Shawl Update

View of the back of the shawl

View of the back of the shawl

I’m excited to share with you yet another update of my shawl in progress. See? It’s starting to look like a shaw! Yay, me! I’m almost done with the second skein of my lightest color, and then I can move on to the next shade of lavender in the progression. I still have about 18 rows left in the current lace section, and I am thinking the color change will happen before I switch to the next lace pattern. Which, incidentally, I don’t know what that’s going to be yet. Nothing like making it up as I go, eh? I just hope that the thing will be wearable in the end. Haha!

Closeup of the lace pattern

Closeup of the lace pattern

And here’s a closer view of the lace pattern. It’s Gull Wing Lace, which is a traditional Dutch pattern that has been included in A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, by Barbara Walker. I like it because it’s a lace pattern I know and I don’t have to think about it, beyond counting to seven. Also? It’s easy for me to read, so easy for me to fix. Knowing how to fix it is important, because even with the familiarity I have with the stitch, the occasional missed yarnover or dropped stitch does happen. And so, I can fix this one pretty easily by now.

I don’t know that there is another lace pattern that I know so well, so the final section and the border are going to be a challenge. Hopefully, by the time I get there, I’ll be up for it.

Wish me luck!

How to Choose a Lace Pattern?

Shawl progress

Shawl progress

This is my progress so far on my Pi Are Square shawl. I’m about halfway through the 12-ridge section. It turns out that both of the stitches used here look very similar to each other. I don’t mind that… but what’s next? How do I choose?

One of my biggest faults is that I worry so much sometimes about doing something wrong that I over-study, and over-study the problem, and then that leads to progress paralysis. You’re familiar with project paralysis, right? It plagues every knitter, every writer, every doer of anything creative from time to time. Well, I seem to have an extreme case. I have consulted all of these books for inspiration over the last week:

That’s an entire library on knitting lace and a practical encyclopedic collection of lace stitches. And you know what? I’m confused! I’ve gone overboard, again.

I’ve narrowed the field to a few criteria, but I have to go through the stitches again to find things that I think will work. Here are my thoughts:

  • It has to somehow fit into the area that I want to knit it into, not exactly, because I can use filler stitches and rows, but close enough.
  • It should be different from, but not clash with, the stitches that are already there, and the ones that follow (as if I know what that means yet)
  • The stitches have to be just complicated enough that they will keep my interest, but not so complicated that they make my brain hurt or that I can’t learn them, or read them from my knitting, after doing a couple of repeats
  • I’d like my stitch choices to be something that adapt easily to garter stitch
  • And they have to be beautiful, without looking too much like “old lady” lace, whatever that means. I have purple hair, for goodness sake, and I’m going through a bit of a midlife crisis. Not that old fashioned lace can’t be simply stunning, I’m just not sure it’s me.

So, have I driven you mad with my craziness? Does anybody out there have any thoughts on this? HOW the heck do I sort this all out? I feel like I’m only taking my first, tentative baby steps with lace knitting, and yet, I’m seeking a master’s degree straightaway. I am nuts, and I know it. For now, I’ll keep knitting, since I still have another 14 or so rows before I must commit. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Help?!?

As always, I thank you in advance.

Knitting a Shawl

Shawl beginnings

Shawl beginnings

This once-a-month blogging thing has got to stop. Yes, I miss it. But, I have no idea why I haven’t been blogging. Lately, though, it has seemed overwhelming to do. Yet, here I am… I have a lot to tell you about my knitting world lately.

For some reason, I got it in my head a couple of weeks ago that I want to make a shawl. I’ve been wearing wide scarves over my shoulders all winter. They all have been store-bought, and I have had a bit of knitter’s shame in that none of what I have worn has been anything I’ve made. You wanna know why that is? There IS nothing I have made. A few hats, an i-cord scarf, and lots of unfinished objects. I am the true embodiment of a process knitter; I start a project, eager to learn something new, and then once I get the concept, I quickly get bored. So, there’s not a lot to show for my “career” as a knitter.

But, back in November, when I visited Woolstock, I discovered the wonder that is Koigu. I bought 8 skeins, intent on making a shawl. Of course, it can’t be just ANY shawl. It had to be the PERFECT shawl. And so, the agonizing began.

Agonizing, because… here’s the thing. I love the idea of lace, but I really don’t like “old lady” lace. I’m 45 with purple hair for gosh sakes, I’m fighting my age tooth and nail. So, I had to find the right stitch patterns, and style and shape of shawl.

Enter the book, Crazy Lace:an artistic approach to Creative Lace Knitting by Myra Wood. (Whoa! Check out the CRAZY price on that thing! I swear, I paid less than 20 a few months ago. Is it out of print already?) This book is a really cool concept, and explains that lace can be whatever you want it to be, symmetrical, or not, orderly, or not… that as long as you understand some basic concepts for the shape you want, you can do anything you want with the holes and the decreases. Really. ANYTHING.

The thing is, I’m not quite that brave. Not yet. I want to be, but I’m not there. Still, the book was a great read and I will refer to it often every time I need a knitting confidence booster.

Then I thought I would love to try knitting a Faroese Shawl. The concept of this shawl appealed to me because as a person in a wheelchair, I have trouble keeping shawls in place on my shoulders. And the shaping looked like just the thing that would make this shawl easy to wear. I looked at some basic shaping instructions from this site. I understand the concepts laid out in this site, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Not yet. It was making my brain hurt, so I ripped it out after only the first few rows. I tried again and again, but the confusion never lifted. So there went that idea.

Then I looked around Ravelry, and there it was: The Pi Are Square shawl. (There’s a good example of one in this photo on Flickr.) Put simply, it’s round in the back, and square in the front. with shoulder shaping. This seemed perfect. Of course the creator of this beautiful design was none other than my knitting herone, Elizabeth Zimmermann. I have most of her books so I pulled my copy of Knitting Around off the shelf, and luckily, it made perfect sense! And off I went. I am enjoying looking at all sorts of lace books, coming up with patterns and ideas. Maybe I’ll even get a little crazy.

If I’m brave enough. We’ll see.

Wrapped in Comfort

Wrapped in Comfot Book Cover

This week I received my copy of Wrapped in Comfort: Knitted Lace Shawls by Alison Hyde. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to “know” Alison over the last several years, thanks to the Internet, and the various mailing lists we’ve been on over time. I always love hearing her stories of her knit scarves and shawls, and how they somehow find their way to just the right person at the right time. She has a knack for that.

I’m so glad Alison wrote this book! Ok, I’m so NOT a lace knitter, but this book makes me want to try. The patterns are clearly presented in written form as well as in charts, which is great for me since I don’t do charts very well. But the cool thing about this book is that it’s not just a great collection of beautiful patterns from the heart. It’s not just a knitting book. It’s also ABOUT the knitting. Each pattern has a story, and Alison included the story of the pattern, and the person it was for, or the situation in which it was created. Not only do the shawls and scarves presented in the book wrap the recipient of the objects in comfort, but the book does this as well. It is, indeed, a “comfort read” for knitters.

Way to go, Alison! And thanks for sharing so much of yourself and your talent with the rest of us.