Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Faith, Hope, and Love: A Wedding Gift To Remember

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
— I Corinthians 13:13 (English Standard Version).

It was a close thing, but by averaging ~5% of the project per day over ~20 days, I managed to finish the rectangular lace piece in gossamer silk for my sister-in-law and her new husband and to have it blocked and dried in time for our trip to the wedding. What a relief!

As mentioned in this previous blog post, the pattern came from the book Knitted Lace Designs of Herbert Niebling, as shown on p. 87 (charts on pp. 88-91). Although the design in question might or might not itself be a genuine Niebling, it is certainly a splendid example of German Kunststriken ("Art Knitting") from the second half of the 20th century. The yarn was Gossamer Silk from Heirloom Knitting. Since my sister-in-law with her undeniably "WASP-ish" ethnic heritage was marrying a man from Brazil, it was in keeping with the international flavor of the wedding that I chose that scrumptious silk fiber which is cultivated in Japan, spun in Italy, and sold from the UK. Michael at HK was kind enough to answer my questions about the provenance.

We arranged for the newlyweds to open the gift at the brunch hosted by the bride's parents on the day after the wedding, mostly so that I would get to see their long-anticipated reactions. I have developed the habit of typing up a cheat-sheet to go along with each knitted lace item that I give as a gift. This is partly to inform the recipient of the lifetime guarantee that should it need washing (or, God forbid, repair) it need only be sent back to me, since I have all the required blocking tools. But it also allows me to share various informative background details about the yarn, the colorway, the designer, the pattern, etc. My sister-in-law read the description out loud to the assembled friends and family, and she choked up a bit when she got to this part:

The pattern does not have an official name, but I chose the title from 1 Corinthians 13 (see above), because if you examine the motifs, you will see crosses (for Faith), leaves and flowers (for Hope), and heart shapes (for Love). The construction of the piece is also laden with wedding imagery, in that it starts as two separate squares, each knitted outward from the center until they reach a sufficient size. Then they are seamlessly grafted together and the elaborate edging is worked all the way around the outside of the resulting rectangle. So two pieces that began each with a life of its own become one and in the process create something new and beautiful together, just as the two of you are doing this weekend as you start your married life.
The finished dimensions of the piece were a generous 25" x 40". It started out, as indicated, with two separate but identical squares, which were then grafted together. Given my previous adventures with grafting lace, I was thrilled with the near-invisibility of this attempt, aided by the fact that the pattern at that point was nothing but stitch, yarn-over, stitch, yarn-over, etc. Near the start of the edging pattern, having noticed that the stitch count did not change over the course of the 42-row chart, I switched from 1.75 mm (US size 00) needles to the next size up (2.0 mm = US size 0) to help the fabric open up when blocked. In addition, the blocking process was GREATLY facilitated by the chain-stitch loops conveniently running all the way around the outer edge as a result of the laborious and time-consuming crochet bind-off (for which I used a 1.65 mm crochet hook).

Knowing that I was about to give the piece away and that it would be moving to Brazil with the newlyweds, I took lots of pictures while I still had it in my custody. Here is a gallery of my favorites. Feel free to click on any of these images, as always, to get a closer look. I should add that I did not have time to weave in all the loose ends until we reached Baltimore, where I managed to snatch a few productive hours sitting in our hotel room between family gatherings. So the occasional stray thread appears in these photos, taken before we left home.

One final note... This last photo was taken by another sister-in-law at the post-wedding brunch. It shows the newlyweds veiled behind the piece as they held it up for everyone to see while I pointed out and explained some of the motifs of the lace pattern to them. So yes, that's me on the right in the black sundress that didn't always zip up so easily. ;-)


  1. My gosh it is gorgeous!!! Stunning work!

  2. Yowza! It's gorgeous. Well done, you.