Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Filet Dragon Shawl

Hey again folks, time for some more not-about-hats posting, and this time a rare crochet edition*.

I've been having an odd urge to try some filet crochet(Ravelry) - this is a form of crochet in which you work a square grid mesh, and produce a pattern by filling in some of the squares. This can make some amazingly delicate and beautiful lacy designs, and the complexity of some of the designs is rather epic. (I should give special mention to City Knitty's own Sarah Moore, who has some absolutely stunning filet doilies.)

So, I'm planning to make a filet shawl. This is rather a foolish and recklessly overconfident plan, since I only barely know how to crochet in the first place, and this is a rather large project. But still, a knitxxor's gotta do what a knitxxor's gotta do.
The project is based on Ursula le Guin's Earthsea books, particularly Tehanu, which I tend the think of as the last one, though that's not entirely accurate. I'd say everyone should read this, but since I still need to read the later books I may not be one to talk.

[This next bit is going to be pretty spoilery... ish.] At some point in "Tehanu", there's a song sung, which just comes up in passing:
Farther west than west
beyond the land
my people are dancing
on the other wind.

This relates to a folk tale which is told, that once, long ago, there was only one type of people, and they had wings. Over time, they learned to make beautiful things, and some of them loved these beautiful things, so they stored them up and built huge fortresses to protect and defend them. Eventually, spending all their time in their fortresses, these people stopped flying and lost their wings, and these people developed into humans. The other ones though, preferred to live wild and free, never owning or storing anything, they kept their wings and developed into the dragons.
This is (broadly) what the song is about, wanting to be away with your dragon ancestors, soaring over the ocean rather than labouring away hording stuff. Naturally I can't explain it as well as le Guin does.

...so, the plan is to make a shawl with a big dragon motif across the back, and a border with this folksong written across it.
I made some sketch of how this should be laid out, and I'm liking how it's looking. I've sketched up some charts too, but they still need some finalising. And I've made up some swatches and more or less figured out how the filet technique works(thanks Cynthia!), so now it's on to getting it done!
I'll try to post some of the sketches once I have the charts sorted, assuming I can get them into a format I can thumbnail properly.

Also, knitting in public day this week!

* - because a crochet hook can be just as pointy a stick as a knitting needle.