Train buffs–and people who watch long, involved television documentaries–know this picture. It’s the historic 1869 meeting of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads in Promontory, Utah–the moment when America was connected by a transcontinental railroad. Finally! A quick way to Napa Valley!
Oho, dear friends, we made a little history last night when West met East:
You can practically smell the coal smoke! Can you hear the plaintive violin solo? Where’s Ken Burns?
This shawl/scarf/stole/schmatte is coming along. The two halves, 17 repeats each of a 12-row pattern, are ready for their union via an 80-stitch grafting.
A word about grafting. I personally like the grafting–it’s good and humbling. The process of weaving a row of knit stitches by using a tapestry needle and two needles while constantly muttering “knit/drop, purl, purl/drop, knit” will make you thank Jehovah that regular plain old knitting is nothing like this.
Eunny’s shawl/stole/scarf/schmattah is all over the Web, if you’re inclined to poke around. There’s excellent hand-holding over at the Knitter’s Review forum. You can see finished ones here, here, and here. My Fashionable Life’s Anna created a cashmere one (and if you want to see swell knitting day in, day out, visit Anna often).
Now, why would a person would graft two pieces of shawl together, rather than make one long piece? The grafting means that the lace pattern goes in the same direction on both sides when the shawl is worn. All the waves wave down, instead of the waves on one side waving up. Those Shetland Islanders were the ones who got all wadded up about this issue. You put me on an island for long enough, and I’ll start obsessing about the direction of my lace pattern, too.
Several infidels over at the Knitter’s Review forum decided that rather than face into the hell that is grafting, they would simply make one superlong piece, with waves waving up and down all willynilly.
I can’t really blame them, though I’m shocked that they would turn their backs on 3,000 years of Shetland Island knitting history. The thing is, I’m not persuaded that this grafted line is so great. Don’t get me wrong–I love this pattern. But this bit of knitting looks like somebody was watching an Andre Agassi match for too long and shifted to stockinette. FURTHERmore, the lace pattern doesn’t connect in a seamless way (squint at the picture and you can see the wonkiness of it), and now I’ve got a line of grafting running down my neck. As if I don’t have enough problems with my neck already.
Having grafted this thing together, I do feel intense kinship with my Shetland Island ancestors. (Surely I have some.) And it’s a blessed relief that I’ll be able to look down at this shawl and not get seasick from the waves lurching all whichway.
And the fact is, the grafting isn’t all that noticeable if you mudge the scarf up the way it will be when it’s worn.
My next moment of bonding with my Shetland Island ancestors will be in the upcoming episode: The Border. [Cue plaintive violin playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.]