Okay, I know we said January 1st, and here it is the second, but as I said to you last week, I was overtaken by a sudden nervousness about the whole idea of undertaking the Princess Shawl.
We've been joking about standing at the "gates of hell", and suddenly I have the sensation that, somehow, Rodin is standing at my shoulder and having an awfully good laugh at it all.
You do know Rodin's Gates of Hell? They were commissioned in 1880, and were meant to be decorated with reliefs inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy. Rodin thought perhaps he might model the doors after Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise that front the Baptistry in Florence.
I've seen Ghiberti's gates. They are massive. They are impressive.
I've also seen Rodin's model for his Gates. Also massive. Also impressive. And, unlike Ghiberti's, quite unfinished.
So let's tote this up. The gates were commissioned in 1880. It took him four years to get to the point where he felt confident enough to make an estimate for the bronze casting, which was ordered in 1885.
(That's five years, since we're counting.)
The Gates were supposed to be on exhibit at the Universal Exhibition of 1889 (four years), but were instead shown to the public in 1900, but with all the figures stripped off it, because, over the twenty years he'd spent working on the things, Rodin had Changed His Mind about them.
Rodin figured that at that point, he had about one more month of work on the things and then they would be finished (total: twenty years and one month). One of Rodin's secretaries wrote, in 1913 (13! years! later!) that the Gates would probably never be finished.
So, you see, this is why, suddenly, I am quaking at the thought of undertaking the Princess right now. Oh, all right, I don't have to worry about creating it from scratch, nor changing my mind about the pattern as I go on, as it is all laid out for me, and quite clearly so, as Sharon Miller's patterns always are.
But it is, clearly, the most difficult project I've ever thought of undertaking. The last major lace project I worked on dates back almost nine years, when I spent most of a year making a Shetland lace christening dress and shawl for my niece, without knitting much of anything else at the same time.
What unsettles me most as I prepare to start this project is the prospect that the shawl will, like Rodin's Gates, stretch on and on and on, and ultimately remain unfinished.
On the positive side, at least I don't have to worry about casting the thing in bronze.