Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spring is in the Air and a Middle-Aged Woman's Thoughts Turn to Prom

At long last, it seems that spring is beginning to peek through the gray, rainy days here in Oregon. The sun shines from time to time and there's a scent of all things green beginning to pervade the air here. Only one thought can enter the mind of a middle-aged woman when spring pokes through. Prom time!

Okay. Not really. I had no interest or thoughts of prom even when I was a teenager. I was one of the few girls in my high school who chose not to go to my prom. (Perhaps that's because my boyfriend at the time was a stockbroker in his mid-twenties who probably would not have enjoyed a high school prom much, but that's another story altogether and so far in the past that it seems like another lifetime.)

My mind is on prom time because my oldest niece has her prom coming up in May. Needless to say, during my visit to see my sister and her family in January I found that prom was a topic of constant conversation amongst my three nieces. At the time I didn't think of it, but after finishing knitting the Faux Russian Stole a week or so ago, it suddenly occurred to me that perhaps my niece would like a shawl to wear to her prom. I promptly e-mailed to find out and indeed she jumped on the offer.

And so, after having only just completed the seemingly never-ending Faux Russian Stole, I am already knee-deep in another lace shawl project. And this one has a DEADLINE! The prom is May 18th, which means I really need it done by the end of April so I can ship it off to her and still leave her enough time to find an alternative if she doesn't like the way the shawl works with her dress.

I chose the Print O' The Wave Stole from Eunny Jang's site. It's a free pattern (you'll find the link on the right side of her site) and just lovely. If you haven't discovered Eunny Jang's site yet, you are in for an amazing treat. When I first visited her site 9 months ago or so, I was nothing short of stunned by her work. Looking at the photos of her knitting - particularly her own designs - was to me like gazing at a work of art in a museum. She is extraordinarly talented and her taste is impeccable. Her designs are intricate and detailed, yet have a classic simplicity that appeals enormously to me. Although her designs have a classic and timeless feel, there is also a modern and innovative feeling to them. I've been visiting her site regularly since discovering it, watching her grow in popularity, reading about published patterns and book deals coming her way, and then earlier this month learning that she has now been named the new editor of Interweave Knits! I'm so excited to see how her fingerprint will translate to IK. If you haven't visited Eunny's site before, set aside a nice chunk of time to explore, go get yourself a cup of coffee, sit down and prepare for a wonderful experience. Go to the links at the left and scroll through her posts by date and you'll see an endless array of the most amazing work.

Alright. Enough hero worship from me. On to more about the Print O' The Waves Stole for my niece.

The stole is knit beginning with the center motif. The pattern is very simple to follow, as it's only a 12 row repeat and each row of 80 stitches includes four repeats of the same stitch pattern. This is infinitely easier to follow than the 81 stitch X 96 row pattern repeat of the shawl I just finished. The chart for that shawl looked like schematics for the space shuttle!

I'm knitting the Print O' The Waves Stole in my FF Laceweight Merino in the Hush colorway. My niece's dress is an ice blue color and so the gentle, slightly silvery gray of the Hush yarn should work nicely.

The center motif pattern is knit first, with two pieces knit separately and then grafted together at the center back of the shawl. It's done this way so that the two sides of the shawl will flow in the same direction when worn, creating mirror images of one another. I cast on for the shawl one week ago today and I've already finished one side of the center motif and just cast on for the second side. Here's side one:

It may look small now, but I think the size will work out fine. It's curled on the edges in the photo, so it looks a bit smaller than it is. Once the two center motif pieces are grafted together, I'll need to pick up stitches all the way around the edges and knit a few rows of an eyelet pattern for the inner border. Then, the outer edging will be added, knit in horizontal rows with each each row joined to a live stitch from the inner border. This will add a few inches to each side of the shawl and then, of course, blocking will further increase the size.

Here's a closeup of the pattern detail:

I'm really excited about this project. I haven't knit anything but a little test piece with my Laceweight Merino yet and I find that I absolutely love it! It's just the weight that I like in a laceweight: definitely a "laceweight" but also not a cobweb. It has just enough weight that knitting with it is a breeze. I have none of that feeling that I'm creating "The Emperor's New Clothes" as can sometimes be the case with a cobweb yarn. The finished shawl will be light and airy, but not impractically diaphanous.

That's all I have to share with you today. I actually finished another pair of fingerless mitts that turned out very nicely, but I packaged them up and shipped them off to their intended recipient without thinking of taking a photo for you. Ah well. Not to worry. I think fingerless mitts will take the place of socks for me for a while, with a pair almost always in progress. I have a list of folks I'd like to gift a pair, so there will be more coming soon.

Everyone have a fabulous day and get some knitting done!


~Tonia~ said...

Oh I have been to Eunny's site and she is an amazing knitter/designer! I can't wait to see what she does with Interweave.

You are really cooking on that shaw. I is going to be so beautiful with her dress.

peaknit said...

Love this shawl - I really want to mkae it - your neice is so lucky!! And your yarn looks awesome!

Kitty said...

Wow. I just looked at the shawl on Eunny's site. How beautiful! I hope your niece appreciates such a precious gift. You rock. Hope to see you at the FH today!

sprite said...

You rock as an aunt. Your niece is a lucky, lucky girl!