Wednesday, October 25, 2006

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  • A - Gasp! - Swatch

    If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.
    -Lewis Carroll

    Apparently I've been getting a little bit of a reputation around blogland as an anti-swatcher. Not that I'm naming any names or any thing (cough, Laura), but I'm about to show you all my only exception to "Swatches Lie." Stay close.

    You've heard distant rumblings about this chuppah for the flitgirl that has been floating around in our collective imagination for many months and for which I have procured two whole cones of Zephyr. Now, flitgirl and I go way back to when she made one of my library books overdue in 6th grade, and she's one of the best kind of friends - the kind that have an unlimited faith in your abilities. And because she's one of the best kind of friends, I only grumbled a little when she told me that she wants this certain frame for her chuppah, necessitating a piece of lace - are you sitting down for this? - 8 feet square. She has no doubt whatsover that the next 8 months, 1 week, and 6 days is completely sufficient for me to design, swatch, and knit this modern masterpiece of lace. So I figured I should start.

    You'll never guess what I discovered - This Swatch Did Not Lie. Look at it. Can't you see? Plain as the nose on your face, it told us all that these lace patterns were not a good combination.

    I am completely and utterly sold on the center pattern - Rose Trellis Lace from Barbara Walker's Treasury. I'd always admired it, but I fell completely in love with it when I made the Rose Trellis Stole last spring. With a 44 row repeat, it doesn't really get boring, but there's enough repetition that it isn't too challenging either. And it reminds me of English rose gardens. Those of you lucky enough to know the bride personally can attest that it suits her delightfully.

    My original plan was to be more clever than I was when I knit the first chuppah (which I constructed by knitting the center and then trying to figure out what to do about a border), and to cast on for the center, the inner border (the "matting" so-to-speak), and the outer border (the "frame") all at the same time, and then go back and un-do my provisional cast on and extend the two borders around the top and bottom. Following?

    But after a solid day of swatching (this was actually a couple of weeks ago), I couldn't come up with anything. Clearly, neither of the two I had originally envisioned were going to work. The Rose Leaves are just too open and linear and don't provide a strong enough border for the fairly solid trellis in the center. And the scroll/vine thing? Clearly not meant to be for this project. The triple eyelets are too open, the scroll edging too ill defined, and overall there was just too much going on. The central Rose Trellis pattern is much more geometic than I had originally given it credit for being, and so the plan that worked so well in my head just didn't translate into the swatch.

    So I dragged all my lace knitting books out onto the carpet, paged through my binders of patterns, and developed a new plan. To wit:

    The inner border needs to be one of two things: 1. an allover small-caliber lace pattern (like bead stitch perhaps - the only photo I can find of it)2. a solid background with some diagonal lines or diamonds or something in the center of it all (there's a great example in Knitters' Best Shawls and Stoles - the Shetland Lace Baby Blanket)

    And the outer border? I'd like to echo the eyelet roses of the central pattern with something eyelet-y, and I'd like a pointed or scalloped edge. Wide English Lace from Homework is a contender, but I've learned my lesson that things do not always look in real life as they appear in my head. The grand realization I had a la chuppah structure was that for the inner border as I envision it, I need to pick up all those stitches and knit it around - precisely what I was trying to avoid. The things we do for love . . .

    Because we all know that when it comes time to settle on my borders, I'll be doing an awful lot of swatching.


    Blogger Jenn said...

    Egads. I wouldn't even have a clue where to begin. I am certain that it will be lovely!

    10/25/2006 4:24 AM  
    Blogger Liz K. said...

    Thanks for thinking out loud. I am a new lace knitter and appreciate a window into your evaluations of how lace patterns work together.

    10/25/2006 5:56 AM  
    Blogger Dorothy said...

    Yikes! I can't even begin to think about how many stitches picking up around an 8 feet piece would give you. You really must love this friend! We all will be watching with great interest. On top of your current schedule, you've got your work cut out for you.

    10/25/2006 6:47 AM  
    Blogger christine said...

    Oh, dearie - I've been trying to design a little lacey number too..........complicated, isn't it? Your's will be gorgeous!

    10/25/2006 8:52 AM  
    Blogger Melissa said...

    I am truly sorry to hear about your grandfather. It is nice to get to know them a little through their photographs, though isnt it?

    BTW, I am not much of a swatcher, either!

    10/25/2006 12:00 PM  
    Blogger Nonnahs said...

    OMG, 8 feet of lace...I sit,in awe. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    10/25/2006 3:26 PM  
    Blogger Meg said...

    All I can say is good luck and have fun!

    10/25/2006 4:21 PM  
    Anonymous Kathleen said...

    Wow. Goregous! Did you go to Rhinebeck??

    10/26/2006 6:35 AM  
    Blogger Stephanie said...

    The difference here is that you're swatching to figure out what patterns work together, not to figure out your gauge. Therefore, the lieing is minimal. Oh, and I love that you used "to whit" - cracked me up.

    10/26/2006 10:25 AM  
    Anonymous Rachel said...

    She makes one of your library books overdue, and she gets a chuppah!?! What will you do for someone who actually returned one of your library books on time, I'd like to know?

    I don't know that I followed along with all the lace bits, but lace puuuuurrrrdy.

    10/28/2006 2:33 PM  

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