Thursday, 21 April 2011

Is lace-weight for the fearless? Are lifelines for cissies?

(Photo courtesy:

I'm not a big follower of the current knitting fashion for making beautiful, intricate, fine lace shawls, shawlettes and stoles. I can appreciate the enormous skill that's gone into them and can see them as the items of true gorgeousness that they are, but it's not an ambition of mine to be able to make one. The ratio of pleasure and potential use v. amount of effort expended would be all out of kilter.

But that was before I bought a vintage dress in pale pistachio from Purple Rabbit. The very item it needed to complete the look was a lacey scarf. Just rectangular, basic lace - nothing too fancy. I'm not a fancy sort of girl. So I chose a simple lace stitch from the stitch directory and some Natural Dye Studio oyster lace silk, and started knitting.

Then I made a mistake and started again. Then I counted up and had the wrong number of stitches, so I started again. In fact, I started over lots of times. Finally, after about eight attempts, I think I've got it. I've reached a stage where I can see when I'm doing the wrong thing in the wrong place and can adjust it to make it right.

Why so slow and stupid? Well…1) my eyesight isn't as good as it used to be, plus 2) I have two cups of coffee first thing, which isn't exactly excessive, but nevertheless it makes me shake ever so slightly - a disaster for lace knitting, and finally… 3) the oyster colour of the yarn is exactly the same shade as the aluminium needles I'm using. Thrice woe.

A lifeline or two seems a good idea, but I like to think I'm a fearless knitter, eschew such sensible precautions and with only a little grouse or two, will start over completely if I go irredeemably wrong. Anyone with 1042 stitches on their needles for a more intricate triangular shawl might feel differently. This is a mere 47 - I know, I'm playing at it, aren't I?

I'll take a photo next time the knitting and the camera are in the same place…for now, imagine something ivory-coloured and simple, where the beauty of the object comes almost entirely from the quality of the wool and the simple stitch pattern, rather than from any skill on the part of the knitter.

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