I’m fond of saying that hardly anything in knitting is as hard as it looks. I credit my growing adventurous spirit in knitting to this basic principle. Lots of people tried to tell me when I first started knitting that it was all just knits and purls, and if you could do that, then you could do anything. Now, nearly five years later, I’m finally sold. Stranded colorwork? No problem, just keep those floats loose. Intarsia? Cumbersome at times, but really not bad. Cables? My favorite of all, especially when worked without a cable needle – such an impressive return on a stunningly simple technique. Sure, there are things in knitting that are finicky, but that’s a question of dexterity, not true difficulty. Only one thing tests my commitment to this position.
Lace is my nemesis, my archenemy, my white whale. In 2011 I chose what I thought was a fairly simple lace pattern for my first lace shawl. It was pattered on one side only, with just simple yarn overs and decreases, and a knitted on edging. It was rectangular, not a soul-sucking triangular monster or a pi shawl with a neverending edge. The pattern was Moon Dance by Melanie Gibbons, and it was every bit the clearly-written, well-designed, perfect beginner’s lace that I’d hoped.
It was a disaster. I couldn’t even get through the first section, the simplest of all. Over and over, I frogged and cast on. (To its credit, the Eos yarn from The Unique Sheep held up extremely well.) Curses were uttered, teeth were gashed, but to no avail. I simply could not knit this lace.
Ultimately, I did pick the shawl back up, and managed to knit it without any major hiccups. The finished product was beautiful, exactly what I was looking for, and has served me well. I thought perhaps I had just needed a little more experience, and that now lace knitting could join my arsenal of skills. So you can imagine that when I went looking for a project for 230 yards of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift from my stash, the elegantly simple Flying Home shawlette by Kat Coyle seemed a natural choice. A nice, consistent, repeating, easily readable lace pattern. Just the thing for testing the waters and honing my skills before taking a crack at another large shawl, right?
Well, if you were anyone but me, it would be.
The wailing. The cursing. The gnashing of teeth. The 300 froggings and casting back ons. I finally had to resort to placing my lifeline after each and every six-row repeat. And then, because I wanted to get a slightly larger shawlette by using every scrap of the yarn that I could, with the end in sight, I ran out of yarn halfway through the bindoff. But at last, finally, I can show you my second piece of finished lace ever:
I expected that once I finally cast off this monstrosity that I would never want to look at it or any other lace again. But you know what?
I adore it and I can’t wait to wear it. And I’m already planning the next lace.