L is for Lace

Three reasons I love knitting lace:

  1. Not having to worry about getting the perfect fit. I very rarely bother swatching for lace. I usually just start and then after the pattern is established I stretch out what I have and make sure it looks ok. If I don’t get exactly the gauge in the patter, I don’t have to worry about sleeves that are too short, or a jumper that will grow in the wash. A shawl that ends up too big is just extra shawl!
  2. It looks way more complicated than it actually is to make. The shawl I made for my wedding was really only k2tog, yo and the occasional purl (in those tricksy double yarn overs). Knitting lace has much more to do with perseverance than knitting skill, but the result can look so impressive when it’s finished.
  3. It has the most impressive blocking magic. I’ve had shawls almost double in size once I block them. Something that was a bundle of lumps and loose loops of yarn stretches out into something special. I love the slight air of mystery, where the results of your work doesn’t appear until the very last minute.

Three reasons I hate knitting lace:

  1. Feather and fan. We hates it, precious. I can never keep track of it and I’ve never been comfortable reading my stitches. Most of my lace based mistakes can be found in feather and fan borders. Fortunately the result is often very pretty, so it’s usually worth the hassle. Usually.
  2. The bind off row. Oh, you started with six stitches? Now bind of 400! And then there’s the worry about having a loose enough bind off since lace can nearly double in size when blocking. Chances are the looser the bind off, the longer it takes, but all that pales in comparison to the other option: the knitted on border. The border always feels like the longest part of a shawl, but it’s usually visually worth it. Usually.
  3. Delicate lace stitching + beautiful variegated hand dye = disaster. Become a lace lover, and you’ll become someone who appreciates a good solid. Or a very long gradient. Or the most subtle of colour shifts. Anything more will usually hide the pattern, and the pattern returns the favour by making the colour changes look extra messy. Fortunately there are plenty of projects for laceweight and fingering yarn that do suit colour changes, and sometimes unlikely combinations just work, but knitting comes with no guarantees.

I’m looking forward to the weather turning so I can start taking my lovely lace shawls and shawlettes out of storage.

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