but mostly I soak and spread it out on the floor & try to keep the dog off of it.
    Got to find one of these mystical blocking boards, that has the grid on it – straight lines baby!!

  30. Wow, that’s gorgeous!
    As someone intending to knit this very soon, could you please comment on the trickiness of the pattern? An out of 10 rating would be helpful so I know if I’ll be over my head ort not!

  31. aaaah you did it. You just convinced me to do the border.
    @ The Skirt:
    If you have knitted some lace before, I’d rate this a fairly easy pattern. The trickiness for me lies in the border.
    I’m not grafting it either. I did do a provisional crochet cast on. I can always start knitting from that side later.

  32. Wow Ann, that is truly beautiful. I like the idea of a cotton shawl–a little more weight will keep you warmer on the cool nights!

  33. it is indeed beautiful. the pattern and your colbert report blocked version. thanks for the pointers.

  34. Oh my word— I love the variegate!
    I finished mine last month- used Knitpicks Options in #5 and Knitpicks Shadow in Vineyard … have to say I had a moment of “Did I make that?” too;)
    Mine is pictured here: http://nottinbutknittin.blogspot.com/2006/11/secret-pal-9-thank-you-wow.html

  35. This looks awesome! May I use a photo and link here in a reader gallery?