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Archive for May 28th, 2009

One of the things I find most captivating about knitting is its ability to produce patience in the most unlikely of subjects. I have always been tenacious, but not always patient. I tolerate imperfection only with the greatest difficulty. I like fast results (but who doesn’t?).

Knitting soothes me quite substantially by its tolerance of error. I’m learning that most mistakes can be fixed or lived with, often either one according to personal taste. Can’t live with that mistake three rows back? That’s OK. Rip it back and try again. Can’t be bothered ripping it back? That’s OK too. It’s one stitch: no-one will notice. I’m trying to work out where I am along that continuum, and realising that it changes from day to day, and that nothing bad happens either way. As a control-freak, I really like that I can make this little part of my world as perfect as I want/need it to be. It’s my time, and if I want to spend it all knitting the same row of the same shawl for all eternity, which is what it looks like at the moment, well, that’s nobody else’s concern but mine. No-one else need suffer or lose out as a result, “no animals are harmed”, and no-one takes any flak for my mistakes because curiously enough, I’m not even getting frustrated. Maybe it’s because the knitting police are not coming to drag me away in the middle of the night for screwing up…

… but thank goodness they aren’t. I decided to turn the cashmere I dyed myself into a shawl. It’s two-ply, and screaming lace at me. I couldn’t refuse. So I thought a “bluebell” shawl, as the colors are perfect, and the bluebell woods still fresh in my mind. I’m going to do something in glass as well, but I’m working up to that. For now, the shawl’s the thing.

bluebell shawl 1bluebell shawl detail

Since I love making my life unnecessarily complex I decided that for my first foray into lace, I would introduce several additional complicating factors. I thought – given that I can barely even hold the yarn, and notoriously can’t even count to four (see my slip-up socks in person for confirmation of this), lace wasn’t going to be a challenge for me unless I made up my own pattern. Yes, really. I kind of liked the Ishbel pattern, but I also liked* the idea of the nupps on the Swallowtail pattern. So we have an Ishbel-like beginning, which to be fair is the beginng for quite a lot of shawls, only I didn’t bother reading the pattern for any of them, preferring to cast on and guess. See the spine down the middle where the yarn overs are? Amazingly I even screwed that up a few times. In the end I want for a serious backbone (a single stitch didn’t seem to be working: mine is slip one, knit one, yarn over, pass slipped stitch over). After a while I decided to do a bit of the “lily of the valley” section from the Swallowtail. Then, in theory I’ll do another chunk of the plain stockinette, then some more Swallowtail, depending on how much yarn there looks like being. Or if I’ve decided that chewing off my own arms would be more amusing, I’ll stop. In reality I’ve done four rows, frogged four rows. Twice. It’s not the nupps that are bothering me, but for the life of me I can’t quite see what is. The nupps are fine; I watched the requisite video. I think the problem is historical. My ancestors and the Estonians = not such a great mix. I’m getting my revenge in knitting. A lot of them did bad things to a lot of my people, so – I raise your camp guards and einsatzgruppen one lace shawl. See it and weep. Actually, I think I’m OK for now though, and I have to say – the cashmere is incredibly soft, and the lightly variegated yarn continues to delight me. On the down side, I do have to keep reminding myself that lace apparently always looks like spaghetti throw-up until after it’s blocked. So I’m not worried. Yet.

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*I mean, liked as in “thought I’d like the effect of”, not as in “wanted to execute”

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