Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Full disclosure: I didn't knit any of that gorgeous lace. Dallas did. I did, however, take the very bad pictures.
I'm right on the verge of giving lace knitting another try but 1) I'm not sure my hands are up to it and 2) I'm not sure my skill level is up to it. There's something deeply disconcerting to me about skinny yarn and big fat needles. I find myself getting extremely tense as the lumpy formless fabric forms on the needles and I realize the only thing that will ultimately save it is my blocking skill. (I'll pause while you laugh. I'm not such a hot blocker.)
Okay, I'll admit it. I've been out of the knitting loop for four months and I'm struggling to get back in. The heart is willing; the hands, not so much.
You knew there was more to the story, didn't you? here it is. My hand took a beating this year. In a dazzling display of Freudian whatever, I cut, burned, bumped, carpal tunneled, and RSD'd my left hand into oblivion and it's just now rejoining the world. I have beautiful patterns (Have you visited Anne Hanson's KNITSPOT site? Gorgeous stuff!) and a boatload of yarn and now I even have hands that do my bidding.
But I seem to have lost my knitterly guts. I can't bring myself to cast on for anything. I choose the needles, the pattern, the yarn, the little tchotchkes that mark stitches, etc., and then I freeze. It's almost as if the planning is enough and execution is irrelevant.
I'm thinking something non-taxing to the brain and on the hands: maybe a blanket like the EZ one Brooklyn Tweed is working on or the Log Cabin I've been dreaming about since forever. Or how about turning out some spiral socks to tuck away for gifts? Or maybe take the lace plunge again and try a scarf? Something! I need to feel yarn beneath my fingers again.
Now here's a writerly question for all of you lace knitters. I'm working on the sequel to CASTING SPELLS (I promise an excerpt or something tomorrow) and I need a nice difficult lace pattern to plug into this sentence:
(Background: the character is a knitter/yarn shop owner who can kick butt with the best of them.)
Besides I was the woman who knit a XX without using lifelines. That had to count for something.
XX = a wedding ring shawl?
XX = an Orenburg shawl?
XX = ??
All suggestions gratefully received!

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Blogger loribird said...

Yup. Start back with something easy. Something small and nearly insultingly easy, like a plain hat or a garter stitch cowl. Plain socks or mittens even. Just make sure to use nice yarn. Your inner knitter may just rear up and demand that you cast on for a more complex project immediately...

As for the lace pattern, I'm not sure (being a lace novice myself.) If you can use proper names, I'd suggest a Herbert Niebling pattern (you can look him up on Ravelry - terribly beautiful and complex-looking stuff.) Actually, why don't you pop into the Lace Knitters forum and ask their advice - there are some very talented knitters there who could give a bunch of suggestions.

8:03 AM  
Blogger georg said...

Doing a search on projects on Ravelry with "difficult lace" brought up the Swallowtail Shawl, but I like the wedding ring shawl better. My own personal ideal of difficult is Vintage (the sock pattern by Lisa Grossman/Tsarina of Tsocks), but not everyone else thinks of that!

For your personal knitting, seriously go with something small and light and not too challenging. Light weight because your wrist strength needs to get developed again before you could handle a blanket or a sweater. I do recommend a sock or a mitten or glove or hat. I think I'm not going to be doing afghans any time soon- my wrists just can't handle the weight any more.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try The Illusionist at:
Not only is it lace but it is knit in mohair impossible to rip (Frog) out.
Holly in CT

10:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I found a couple of cute lace patterns in the One-Skein Wonders book. A couple of them look complex, but a few of them look to be of the skill-building variety. I know that I'm going to try my first lace project from that book. Now, all I need is a vacation to knit.

12:08 PM  
Blogger Nephele said...

How about "a cobweb lace shawl"? It has the advantage of evoking something delicate and filmy without requiring knitting knowledge. Though I admit the life-line bit is pure knitter lingo.

12:29 PM  
Blogger BeadKnitter said...

Courage, Barbara, Courage! Your hands will remember how to do it once you get started. It's like riding a bicycle. I went 10 years without doing any hand knitting (got into machine knitting big time!) and after I cast on those first stitches, my hands remembered what to do. It felt SO good! Start with something a little easier than a complicated lace pattern though.

Btw, I haven't knit up the sock yarn I won yet (will be doing that later in June), but I did read one of your books for the first time. It seemed the least I could do after your generosity. I read Someone Like You. I enjoyed it immensely and plan to read more of your books.

Take care,
Linda Jo
The Beadknitter

12:31 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

How about Mystery Shawl? I did one once as part of a Mystery Shawl Knit-a-long. And I definitely had to use lifelines!!!

10:42 PM  
Blogger WendyKnits said...

I vote for "wedding ring shawl."

You are basing that character on me, right? ;-)

10:56 AM  
Blogger Fran Baker said...

Wedding ring shawl, definitely.

Give yourself something fun to knit, Barbara, and you'll be right back at it.

4:16 PM  

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