women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Small Decisions

No matter how tall the mountain is, it cannot block the sun. Tenacity and adversity are old foes.
-Chinese Proverb

Wanna bet?

Although I wouldn't generally characterize myself as a mountain...(I would, however, rather be a tall mountain than a wide one.)

I just spent 2 hours blocking the sun. In all her splendor. Just what you need on a cold, crisp February day. A little invincible summer.

I know from tenacity, after the last week's push to the finish. While cramping fingers and designs that don't behave the way you want them to may be small peanuts, when compared with true adversity, they do require a certain "stick to it"-iveness. (If I can't find the word I want, I'll just make one up. Call Webster's.)

You think you know someone. You've hung out with them for months. You've shared sunny mornings, snowy afternoons, your first holiday season, your truest love on Valentine's Day. She has been with you through arguments with your husband; she has kept you company on lonely nights.

Then she opens up to you and reveals her true beauty. That which you presumed to know, has depths yet to be explored.

She is from the mysterious east after all!

When you look closely, she still has a few secrets to disclose...

This is one of my favorite details, which was difficult to see until now. That little crumpled edging, once outstretched, becomes a series of tiny suns. And each loop is crowned with its own bead.

(Stellar gets all the attention, being an expression of excellence and all. But I think we can make a case for a new paradigm...)


One of the things I have truly enjoyed in the process of designing this stole is the opportunity to craft the finer details. They are hard to capture in pictures, but these intricacies combine to bring the piece into finer focus.

One of the modifications I made on the fly this week, was to merge the diagonal border for the center diamond into the vertical portcullis stitch panel. First I ended the line, then I overlapped it, but in the end, the merging lines seemed the most visually pleasing option.

I twisted the stitches at the beginning of the center diamond to bring it to a sharper point.

And when I couldn't find a vertical lace panel I liked, I modified an all-over stitch, again adding twisted stitches to emphasize the vertical line.

I have reworked the center join, ditching grafting, which everyone dislikes.

At least everyone I've talked to. If grafting is your thing, if you look forward with barely concealed impatience to working that needle back and forth, if fiddling about with 199 stitches is your idea of heaven, by all means, speak up! Me? I'll stick to chocolate...

The thing about grafting is: you wind up with a one stitch offset. And that would put a jog in my vertical lines. Picky, I know, but I just can't help myself.

So, I went back to the drawing board and worked out a nifty little exposed and beaded three needle bind off. And, just like that, a design flaw was transformed to a design asset.

Of such small decisions is a design made.

And that, while admittedly being a source of frustration at times, as we cast about in search of the "perfect" solution, is what makes the whole thing tick.

You know, most of us will never be faced with a really "big" decision on the order of, say...

"Should I drop the bomb on Hiroshima?"

Instead we are faced with a laundry list of work-a-day decisions...

"What shall we have for dinner tonight?"
"Will I make that deadline at work?"
"Can I make it to my next payday on $25?"
"Was that yarn worth my money?"

Small decisions
  • that add texture to our lives
  • that bring joy to our souls
  • that together, add up to a finely crafted work of art.


Linda said...

Oh, this is stunning, Susan. I can hardly wait to make this - you've done a beautiful job, and it's always so interesting to read about someone's creative process.
(as my husband is fond of saying): GOOD JOB!

Kate said...

I can't think of a good adjective to describe this. It's amazing and beautiful and when I see the pictures I can tell the love and hard work you've put into the knitting. Congratulations, it's wonderful.
And you forgot another important but little question:
Do I want this yarn, or that yarn? Or that one?

Chrispy said...

Beautiful. I am in a cold induced haze but wanted to say that this definitely reflects the arab asthetic in art. Very appropriate.

Opal said...

So lovely. Did you know your stole is getting quite a bit of attention on the Yahoo group Shawl Knitters? Just thought you might want to know. :)

Anonymous said...

That is just every kind of gorgeous!

Donna Lee said...

It is stunning. The colors are so golden and warm in this grey February. Morocco, indeed. I swear I can smell some cinnamon....

Lucia said...


the sound of one gob smacking...

Ann said...

It's so beautiful & intricate & I love the beads. I don't like grafting & it's great that you have taken that out.

Agata said...

You're as good of a writer as you are a stole designer!

It's cool that the fullscale and the zoomed in pictures of Moroccan Days have their own appeals. While the stole is gorgeous on the whole, the little design elements, like the sun edging, the persian windows, the minarets, the palm leaves, etc are so gorgeous on their own - this is going to be so fun to knit :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! Thank you for omitting a graft!!

It truly is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Wow...I thought it was gorgeous before it was blocked but now it is beyond stunning! It has been such a pleasure watching this pattern grow! Thank you!

La Cabeza Grande said...

Now *this* is a labor of love! It is apparent in every detail. Kudos, darling.

vi said...

textured lace really truly is your forte

this is wonderful


Pat K said...

I stand in total awe.

ikkinlala said...

That is so beautiful!

Kristina B said...

I want to be you when I grow up, Susan. How lovely.