Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Doilies are Something

Someday, you may come across a little crumpled lacy thing.  Maybe you will be digging through the family cedar chest, looking for those special tea towels, and you'll find this weird little curled up lace thing.

You may not know who made it.  But you know it's something.

Long ago, someone finished washing the dishes, put some quiet music on the stereo, and put on her glasses.  She turned on the lamp nearest her chair, and lifted the piece up close to her face to look at the spot where she left off.  Then she pulled a few yards of string from her knitting bag, and knit a few stitches.  She paused and checked the new stitches to make sure they looked right.  Then she knit a few more stitches until she got to the end of a repeat.  The doily looked as it should, so she kept going.  It was going to set on that end table near the sofa.  It would look nice there, under the figurine that she had brought back from Italy.

She kept going until she finished it.  It was lovely, one of the nicest doilies she had made.  She put it in her ironing basket and thought she might block it on Saturday.

But that was long ago, and the doily ended up at the bottom of the family cedar chest. And it stayed there in a crumpled ball, for years.  How many times was the chest opened and closed over the decades?  Hundreds of times?  Yet no one paid any mind to the curly, lacy things at the bottom.  After all, they were nothing -- just some old crumpled up doilies.

The fancy lace tablecloths and matching napkins that were the pride of the German great aunts were passed down with great reverence to the next generation, who remembered the aunts taking them out every year for holiday dinners.  Those stately table linens were sent out to the cleaners after each use and put away lovingly to await the next ceremonial opening of the cedar chest.  Those were something.

But the doilies remained, untouched and unloved for decades -- until someone looked at them and said, those are something.  And then they were blocked and starched and loved.  Yes, they are loved.  Doilies are something.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sonoma Shawl - Freia Fine Handpaints

It's been a while since I've posted anything to this blog. I seem to post everything on Facebook these days.  But here's something new and knitted by me for Freia Fine Handpaints.  Tina asked me to knit the sample for her upcoming show.  I always love her yarns, and this laceweight is no exception.

The yarn is Ombre Lace, and the colorway is Grapevine.  It suits the lovely Sonoma Shawl, designed by Tina Whitmore for Freia Fine Handpaints.  I used a size US3 Addi turbo lace needle and gauge was just right.

The yarn has a little nylon in it, which would make it a snappy choice for sweaters, socks and gloves, yet, it also blocks beautifully for more elegant designs like this one.  You can judge it for yourself.  The stitches hold their shape well -- if you're a lace knitter like I am, you know how important it is to be able to control the size and shape of every stitch.

Just before I blocked, I dunked it in lukewarm water with a drop of Dawn dish soap for a couple of minutes, and then rinsed with water of the same temperature.  The colors did not run at all, which is quite an accomplishment considering the intensity of the dyes. Very impressive.