Friday, March 13, 2009

9. Torchon Lace

In which I am reminded yet again
why it is a bad idea to jump to conclusions

When I first started knitting the sample for this pattern, I assumed it was another version of the design we saw in 7. Seed Point-- a scalloped border with rows of eyelets echoing the contour of the lower edge. And as such, this pattern is a mess.

Fewer eyelet rows in the second half of the pattern than the first? Huh? Half of the pattern rows worked on the right side of the fabric and then switching to the wrong side? What the... ? I could only conclude that the pattern was half-baked, to put it charitably.

This mind-set persisted as I knit, and indeed throughout the blocking process. But the moment I removed the pins once the sample was dry, I saw it.

Something in my perception clicked, like the instant when you see the vase instead of the faces (or vice versa) in the classic optical illusion.

For an optical illusion it is. The name should have clued me in. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Torchon lace is characterized by geometric patterns. And the geometric shape in this design: the cube. This pattern is knitted lace's answer to the Tumbling Blocks quilt design. I have seen other cube motifs in knitting where areas of stockingnet and garter stitch define the different surfaces of the cube, but this pattern does it all with only the eyelets. And the aspects of the structure that had so troubled me-- the changes in the number of eyelet rows and the side of the fabric on which the pattern is worked-- are precisely what achieves the effect. Far from half-baked, the pattern's creative use of these elements is pure genius. The center of the design is the corner of the cube, closest to the observer. The eyelets on the right are more numerous and on the surface, making that side more dominant as if illuminated by a light source. The left side, with its fewer rows and deeply set eyelets, is receding. Cool, huh?

So I reblocked the swatch to accentuate the angular nature of the design.

"Torchon Lace" is a garter stitch edging with a stitch count steadily increasing from 13 to 20 and back down again in the course of a 30-row repeat.

You can download the full-size chart, verbal instructions and notes here.

Next week: Making Knitted Edging


Fiona said...

Wow, that is cool.

"Knitted edging" next, eh? Gotta love those creative names.

vintagekathleen said...

;>) I know, I would never be able to keep them straight without numbering them.

Anonymous said...

This is just wonderful! What a great find. Thank you so much for sharing these lovely old designs. This one is pure genious indeed.

Cindy said...

I'm working on a similar project.
Isn't this a lot of fun!

Sandy said...

This entry is a fine example of the importance of good blocking. I'm going to pass it on to my student who thinks knitting to gauge and blocking are for fussy "perfectionists" and that one size of needles is all you need for everything.

I've been following your blog for a while and am very much enjoying it. Keep up the good (and interesting) work!