Feather and fan

A year ago now, at the 2012 county fair in Troy, Pennsylvania Joanna won a large bag of roving which had been kindly donated by Loch’s Maple Fiber Mill of Springfield, Pennsylvania. Roving is fiber that has been washed and processed for spinning. From that roving, and over the course of perhaps two weeks, Joanna produced nearly a mile of 2-ply, lace weight, yarn. From that yarn, and over a four week period, she knit the Feather and Fan Shawl the pattern for which she found in Meg Swansen’s A Gathering of Lace. The finished shawl weighs 6 3/8 ounces. It is 55″ in diameter and is made from just over 114,850 individual stitches. It was knit from its center, of just 8 stiches, to its full circumference of 1,320 stitches (exclusive of the crocheted edging). I am proud of her. When I asked Joanna to say something about the technique of knitting lace she said, “Lace is basically composed of holes created by increases, and decreases to compensate for these. The scalloped edges are the natural result of all of the increases occurring in one place and all of the decreases in another.” Does anyone know what that means?

25 thoughts on “Feather and fan

  1. Joanna is an artist and a craftsman. Very few people have the creative ability and the perseverance to master these skills today. There is something special in the character of a person who sees a beautiful shawl in a pile of fibers. Joanna is something else, Farmer. You’re a lucky man. πŸ™‚

    • Oh my George … thank you for your many comments this morning. I’ll be sure to show them to Joanna as soon as I get home. She’ll be so glad to see that you appreciate her work … and have taken the time to say so. She will insist that she does the work for herself and for the joy and satisfaction of creating such a beautiful thing. But, you and I both know how nice it is to have someone acknowledge the quality of your work. We’re all human and we all need a bit of what I call ‘gush’ every once in a while. I’m sure Joanna will blush … but she’ll appreciate it … I guarantee. Thanks much. D

  2. Joanna is so talented, this is a beautiful work of art and love. It’s incredible to think that something this intricate and delicate is created from what was originally balls of rough fibre from an animal’s back. I can hardly believe she took only four weeks to knit this with its thousands of stitches. I’m in awe πŸ™‚ My mother-in-law knits like this and she claims to have no creativity, I’m always trying to tell her that this sort of work is incredibly creative, and something I wouldn’t have the patience for. It takes a special person to knit like this.

    • I must have Joanna read this comment Seonaid. Perhaps I’ll have it printed on a t-shirt for her. She is always so unwilling to accept, as true, my observations that her work is handwork is art. I cannot tell you the number of times she has observed to me … “And I made this from some smelly, greasy, messy stuff that came off the back of a sheep!” I am so pleased that someone else has observed that Joanna has a special, if not unique, talent. And you are correct in observing that it takes a special sort of patience to do the kind of work she and your mother-in-law do. If I were made to knit – it would drive me over-the-edge for sure. Thanks for your kind observations. D

  3. Tell Joanna it’s totally beautiful! I’m sorry I didn’t comment on it before, Gmail is now sorting things into folders without asking and this threw me off for a while, I wondered why you hadn’t posted in so long … I’ve always loved the feather and fan pattern, though I’ve never tried anything this ambitious with it!

  4. I just noticed this post and was really excited to see it. Now I feel badly that I missed it in my reader, scanning your comments above. Knitting is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to do, and it frustrates me to no end. My sweaters never fit properly despite checking and rechecking the gauge, and I have no patience with the process, perhaps because I’ve learned to never trust my patterns to turn out. I stick to knitting chunky yarn scarves now, and feel my blood pressure go down rather than up when I’m working on a project. Perhaps I’ll drag my socks post out of drafts and publish it for Joanna, as it will give some context for the praise I am about to heap on her. Amazing, truly beautiful, and I am in awe of the entire process and work involved in making the shawl. And of lace, yes I do know what she means by the holes and scallops. I love how a bit of fiber can be turned into art with little more than a couple of sticks and a set of complex mathematical patterns. I’ve always been delighted with how traditional women’s handiwork undermined old fashioned biased assumptions about the female capacity to think through complex and abstract ideas. After all, what could be more intelligent that taking the abstract complexity of an idea and using it to make something, especially something this beautiful?

    • M. How very kind of your to take the time to comment, at length. Joanna is especially appreciative. I also am in awe of what she is able to do. I am the sort of person who has trouble disentangling just about everything (fence wire, hoses, my own shoe laces) … let alone work against entropy to create beautiful things as she does. I really don’t know how she does it. There are times, when she’s discovered a mistake several rows back in her knitting, that she’s been able to correct these without un-knitting all the way back. What it takes to do this is absolutely and entirely beyond me. Thanks again for the observations and kind words … we both are grateful. D

    • Posts which highlight Joanna’s fiber art never, ever, get much ‘play’ out there in the Blogosphere. Given that reality she will be quite delighted to read your comment. Thanks for taking the time to express your appreciation. D PS: Did you get my long-overdue e-mail?

  5. Very nice patterns – so delicate! I think I understand Joanna’s explanations – the bring back very old memories. In high school, knitting was one of my favorite hobbies. I probably spent as much time on crafting and sometimes also designing my pullovers than with my various geeky obsessions πŸ™‚

    • Who would have guessed? I suppose we all need a variety of creative outlets. Joanna will appreciate your comment – I will be sure she sees it. On another topic – I told Maurice yesterday that I was working on a post that only he was going to appreciate. He replied to say that you would appreciate anything he would appreciate. So … stay tuned … there’s a really, really, really geeky post under construction. Would you believe it’s even got a link to a site in GERMAN! Oh boy! D

  6. Wow! Impressive, indeed. It is a gorgeous piece of work and a testament to Joanna’s skill.

  7. I do NOT know what this means. I DO know that Joanna must have the patience of a saint! Her handiwork is gorgeous! When does she find the time to do it all?

    • Although she likes to look down upon folks like us as being obsessive and compulsive … she rarely turns the mirror to herself to see that she too is among our ranks. Once she starts a project she can be very ‘single-minded’ about finishing. Right now she is working on something for little-you-know-who. D

      • Now I see I get my OCD from both sides. Oh well … we may be basket cases, but boy, do we ever get things done! In all seriousness though, the shawl is very impressive and simply beautiful!

      • Little you-know-who will be one lucky little girl to get something off of Joanna’s needles! If it weren’t like folks like us, OCD or not, nothing would get done! Since June was born and Bruce tore his achilles, I have been busier than a one-armed paperhanger. Every day starts with a list a mile long. I appreciate Joanna’s handiwork because I knit/crochet/sew myself and KNOW the skill it takes!

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