“Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth or other fine crafts. Knitted fabric consists of consecutive rows of loops, called stitches. As each row progresses, a new loop is pulled through an existing loop. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them. This process eventually results in a final product, often a garment.” (Wikipedia, 2012).
I’ve been knitting — a lot. For years I’ve knit with large needles and gorgeous, worsted to bulky yarns of all descriptions. I’ve made scarves, shawls, shrugs, hats galore, afghans, even leg warmers. I’ve felted handbags and coasters, christmas ornaments and hats.
What I’ve never done before is lace knitting. I’m on my third project, still a tender beginner at this but I realized a small but important connection beyond the magical interlocking of yarn: I’m finally knitting like my mother did.
I remember baby blankets and sacques, reindeer pullovers and fancy shawls, Barbie sweaters and even a delicate white angora shrug. All done in tiny exquisite stitches. Even, meticulous and delightful to touch. I always thought it was just too slow and painstaking. I was a speed knitting. A hat in 2 hours, a scarf overnight. A baby blanket for next week’s shower — plenty of time!
This year suddenly I wanted to, not conquer, but join in with lace.
It started from the yarn (doesn’t it always start there?) I had fallen in love with the magnificent variety of fingering weight merino being hand- and kettle-dyed. There’s some seriously gorgeous yarn out there these days. I found myself buying smaller and smaller needles to do the fine yarns justice. First I blended with a strand of equally gorgeous mohair/silk blends (the pouf let me keep the needles larger). But they were too loose and didn’t have enough definition. So I stuck with hats of worsted weight merino and browsed endless lace patterns on Ravelry.
Now I’m addicted, and I see my mother’s hands as I knit.
Here are pictures of my first couple of projects. The purple shawlette, in Malabrigo sock 100% merino, was the first. The middle one is waiting to block and I’m not sure where it’s hiding. But number 3 is the lime green Malabrigo laceweight merino. I bought the yarn ages ago, couldn’t think why when I got the color home, but it’s exactly the weight I wanted to experiment with and it’s working up more beautifully than I expected.
The pattern is a travelling one, where each repeat springs out of the last, magically, I think. This is what made me see my mother’s hands. She loved this kind of lace knitting, vines, leaves, ferns, complex (way more than this) and graceful. She would have totally gone coo-coo over today’s luscious yarns with their saturated colors.
Hey Mom, socks are next!