Friday, June 05, 2009

Are they nupps? Or acne?

Knitting lace, I have noticed, is like raising a child. You begin the undertaking with an equal mixture of trepidation, excitement, and anticipation. About halfway through, it's a bedraggled and incoherent mess. It's not at all what you had in mind. You would throw it out–but you've already invested so much time. So you keep working, determined that perseverance and discipline will win out. When it casts off into independence, you feel proud, though you know perfectly well where every fault and fudge is located.

I've been knitting lace today–the Leaf and Nupp Shawl from Nancy Bush's lovely book.

Stole Progress

Maybe my lace parenting skills are improving, because this piece got through its awkward phase with a minimum of trauma. Indeed it seems to have raised itself, like one of those Victorian heroines who blossom into spunky, swanlike maidenhood in spite of having been tossed out of a slum and into the streets at age four with nothing but a crust of bread and a button hook.

When I picked it up this morning, I did a quick count of repeats and realized I'm only two away from finishing the center. This seems impossible. I've given it no special attention, as it has no deadline. I've knit a row here or there, in odd moments, usually with my mind on something else. I wondered whether Dolores might have been helping it along secretly, but she seldom does good deeds without trumpeting. (Last time she removed her dirty underwear from the floor without being told, she asked me to hire a skywriter.)

It's not quite ready for the debutante ball, mind you. A review of the instructions reminds me that there's a whole lot of picking-up to do around the long edges, and that's followed a border knit in long (long, long) rounds from the center outwards.

So. Will this shawl marry a rich-but-gentle peer of the realm and retire to a quiet life in the country? Or will it perish at the hands of Jack the Ripper after stumbling out of an opium den?

Time will tell.

63 comments:

Soosan said...

It looks very good Franklin! Recently the lace bug started biting on me. Not quite as easy as my first scarf;)Ripping out several times before getting a good run for it, doesn't show up in any pattern that I have seen, but it seems to be necessary when first starting lacey knitting, IMHO. You inspire me. :D

One Sock Short said...

Seriously Franklin, you are amazing. "I've knit a row here or there, in odd moments, usually with my mind on something else." How many of us can say that about lace, much less lace with nupps?!

Not to nag (no really not) but how is the 1000 project going? Did you get my e-mail about the name?

Anne O'Nymous said...

Lovely shawl!

Your writing is utterly swoonworthy, as usual. Your reference to the shawl as "one of those Victorian heroines who blossom into spunky, swanlike maidenhood in spite of having been tossed out of a slum and into the streets at age four with nothing but a crust of bread and a button hook" is delightful and makes me want to run for the Dickens.

Do you lock up your works in progress? If not, this lass's tale has the potential to include time spent at bike rallies, political conventions, and other sordid soirees with Dolores and her, well, "beaux" might be the kindest things to call them, but Dolores might interpret the word as a cheap sheep joke.

Don't tell her my verification word is "behort." That will annoy her, too.

Steven said...

Love that beautiful, dark color. I can't wait to take your class when you come to Austin next weekend!

(...and I have to share -- the word verficiation I have to enter for this post is "poogull")

sol said...

It's lovely! There's a saying in Norway that you raise your first child, then s/he will raise the younger ones. Could that be true for lace as well?

Otter said...

She looks like she is doing well and has the wisdom to avoid opium dens. Perhaps there is a wealthy peer just around her corner (or is that the corner of the border?)

Andrea said...

Oh lovely child you have in there. Or it looks like one :-)

Emily said...

Actually, I find a lot of things get done that way...a bit now, a bit then. I once had to clean up 10years of neglect from my yard for a graduation party for my daughter. The task was so huge that it was impossible; so I did a little here, a little there...no clear goal in mind (it took weeks). My father was dying at the time and this mindless work helped me enormously. I dubbed it "Zen raking". Suddenly I could see the end, and all the peacefulness was gone, just like that.

I'm scared of nups. Should I be scared of nups?

Allison said...

Great analogy Franklin and a beautiful bit o' lace to boot! I am fortunate enough to be able to take your lace class at the Knitting Nest in Austin in a few weeks...I live east of Dallas, but you are well worth the drive! I look forward to meeting you and obtaining a bit of lace knowledge as my lace knitting is rather challenged :^)

Phyllis said...

The border may well prove to be long years of patiently working as a genteel governess, until his lordship notices her and sweeps her away to Paris.
Or Maine.

Roxie said...

I think she's going to Ceylon to run a tea plantation and have "an understanding" with a neighboring Rajah.

the Lady said...

I love reading your posts, they're very funny. Thanks for writing.

Marianne said...

I just had to comment because my verification word is tristest.
Sounds like the title for your Victorian novel... Bonjour, Tristest?

Riin said...

Ah, but if you screw up your knitting, you can rip it apart and start over with the same yarn. If you screw up raising a kid, well, if you rip it apart you can't reuse the materials to make a new one. You just get arrested.

cb said...

I have to say I have little exprience with lace untill now, but you are definitely right about those phases. But normally I get totally excited that it does work and at some point I can't really knit a row further, because I get bored when I get the hang of it... BUT I did finish my first lace project and I'm really proud of it. Strange thing, that with the lace...
Cheers!

junior_goddess said...

Knitting nupps is like raising a teenager-there's a lot written in books, but at the end of the day, you may or may not let them live. You just have to do what works!

Lola and Ava said...

If knitting lace is like parenting, then I apply the same philosophy that has gotten me through 18 years and one week from high school graduation: be firm, push and tug a lot, and it will all come out in the wash. Looks amazing, by the way.

Lisa said...

Ab fab, as always!

Difficult to see the "full effect" until blocking, as you well know...

Love, love, LOVE lace - and your work (knitting, writing, cartooning)!

Lisa said...

Ooh, another thought, regarding "nups"...not acne, but perhaps moles/beauty-marks!

anne marie in philly said...

(Last time she removed her dirty underwear from the floor without being told, she asked me to hire a skywriter.) - bwhahahahahahahaha!

have a good trip to TX! I will be spending WWKIP day at the TNNA convention in columbus OH. booth #953 if anyone wants to know...

PS - MY word is "looph"; curiouser and curiouser...

LoriAngela said...

I really needed this encouragement. This week I finished an Icarus shawl to wear to my son's commencement. Shiny. But thing 2 is in the "tearing" dramatic period.

FiberQat said...

What if her lord and employer is an Australian sheep rancher and during shearing time she is rescued from a renegade ram by the gruff but kind ranch manager.

Raveller said...

Perhaps it will slither to the cloakroom floor and get left behind, only to take on a second more exciting life around the neck of the attendant... I am practicing my nupps....

Seanna Lea said...

Looks pretty good. I always find it amazing how a project can just creep along with a bit of casual attention and then all of a sudden you realize that done is just around the corner.

Miss Sandra said...

Here's to your shawl inheriting a fortune because "someone leaves money to his nephew's lover's guardian's brother's youngest daughter". (Little Dorrit)

Patti said...

I love nancy's bush's book, I'm on my 2nd project out of her book, and while my knitting mojo is in the toilet, I can still pick up and knit my estonian lace project. It's magic I tell you, MAGIC!!!

Samina said...

As the thoroughly fed up (at the moment) parent of a 14 month-old, I can unequivocably state that your first paragraphy may be the truest I've ever read.

Anonymous said...

If only our children came out looking so well after blocking.

Rebecca said...

So far it screams Heathcliff, while Kate Bush's 'Hounds of Love' blares in the background.

-suiro

Melissa said...

oh, the drama, the anticipation!

Evelyn said...

I love the pattern-ish thing that just came out in the Summer Knitty. I'm totally going to knit a sampler like that!

Kathy said...

You're a delight- Love man crafters! Would love to have you guest blog about the therapeutic benefits of knitting on www.CraftForHealth.com

Questions: Kathy (AT) Craft For Health (DOT) com

Hope to hear from you soon.

Sahara said...

Ah, the first paragraph of your post, filled me with the kind of peace my mom got from reading The Daily Word.

The monstrosity I'm finishing (why?)has finally calmed down, and even looks nice now.

PICAdrienne said...

Love the article in the Summer Knitty.

Kristen said...

Your skills are stunning! Love both this post and the article in the summer Knitty.

Now I have a frightening confession to make: I hate nupps. I hate bobbles of any kind. I just don't like the way they look or the fact that bobbles on women's garments always wind up, uh, on an awkward position on a woman's chest. (Same thing happens with the buttons on double-breasted jackets.) I will go do penance now, but I will not knit nupps!

Anonymous said...

I was bitten a long time ago with lace. Finished my first estonian lace shawl 3 months ago but still have not blocked it yet. The pattern is called the estonian potpourii. A true challenge in that it is knitted like a log cabin quilt design.( 3 squares knitted together with a knitted lace insertion and finished with knitted lace border). No sewing, but lots of nupps. Already thinking of knitting a lace blouse using a size 20 or 30 cotton crochet cotton. Love your new cartoons.

Eileen said...

Franklin, I love your new Knitty column. :-D

No acne, though, I fear.

Kate G. said...

Hey, Mr. Panopticon, nice column in the latest Kniity. You must have worked your tail off on the research. I'm so glad they have you in the line-up.

EricaLynn said...

In addition to the time investment, I think people mostly don't throw out kids because it's illegal. If only lace had a law to encourage you to finish?

=Tamar said...

If she's going to travel with a sea captain and then raise tea in Ceylon, those are definitely barnacles.

The secret to bobbles, nupps, etc., on women's garments is to make them very small and make lots of them, so no individual one is particularly noticeable.

Margaret said...

The shawl is nice, and your blog is very entertaining. I was writing on my blog today about a festival in Baltimore. It suddenly occurred to me that your Dolores could so be a "hon"!

maryskid said...

Franklin, I'm a lurker usually but wanted to say that the lace bug is going around, I'm knitting my first pair of lace socks-nothing so complex as your project-you inspire me. Just wanted you to know that, like me, there are probably a lot of us out here who lurk and never chime in to tell you how much we enjoy your writing and look forward to each new entry.

String Bean said...

I love paragraph 3. I thought of Elizabeth Bennet, but she didn't have a button hook. More like a crust of bread and a book.
Hurry up and finish the lace so we can see it blocked. If you and Dolores are taking opium don't forget your supplements.

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