After being immersed elsewhere, I've re-surfaced in blogland, and so has the Rose of England shawl. Attentive readers may have been wondering whatever happened to Mistress Rose, last seen preparing for a star turn at a charity auction. Well, let the hand of discretion cover the mouth of wisdom – suffice to say she was the object of a misunderstanding, charity operates in more than one way, and Rose is temporarily back in my care. First thing, I gave the old girl a restorative warm bath and re-blocked her. Here's Rose among pins.
Rose was finished at tea or shoulder shawl size, about 48 inches (122 cm) in diameter before blocking, 58 inches (147 cm) after blocking. Tea shawl Rose used about 5 oz or 1,500 yd (141 g or 1,371 m) of wool-silk JaggerSpun Zephyr. ETA: I used US 4 (3.5 mm) needles, starting with a motley assortment of aluminum and bamboo dpns, then switching to nickel-plated circulars with progressively longer cables. I tried Knit Picks Options with 40- and 60-inch (101 and 152 cm) cables and liked them. They would be just about perfect if there was a way to connect the cables to make them even longer [g].
Re-blocking the diva required pinning with zillions of pins.
To aid the process, I marked a bedsheet with concentric circles in blue tailor's chalk. In theory, a string with one end fixed in the center and the other fixed on the chalk will produce perfect circles. In practice, Giotto's Os they're not, but they'll do. I also marked five lines at 72° angles as guidelines for Rose's five-fold symmetry.
The great paradox in wet-blocking lace is the fiber should be wet to its core yet the fabric should be only damp. Rose got a thorough 30-minute soak in a lukewarm Eucalan bath, then was blotted in a beach towel. Her five main points were pinned out on the sheet, then all 40 points, and last the fiddly crochet loops of her edging.
Here's detail of the edging, partially pinned out and fully pinned out.
The pins were a combination of sturdy T-pins, flower-headed pins, and straight pins, placed in that order. The first few T-pins took a lot of strain, but as blocking proceeded and more pins were added, eventually simple straight pins were sufficient to keep the entire shawl under considerable tension. Alas, there were casualties – several pins got bent, plus I accidentally stepped on a straight pin.
The pin-out took about four hours. A fair part of the time was spent re-positioning pins as the shawl unfolded, a task which has the unfortunate tendency to become obsessive, with diminishing marginal returns. Rose then dried overnight. Some lace knitters press their shawls, which flattens and sets the stitches and adds shine to the fabric. I want Rose to retain some of her wooly texture and she already has a sheen from her silk content, so I skipped that step.
Rose already has a new owner, who plans to take her to Rome next month (!) – look for pix from the Eternal City in due course.