Anyone who reads knitting blogs or browses Ravelry for knitting patterns can’t have failed to notice that lace knitting is incredibly popular at the moment. Ravelry is just full of lovely scarf and shawl patterns and with the availability of so many beautiful lace knitting yarns, you can easily see why everyone seems to be knitting lace.
Unfortunately my first attempt at knitting lace a few years ago was a complete disaster. I had purchased Jane Sowerby’s inspiring book Victorian Lace Today and started knitting the easiest pattern in it. It’s not that lace knitting techniques are difficult as such, but I quickly discovered that counting to five, let alone 7, is not my strongest point. I’m pretty absent minded at the best of times, my mind is always so full of thoughts and ideas that between the counts of 3 and 4 it just wanders off, following a particularly interesting train of thought, and my hands would be left on auto-pilot. So inevitably I made countless errors which I did not see a way of being able to fix. As Rowan’s mohair Kidsilk Haze is not the easiest of yarns to unravel, in the end I just had to abandon the project and I haven’t dared to try knitting lace ever since.
But recently I have started thinking that if everyone else is able to knit lace, it would be very odd I couldn’t learn it too. Surely Zen Master-like focus and concentration can be learned like any other skill? I’m sure all those Zen masters didn’t just wake up one day and decide that from now on they will be able to master perfect focus instantly.
And perhaps I can make it easier for myself by starting small, and knitting with thicker yarn knitted with correct-sized needles. That way I can visually see the pattern more clearly, so that if and when I lose track of what I am meant to be doing I can more easily see where I am.
As I am a great believer in “if in doubt, buy a book”, I decided to buy a helpful book on the subject. In the end I chose Lynne Watterson’s Very Easy Lace Knitting, and now I am glad I did. It is a very good book: visually pleasing, clearly laid out and uncluttered, with detailed instructions suitable for the complete beginners. The book is organised around lessons based on sample squares, many of which are very pretty despite being relatively simple. There are some complete projects too, some inevitable baby items and home accessories, a jumper, and a few scarves and shawls. They are nice enough, some of them I could see myself making, but I’d say the main value of the book is in the pattern library.
The only complaint I have is that the book does not offer any trouble-shooting advice or tips on how to avoid errors. For example, it does not include the very useful “life-line” technique. But all in all, it’s a great book, just right for someone like me who is trying to learn lace knitting in small steps, before launching into a full blown shawl project.