Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lacis: 1st Meeting of the Lace Knitters Group

I made another visit to Lacis on Saturday, July 7, to attend the first meeting of the newly formed Lace Knitters Group. My knitting pal Nina and I met at BART and took the train under the Bay, and got off at Ashby Station in Berkeley.

We got there a little early (the group meets at 1:00 pm on the first Saturday of the month), so we detoured to the funky Berkeley Flea Market at the corner of Ashby and Adeline. I picked up a large African basket. Little did I know that I would need it to take home my loot!

We went across the street to Lacis and found that we were surrounded by lace knitting as soon as we walked in the door. I noticed some magnificent examples that had not been displayed when I visited in June. Lace doilies, Shetland shawls, Orenburg shawls, a beautiful baby gown, and so many other lovely things were hung on every available wall.

A large table center called Krokus caught my attention in the front display area. It was mounted vertically on a black backdrop which showed the fine stitch detail. This had to have been knitted with size 100 or finer thread. In the next room, the glass display case had changed its theme. Instead of the beaded bags that I saw in June, lace gloves and hankies and doilies and baby things filled the case.

I was pleased to meet Jules Kliot once again, the wonderful owner of Lacis. I could tell he was excited to see the number of lace knitters walking through the door, chattering and ooo-ing all about the store. His smile is infectious. All of the knitters were greeted by the enthusiastic Mary Frances Wogec, lace aficionado and glorious leader of the Lace Knitters Group. After we sat down and introduced ourselves, the knitters produced examples of their latest work.

I finally met the notorious Lacefreak (Jane) and her sister, and saw some of Jane's extraordinary work. I have enough trouble keeping my mind on one or two lace projects, but Jane seems to have no problem knitting several big, complicated and fabulous lace patterns simultaneously. I mean to say, she can multitask like nobody's business.

Now, I'm not the most experienced lace knitter, but I have a good number of projects under my belt. I have to say that I was most impressed with the quality of work that these ladies and one gentleman brought to the table. Throughout all of our jabbering, Mary Frances was gracious and encouraging, and she even suggested a doily for our first group project.

The book Lavori Artistici a Calza #11 is an Italian magazine with some lovely doilies and other lace projects like baby bonnets, lace curtains and handkerchief edgings. We all agreed to take Mary Frances' suggestion and will be knitting doily #66, from inside the back cover.

She will help us by preparing a translation of the Italian instructions. I purchased the book as well as a ball of DMC Cebelia #30 in a rusty-gold color for my doily. After making my Lyra, I have every type of size 0 needle, so I am all set.

In the photo below is a cone of Aegean Blue Zephyr wool-silk that I already owned, as well as some baby blue beads from Beadissimo in San Francisco. I hope to make the Mystery Stole #3 with those, but I've got a few other projects to finish first. Next to these is my new ball of Cebelia for the doily. Lacis has a fantastic selection of Cebelia and other threads in a multitude of colors. Nina also picked up a cone of Zephyr at Lacis in an ethereal misty green.

The other book I purchased is the one I mentioned in my previous post, Knitted Lace Designs of the Modern Mode, Book 1 by Kazuko Ichida. The book is entirely in Japanese, but Lacis provides a thoughtful explanation and translation pamphlet in English by Mary Frances. All of the designs are charted. After leafing through the advance copy in June, I knew I would eventually come back to purchase the book.

Several Herbert Niebling and Christine Duchrow designs are included, although the individual patterns are not identified in English. I can provide an example here, but I am by no means an expert. The following three doilies appeared in three different publications in three different time periods.

The first photo is from the new Knitted Lace Designs of the Modern Mode, Book 1 and is identified as #25.

Compare it to the doily in the second photo from Burda's first lace special edition magazine of August 1965, which appears to be knitted in a finer thread with an additional tier of flowers.

And finally, the third photo is from the book Strick-Lehrbuch #603/114, published 1983 by Verlag Aenne Burda.

If you are familiar with Niebling's and Duchrow's work, I'm sure you will find many designs that look familiar in the new Lacis book. I found so many of the designs appealing. In particular, these made the list of doilies I would like to someday make. I may have to quit my job to have time to make all of these!

The last thing I purchased was a cleaning agent called "Restoration" that Lacis recommends for cleaning antique linens and lace.

I have a collection of hand embroidered linens that my grandmother embellished for her wedding trousseau in 1917. I also have some lovely doilies, chair sets, tablecloths and bedspreads that could all do with a little freshening. I am hoping that this product will help remove some of the yellowish spots that have appeared on some of them.

Last but not least, as Nina and I left the shop with our loot, I looked at the front window display and saw ... my blog post of June 30 was printed out and posted in Lacis' window.


I was so excited I snapped a photo.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Midsummer Night Shawl

It's the Fourth of July, and I'm in a little coastside town near San Francisco called Pacifica. Pacifica is known for its foggy days. In fact, we even have a Fog Fest every September, a street festival dedicated to wet mist, with sand castles, children's games, food, fun and a local drink called a Fog Cutter that would burn the chill off of anyone.

But I was born in San Francisco, which has its own share of foggy summer days.

As anyone who grew up in City knows, the number of times the fireworks have been clearly seen over San Francisco Bay on the Fourth of July can be counted on one or maybe two hands.

(As I get older, I have to add a few more fingers.)

Where I grew up, on Russian Hill, every Independence Day we would walk to the top of the crooked street, at the apex of Hyde and Lombard Streets, and look down the hill toward Alcatraz, sticking up like an umbrella in the cool summer Bay tea.

Typically, we would see the fog and a few glowing spots of color. We would shake our heads, zip up our parkas, and walk back down Hyde Street to Swenson's for an ice cream cone.

Our weather ranges from cool to cooler on most summer nights. The misty fog spreads inland from the Pacific Coast in the late afternoon, cuddling the City with its damp white blanket. This may seem
romantic when dining at the Carnelian Room, 52 stories above the Financial District, where you can see only fluffy mist beneath and blue sky above you.

Or, it may seem ominous and exhilerating as you perch at the edge of a cliff at Land's End and watch the creeping white tufts crawl through the Golden Gate, the bridge perm
eating the fog into white tendrils that merge together over the Bay, and finally climb the hills and drift into the valleys where they dissipate into nothingness.

We natives can feel it out there.
We can smell the saltiness in the afternoon wind. No one where we live has air conditioning.

Cool summer weather calls for a lovely midweight shawl -- something to wrap around the shoulders at the first sign of foreboding afternoon breezes.

A few months ago, I began corresponding with Margaret at Inspirations Yarn about the possibility of test knitting her latest shawl pattern.

I had sampled some of her beautiful hand-dyed yarn and loved the quality and her color sense. She sent me the pattern and yarn, and I got to work. I was very pleased with the clarity of her writing.

The Midsummer Night Shawl is knitted in an Elfin Lace pattern that is straightforward and somewhat easy to memorize.

I would call this an intermediate lace pattern, although beginners would be able to tackle this shawl while learning a few new tricks, such as knitting on a border or chart reading. The pattern is written out as well as charted.

The yarn color is Heirloom Rose, a gorgeous blend of rose, peach, and pink that blend together in bright harmony. The colors would compliment any skin tone, and I love the way the lace pattern shows off the yarn and the design equally well.