Well, City Knitting is finally joining the ranks of knit bloggers everywhere. To start off, we have a little show-and-tell from Marilyn. And like most of Marilyn’s exploits, there’s quite a story to go with it.
Shawl we dance???? Last month I got inspired by a visit to a knitting blog called brooklyntweed] and perused the photos of the Shetland Triangle Shawl that he had knitted. There was a serious threat about drooling on my keyboard. My next concern was about whether or not I could actually knit this shawl. I know that I have knit lots of cables, entrelac, intarsia, etc., etc. but I have never even contemplated knitting lace. The gorgeous pictures of this shawl shot me right through contemplation and into intention.
I’m talking serious intention, folks. I started it later that day. First, I went to an office supply store that starts with S . . . just like shawl, huh . . . And I
enlarged the charts that are part of the pattern so I could see the charts easily and take notes about the pattern if I wanted. The pattern, by the way, is in the book Wrap Style, by Pam Allen and Ann Budd, published by Interweave Press. I would like you to think that I accomplished this enlarging task by my own skills but knitting lace requires that we remain grounded in reality. So here’s the first reality check: I was more of an observer, while the store employee punched the buttons on the Xerox machine. Gratitude is a regular part of my knitting process too.
Another reality check: I am a member of SABLE, truth be told. Those letters stand for Stash Accumulated Beyond Life Expectancy. So all I had to do is look in my yarn stash for yarn that might accompany me on this adventure. I used Lisa Souza’s yarn in a fingering weight that’s half merino wool and half silk. Luscious.
I cast on and made my way through the directions, my anxiety at a moderate level, and began the Neck Chart. I knit three or four rows and found myself with stitches left on my left needle . . . and, according to the chart, I shouldn’t have any stitches left. The first time I did this, I just frogged (rip-it, rip-it, croak) the rows and started over. The third time I got to row six or seven before the stitches were not matching the chart. My anxiety level was no longer moderate.
I decided to go to look at Brooklyn Tweed’s website for more inspiration. I read
his blog entries about the shawl and noted that he thought it was a pretty easy pattern and he “had knit it on autopilot.” This statement was not what I’d call encouraging. My experience was more kamikaze than autopilot, I’m afraid. But was I giving up??? Not this stubborn mule.
What next? What would I tell another knitterfriend/customer? Use your resources. So I remembered that Kathy-on-our-staff was an excellent knitter, an excellent teacher, patient and kind, and experienced in knitting lace. So I dragged my almost-round-the-bend self to City Knitting and sat down with Kathy. She confirmed what I knew about chart-reading and gave me an invaluable hint: use a gazillion stitchmarkers! Use more than the pattern calls for without hesitation. Use them to identify pattern repeats. You may have to move them as the shawl increases in size (I did) but they are helpful reference points. And at this stage I
was much more interested in accuracy, having deserted speed many frogs ago. She also confirmed the mistakes in my latest attempt and so the theme music you hear in the background means another trip to the frog pond. But I honestly wasn’t discouraged at this point — I knew I was reading the charts correctly. I have plenty of stitchmarkers in my possession. By now I also knew that I couldn’t do this pattern, for the time being, with the television on, while carrying on any kind of conversation with my friends, at the yarn shop where I’d be interrupted by someone needing to be waited on, or having a glass of wine.
By the time I got two-thirds of the way through the shawl, I could have the television on and still be okay. I mean, I would be okay and more importantly, the shawl would be. If you’re wondering about the other distractions, at this point the answer is no. Is having a shawl that I can take pleasure in and be proud of worth giving up these things? Yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.yes.
So, shawl we dance? Timidly, awkwardly, repeatedly, determinedly, hopefully. Yes.Yes.Yes.