Monday, January 23, 2006

Olympic Project

It's decided: a lace shawl.

As I said the other day, if I really want to stay in the spirit of the event, lace knitting is my ultimate challenge.

I have completed three projects that would qualify as lace knitting. I did two mohair stole/shawl things back in the late 1990s. The same design -- my own -- mostly garter stitch with a pattern of eyelets forming diamond shapes around the edge. The mohair wasn't very fine, and the lace wasn't too bad as there was only one repeat of the pattern running down each side of the piece, and at its widest the pattern was 12 or so stitches wide. Not too much room for error, and not too fiddly as I was working with lighter colours in a fairly heavy mohair on largish needles.

And then there's the triplets' layettes. Wyla was making three layettes for her impending grand-triplets. Partway through the project she broke her arm. I offered to finish them up. Each layette had a cardigan, a bonnet and a pair of bootees. Very classic and elegant -- old school, if you will -- with a fine scalloped edging. She'd managed to complete one bonnet before the accident. That left me with 3 cardigans, 2 bonnets and six bootees. It nearly killed me. I was working with horrible acrylic yarn, on long, fine metal needles, to a deadline. In hindsight, a change of needles would have helped immeasurably, but I gamely forged ahead with the supplies I was given. I got the project done, but there was much ripping out and using of foul language and knitting in the cafeteria at work at lunchtime (which was a bad scene for a whole list of reasons). The depressing part was that it was only the edging that was in the slightest lacy. The body of these damn pieces was garter stitch.

I finished the last piece the day before the shower. I'm not sure the triplets ever actually wore the damn things, but, as they say, it's the thought.

And then there's the fact that I'm not really a lace kind of girl. I'm all about clean lines and simplicity and minimal adornment. So lace doesn't appeal as something to wear. That having been said, I found the beauty and complexity of lace patterns incredibly compelling. Birch, for example. Stunning. Hypnotic, even. I own a copy of Folk Shawls even though I never in a million years actually thought I'd knit something from it. Certainly I'd never wear any of them.

All of which goes to say that my Olympic Challenge is a lace shawl.

A wise knitter I know (Denny) suggested that the Wool Peddler's shawl is probably a good place to start, as it's not all-over lace. Part of me thinks this might be a cop-out, but hey, walk before you run. Perhaps the real challenge is to get it knitted within the deadline and cast on for Birch in Kidsilk Haze....

And for those of you knitting Rogue for the challenge... easy-peasy. I completed my Rogue in about 3 weeks without breaking a sweat. ;-)

Oh yeah, and if it works out well, I can give the shawl to my mother as her birthday present in early March.

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