Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ishbel Shawl

Recently, I finished Ishbel, a lace shawl designed by Ysolda Teague who designs, self publishes and sells knitting patterns and books.  I used Nimbus Cloud, a yarn spun from alpaca, cashmere, and silk by an independent dyer.  The yarn was very soft and loosely spun making my stockinette stitches slightly uneven. Blocking smoothed the main body of the shawl and shows off the pattern in the lace border.

The strength and beauty of lace intrigues me. Although knitted lace looks fragile and is easily snagged, finished pieces have a certain strength. Empty spaces allow air to pass through creating a fabric as resilient as the women who design and knit them. 

Knitted lace emerges as corresponding increases and decreases combine with empty space. Both are important to the design. The combination reminds me of writing and reading stories. Whether I'm editing a rough draft for the first or fiftieth time, I shape the piece both by what I include and what I choose to omit. When I read a well written story or poem, I often speculate on what the writer chose to scratch out of her first draft.  This is particularly interesting when getting to know characters in a story.

Teague's pattern was well written and the charts were easy to follow.   I enjoyed the project and am looking forward to the next shawl but first I have a Christmas stocking to knit for my grandson.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Early August

Summer weather in Nebraska brings heat and humidity. Today my google weather chart says the humidity is 100%. Last night, a monsoon downpour fell while I was grilling dinner. When I walked this morning, the tree leaves were dripping with moisture under an overcast sky. The combination of light and humidity meant spider webs were visible. I counted at least 19 webs on the large blue spruce next to our driveway. An eight year old from the neighborhood was outside with his mother exclaiming about the webs. Across the street, a large web connected by long lines of silk to a tree and a car seemed to be suspended in mid air.

Other years I've noticed these webs on humid August mornings so perhaps spiders spin more webs in late summer. Although webs are susceptible to wind and those of us walking through them, the tensile strength of spider silk is greater than the same weight of steel.

My aunt passed away yesterday. She had a rich life and had been ill so her death was not unexpected. Still, I thought of her when I saw the spider webs this morning. Life is fragile.