Never say never; Kiri Lace Shawl
There were two things that I thought that I would never knit: socks and lace.
I drank the kool aid when it comes to socks quite a while ago, and am now on my fifth pair. This is my Zombie sock:
This is a fun pattern to knit. The designer, Sheryl Giles, has made it available as a free ravelry download. (Sorry, you need a ravelry ID to use that link. The waiting time to join ravelry is now only one day!)
I got that awesome yarn on etsy from Castle Fibers. She doesn't have any sock yarn available right now because her shipment of yarn blanks has been delayed, but she should have more soon. She does have some gorgeous silk roving and handspun available right now. Her colors are wonderful.
Still, I thought that lace was a nut that I just would never crack. Every time I have tried lace in the past, I made a total mess of it, and I came to the conclusion that I just lack the concentration necessary to knit lace. For years I have just drooled over beautiful lace yarns and gorgeous lace shawl and scarf patterns. Some of you may recall that I paid Herta, the super-knitter, to knit lace for me because I just.could.not.do.it.
Earlier this week I was browsing around ravelry and noticed an ad for Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester on sale at Little Knits. I have always wanted to try Blue Face Leicester, and I have never knit with Fleece Artist or Handmaiden yarns, so I took a peek. It's a fingering/lace weight yarn and not really the sort of thing that I would use for socks.
They had it in a rich, beautiful green that is just the right color for the Kiri lace shawl from All Tangled Up, which is one of the lace patterns on my list of things that I would knit if I could only knit lace...
Then I thought about all of the knitting phobias that I have overcome in the past few years: socks, large mitred square projects, double-pointed needles. I used to think that #10 needles were small, and now I think that worsted weight yarn on #7's is knitting with a thick yarn on big needles.
It's time, I decided. I can knit lace! Yes I can! I decided to start with the Kiri shawl because it an easier lace pattern in that it doesn't have any fancy borders and the pattern itself is not terribly elaborate.
I did another pattern segment last night after taking that picture. Another flavor of kool aid consumed. I am addicted ... at least to this shawl.
I know that many of you are big needle knitters (like me) who share my preference for the KISS method when it comes to knitting (Keep It Simple, Stupid), so here are the things that I have learned since my earlier lace fiascos:
Stitch Markers ... use them! If you put a stitch marker between each pattern section, you notice immediately when you make a mistake because you end up with the wrong number of stitches for the segment. (I see the experienced knitters shaking their heads that anyone would not know this. Well, some of us didn't because we never needed them.)
Life Line: run a piece of thin yarn though the stitches on the needle after you complete a large section. If you mess up and need to rip, you can rip back to the lifeline and pick up the stitches. You don't have to rip everything!
It's a different zone: I normally watch TV or listen to an audio book or music while I knit, so I am not devoting all of my attention to the knitting. While I was working on this yesterday, the house was completely quiet. I was concentrating on the yarn and pattern completely, and listening to the sounds that are often drowned out: birds, the dogs snoring, the neighbors' lawn mowers in the distance, kids playing (not my kids, so I don't have to monitor whether they are playing nice). It was very calming and relaxing. I love the sounds of lazy summer afternoons when the house is quiet.
The Kiri shawl pattern is available as a free download to everyone (not just ravelry members). I recommend it as a beginning lace project. The original was knit using Rowan Kid Silk Haze, which is similar to Twisted Sisters Lust and Colinette Parisienne. I'm planning a Lust version using the Blue Curacao that I have been hoarding:
However, I am glad that I decided to use the Blue Face Leicester for my first project because it is much easier to work with than the silky mohair.
I also have visions of lace projects knit from Seasilk and cotton, but those yarns are not as forgiving as wool. It is best to start use a fingering or sport weight wool if you are the sort of knitter who likes to build confidence gradually rather than fearlessly jump in head first. (I am still amazed by the women who have told me that the first projects that they ever knitted were argyle socks. I am completely in awe of their superior knitting mojo.)