Lace with a Capital “L”

One of the great things about venturing into unknown territory is that, sometimes while you’re out there, you learn something new about the place you came from. Take my recent adventures with backwards knitting. I wanted to master this technique for the Lizard Ridge Afghan, which I’ll be starting for a knit along on December 21st. This helpful tutorial on Knitty showed me what to do.

The fun part (besides having a new trick up my sleeve) is that knitting backwards taught me something about the structure of the purl stitch that hadn’t quite clicked before. Maybe it’s that I’m not mechanically inclined, but I can’t see a thing from one angle and automatically envision the whole. I could relate an incident from my driver’s test to illustrate this, but I digress.

Watching the purl stitch happen from the back side provided one of those “Aha!” moments. It always seemed like I should be able to head the other way at the end of a row without having to turn my work. But how? Where did the yarn go? Now that I know, it’s like a really satisfying punch line. Ahhh! Of course!

It might be a desire for more of these “Aha!” moments that accounts for my recent interest in lace. I’m familiar with lace knitting in a basic way. I can YO and SSK with the best of them, and I’ve made my share of “lace” shawls. But it’s Lace with a capital “L” that I’m talking about. Orenburg. Shetland. Estonia. THAT lace. This lace:

Wedding ring shawl detail


And this:

Princess shawl

These are examples from Sharon Miller’s book, Heirloom Knitting. Actually wearing one of them is out of the question, but imagine all the things you’d learn by the time you finished knitting one! Mmmmmm!

I haven’t taken any actual steps in this direction yet, but I can feel it coming.

Okay, one step. I ordered some books.

While we’re on the topic, let me note that Jean Miles is entirely responsible for this lace thing. For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading her blog. She started blogging in 2004 and has, it appears, blogged nearly every day since. Besides that amazing accomplishment, she is knitting the shawl pictured above. (Or at least in 2006 she is. I don’t want to spoil the fun by reading ahead!) She makes the whole process sound absolutely enthralling and is therefore the one I’ve chosen to blame for thoughts of finer-than-cobweb merino and gossamer wool. Somehow, I don’t think she’d mind. If you’re into lace or anything knitting related, be sure to check her out.

Talk to me!