As you all know, I have been tirelessly working on my Cherry Leaf Lace shawl. As with most lace patterns, the beginning is fiddly, cumbersome, and annoyingly difficult. Every time I start a new pattern, I wonder how I will ever get the thing completed. It always seems daunting, but once I have cast on those few first stitches and get a few repeats under my belt, something just clicks.
I have heard at least a thousand times that knitting is the new yoga. I completely disagree with this statement. Knitting can be quite stressful. Anyone who has dropped a double decrease and watch it ladder down 12 rows will know exactly what I'm talking about. Even though dropped lace stitches are reparable, it isn't easy and shouldn't be taken lightly. Fixing that mistake will take hours no matter how you do it.
This is why lace knitters--those shawl-after-shawl kind of lace knitters--can be described as somewhat intense, with addictive personalities. I myself have been known to compare lace to crack from time to time. No, that's not really true: I always compare lace to crack. Many of us can't stand the thought of having a huge, gaping mistake in our lace and will spend hours tinking (thats knit backwards for the uninitiated)what took us even longer to crank out, just to fix some funky deacrease or wrongly-placed yarnover. But that isn't all that reveals our addictive nature: If I have something non-lace on my needles, I'm still thinking about the latest Ann Hanson design, or how long it is going to take me to knit that last border row, or maybe when and if I can ever knit that darn Crown Prince Square Shawl from Estonian Lace (mark my words, one day I will conquer it!). Here it is by the way, gracing the cover of the book:
Look at those nupps! What dimension this shawl has! Anyway, to the topic at hand...
What is it about lace that attracts me so? I love the charts, I love the incredibly thin yarn and tiny needles, I love the changeable repetition that comes with knitting a triangular shawl. I love the rush that comes from knowing that you no longer need that chart. I love that my mind, my eyes, and my fingers can reach such a harmony with one another that they are able to read what I have knit like a book and know what comes next. Working in harmony with one another, they reach a kind of knitting nirvana. This is what I really love about lace knitting. The epiphany that comes with absolute coordination of mind and body.
When I show friends and family my latest shawl-in-progress I always sort of stumble over myself and apologize that it looks so funny. They always kind of look at it and fuss over it politely, unaware that its true essence has yet to be revealed. That's something else that makes me adore lace: the transformative magic of blocking.
I actually hate the process of blocking. It is a two-man job at the very least, and usually I'm so excited that I finished a shawl that I can't wait for hubby to come home and help me pin it out. So I'm left to my own devises, sticking myself with pins huge T-pins and knocking myself in the head repeatedly with blocking wires. Oh, and the measuring and repinning are just vile. I swear sometimes it must look like I'm attempting to play some sort of demented knit version of Twister. In the end, all of that insanity is worth it. Because what you get as a result of all that precise pin placement and lump of holes, nupps, and stockingette is a masterpiece. Here is proof, seen once again in the example that was Kiri:
Kiri as a lumpy, noodle-y mess:
Kiri after washing and blocking to within an inch of its friggin life:
I know that many of you are thinking that the Kiri lace "leaf" and the Cherry "leaf" are similar--if not the same--animal. It is a common misconception that all lace leaves are the same. They are most definitely not. You'll notice in the previous post that there aren't any holes in the Cherry Leaves, just lines created by doing decreases. Here it is again, just as a reminder:
(wow, I'm all about the photo recycling today!)
The yarn over increases that counterbalance those lines are placed at the outer edges of the leaves to form a negative space outline. The opposite is true of Kiri. The yarn overs are placed in the center of the leaves and the decreases form the outline of the leaf. And displayed at the Barbara Walker Knitting Project is the gorgeous "Candlelight Pattern", which utilizes yarnovers both in the center of the leaf and along the outside.
I could probably go on and on about the merits and joys of leaf lace, but I'm sure this is not something everyone would like to hear me expound upon, so I'll just leave it at that.
One more thing I do want to mention about knitting lace: cats love it. I don't know why, but a cat cannot resist laying on a blocked shawl. WendyKnits has photographed her own cat perched haughtily on her delicate work of art many times. My own cat even enjoys the process. He loves batting at the blocking wires as they wiggle their way through the holes. It is a miracle that none of my shawls have suffered damage from this. A good thing, too, because my shawl wouldn't be the only thing suffering damage!
A Few Reminders:
* Please please please remember to enter the contest! We have 8 entries so far on the blog, plus a few on twitter and plurk. You can win either a skein of handspun, a handpainted roving, or something knit from 4 ounces of handspun yarn. All you have to do is name my wheel! See previous post for details.
* Virtual Knit Night is scheduled for next Thursday November 5th at 930 pm and will be air live at Stickam.com. Please remember to friend me before the show airs. It will be a closed session and we'll need to be buds before you can enter the room. You can see my profile and friend me here. Please remember to add something to your friend request that mentions where you heard about the show; I get many requests from users with such charming names like "naughtysecret37592" and "sgtlongdong". If you are hell-bent on using one of these names you will definitely need to identify yourself as a knitter or spinner. Uually these people get an automatic deny!
* I haven't forgotten about posting about my foray into reinactment spinning. I promise to blab about in the next post, when I talk exclusively about spinning and announce the winner of the Name My Wheel contest.
That's all from the sundrenched Blue Bungalow, where the weather has taken a lovely, sunny turn! I hope you are enjoying the same sort of treatment from your skies... Til next time!