Thursday, October 12, 2006

Process, Take Two

There are some knitters out there who knit to learn new techniques and to discover how the stitches all work together (along with pure enjoyment, and for other reasons, too). Not me. I like understanding what happens. I like discovering how one stitch fits into the others, but I'd rather have AHA! moments than set out to learn something.

Obviously, if I'm interested in learning a technique, I have to learn that technique by following the directions and playing around with that technique. I don't want to knit endless swatches, though. I want a finished, giftable project when I'm done. I have enough faith in my knitting abilities to tackle a project and learn the technique on the fly. I learned to cable by making a scarf (cashmere no less), I made that entrelac washcloth, and I learned to decrease by making a sweater (well, a tank top).

Enter lace. Lace has kicked my butt. For every row I knit, I have to take out two--the knitted row and the straight purling row to get the correct number of stitches back onto the needle. I can't watch TV while knitting lace (or lace knitting for that matter), I can't hold a conversation, I can't even stop to take a drink of water. I must concentrate. I've put lace into other patterns, with some tinking and frogging, but I've done it. I made a lovely top for a friend that has a lace bottom, a pair of mittens with lace cuffs, and, wait. Those are my only successful lace projects so far. I swatched for a Rebecca sweater, but I misread the pattern and then couldn't get the second swatch right no matter how I tried. I thought it was just my impatience with the projects. I hadn't dared knit with lace-weight yarn.

Then a friend of mine decided to get married. I thought a lace shawl would be a nice wedding gift. It would. But it isn't coming from me. I've been working on this darned shawl for months now (since I wound those 1200 yards into a ball), and the wedding is in a few weeks. It is not going to be done. I don't even think I can work on it any more.

It seems to me that a process knitter would have swatched it, learned the pattern, then decided whether or not to make the shawl. Process knitters don't mind frogging back rows upon rows to get it right. No way. I don't want to undo my work. If there is an egregious error, or if I catch something soon enough, I'll tink back, or frog a couple rows. If there's a twisted stitch that should be straight, or a cable is miscrossed, screw it. It's my humility flaw. Unfortunately for me, I can't fudge on this lace project. It's for a wedding! In lace, you have to have the right number of stitches to make the pattern work. Somehow I keep ending up with more or less than I should. That last repeat would look terrible if I kept going. So I'm done. No more lace for me. Maybe a cuff or a panel, but no shawls. No yarn that can break if I sneeze. No more.

I guess I'm just not a lace knitter.


supertoki said...

hey T: it's funny you are writing about lace because I just bought a pattern from KnitPicks for some "easy" lace scarves. so lace has been on my mind also! i'll bring it by some Wednesday to the shop..... (now that i'm knitting tons with the cold weather). knitting kind of amazes me -- how there's ALWAYS something new to learn!

Carrie said...

Bummer. I'm working on a simple lace scarf right now and loving it, but when I attempted the same pattern last year I almost had a breakdown. A shawl seems like a whole other level of craziness.

TK said...

Simple lace-fine. Big ol' shawl with 16 stitch repeats--not so good.

I want to see how both of your projects turn out. Be sure to post pictures.

Carrie k said...

I like lace and I've knit a few, but I have to say I just blindly follow directions & hope for the best. I didn't even realize I was knitting the Adamas Shawl from the top down until I was almost done! And the lacy prairie lace stitch, which is basically an easy 6 stitch repeat took me FOREVER to actually realize what I was knitting.

That said, it's fun, but yes, no distractions. No sound, no talking, no TV. Lace is definitely Hermit Knitting for me.

aimee said...

that is the most ridiculously huge ball of yarn i have ever seen

TK said...

And I wound it by hand. I've been thinking about it this morning. Maybe I'll take one more crack at it.

aimee said...

or just SMOKE some crack!!! hahaa. but i know how those difficult projects are. and how they just hang out in the back of your head until you do something about it.