Mom finally learned to knit lace.
I had 700 yards of Tili Tomas mohair beaded lace, and it was the perfect color for my sister-in-law who has auburn hair. It was time for me to learn to knit with lots and lots of holes and SSK and K2tog! It was time I conquered lace techniques! I had tried it a few years ago and failed completely. But happily, knitting the Lenten scarf KAL this past spring, I learned many new stitches, and decided I was ready to try lace again.
I searched and searched for stole patterns that used only 700 yards, but they were all about 1000-1200 yards. (That’s half the fun of using stash yarn: figuring out the perfect pattern for it.) Gosh, there was a lovely vest-type thing, and a nice sleeveless shirt type thing that used the exact amount of the actual yarn I had! But she didn’t want a vest or shirt; she wanted a stole. So in the end I visited “So Original” in Olney, MD, and the store owner helped me pick out some Debbie Bliss Angle mohair lace and J. Knits lace to go with the Tilli Tomas.
I ended up not liking any of the patterns in my magazines, (and Rebecca said the one I was trying out was crap) so I went to Barbara Walker’s “Treasury of Knitting Patterns” volume 2 and found the “Gothic Leaf” pattern. (Rebecca approved….a good start.)
This bottom picture shows the yarns I used. The one on the right is Tili Tomas. The one on the left is a combo of the lace and mohair. I balled them up together before I started to knit. (Major HINT: normally I knit with yarn from the middle of the ball, but in this case, it was easier to use combo yarn from the outside. When I tried using it from the middle, the two yarns bunched up and didn’t want to stick together.)
You can see if you look closely that I alternated the yarns every other row. The mohair yarn hid the beads a bit, but in person, the stole still has a lovely shimmer.
Now you see that first repeat? Twenty rows. It took five tries to get that!!! First I tried 6 scallops across, but that seemed too wide; too much yarn, too much time, too much. Five scallops seemed perfect, but boy did it take me a long time to master that pattern without mistakes! I couldn’t “read” the yarn, or understand what I was doing until the 5th try. I couldn’t even understand how it related to the picture in the book until the 4th try. About the 3rd try, I figured out to group the instructions so there was a pattern to it, and I titled the groups:
Intro: K1, ssk, k3 … 2 sets of holes with right lean: yo, k2tog, yo … middle bit: k1 … 2 sets of holes with a left lean: yo, ssk, yo … pucker: k2 tog, k1, ssk.
Eventually I could read these groups as I knit them and understand how they shifted to make the “Gothic Leaf” pattern. But it really took five tries to do that, and turning the TV off. I usually knit with the TV on and watch anything from news to Doctor Who to CSI or whatever the family is watching. I also love listening to audio books.
I can remember having a conversation with God during that fifth effort which finally resulted in the above pictures. It went something like this: “Did you have a learning curve, God, when you were creating the world? I mean, did you start with dandelions first and then move to roses? Or were you able to make a rose right from the start?” That sort of thing. I wish I prayed and talked to God more often when I knit, but mostly that is saved for desperate knitting moments and design inspiration sharing. Learning to knit this lace after 4 tries was certainly a desperate moment.
In the end, it was worth it! And it was a lot of fun by the 3rd row of scallops. By the 10th row of scallops I had it mostly memorized, but I still made mistakes and had to rip out rows. By the 10th set I could fix some mistakes and not have to keep ripping out. I think by the last set I finally knit the entire 20 rows correctly the first time. Oh well.
After 30 rows of scallops, it was done!
I also knit a new record: 1000 yards of yarn in 24 days. Previously I had knit a prayer shawl for a friend in 1 month which had about 900 yards. What is your record?
It’s so neat now to page through knitting magazines knowing that I can knit lace! Of course I’m talking about “lace knitting” which according to some means that the complicated bits are only on right side rows, and all wrong side rows are purled. Actual “knitted lace” means complicated row, complicated row, complicated row, complicated row … no relief. Maybe by next Christmas. Anyway, my sister-in-law loves it, and I’m thrilled too.