For the love of lace

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Every time I pick up lace knitting that I had put aside for a long while, there’s always a certain amazement. The feel of this nearly light as air fabric dripping from both the needles and my hands is something that epitomizes everything that I love about knitting. It feels like I’m actually creating, and what I’m creating is magical. Spinning used to be that way, but it is less so now–except when I spin that gossamer single ply of newt’s hair. There is magic in creating something so entirely delicate and yet amazingly beautiful at once.

Of course, I’m naturally picking this stuff up after long periods of having set it down because lace takes time, so much of it. Heaven help you if you’re doing a rectangle or square–it never gets smaller, and a square done in a circle will only continue to get ever bigger, and seem to take ever longer. Even at the last legs of the main part of my ever decreasing triangle center I didn’t feel like I was really making progress, though my carefully scratched off list of rows suggested otherwise.

It’s this careful balance, I think. It’s meditative. After doing four socks (one Bex, one Aragorn, and the pair of Vilai) in rapid succession, and the massive hand cramps, it was quite nice to pick up the Summer Lace Shawl I’d been working on off and on and discovering that the loose way I hold the needles when knitting lace reduced the cramps. That I could knit at length–and while it didn’t seem I was making progress, showing it to others who hadn’t been staring at it for the length of it’s creation suggested otherwise. The arrival of The Haapsalu Shawl pattern dictionary increased my urge to knit lace–Haapsalu lace is the only lace worth knitting in my mind, the only one that visually appeals to me enough to want to create entirely new things just using it.**

Enough blather, time for pictures. I can hear you thinking it at me.

I’ve been working on the Summer Lace Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush for quite some time. Most of that was it sitting waiting to be completed. Well, it’s on its way now, and I’m working on the final edge (which I did not photograph on the needles).

The main triangle is yet unblocked, so don’t mind the frumpy. It’ll bloom quite nicely after the edge is completed, sewn on, and then the entire thing blocked.

It looks awfully tiny now, but that’s 100% merino, so it’s very likely to stretch forever. That’s due to the nature of merino fleece–it’s super crimpy, and so it likes to stretch and expand outward when blocked. You can even let it rest a few seconds after pinning, and then stretch it a bit more. Of course, super crimp means it likes to relax down a bit more readily than some other super crimp fibers used for lace.

The sunlight sheens ever so nicely off the purple merino–but it sucks up light and looks nearly black in inside light that isn’t bright. It made knitting a little tricky in places.

And here we have the plain of the frumpy lily of the valley pattern, rising up in hills and mountains of fine fabric. Blocking is going to make this look lovely, and I’ll certainly get pictures then. Despite what it looks like, I did not take one picture and steadily crop it–they really are three different pictures that I just get a bit closer on with each. So there.

In not so lace related news, but perhaps one day will, I also snagged some pictures of the cleaned white Shetland fleece and some of the combed top.

As you can see, there’s still a little VM (veggie matter for the non fleece preparers out there), which will come out when combed. These locks have some lovely crimp, and I’m slowly setting aside the crimpy-est for possible lace spinning. Shetland is also good for that, and the longer staple than merino means that it doesn’t try to shrink as readily as merino after blocking. I’m likely going to spin from the lock for the lace, which will involve flicking each end of the lock to clear out any vm and loosen up the fiber, and then spinning straight from said lock.

Those two pictures of cloud are the white after it’s been combed. It’s very soft and lovely, though I haven’t spun with it yet. It’s got quite a different feel from the primitive light gray fleece that I took pictures of before.

((Why yes, I could just BUY Shetland lace from the Heirloom Knitting store, but who wants to do that when they could try spinning it?))

My two samples of attempted lace are alright–one is a single of alpaca, superbly over-twisted (I simply didn’t think to handy ply it at the time) and the other is the cloudy stuff from the light gray Shetland that has been handy plied. I’m not sure if I’d call either ‘lace’ but it’s getting closer. More playing around is in order, as is trying new things (such as the spinning from the lock mentioned before). I’d like to think of it as getting out of my box.

As an entirely unrelated lace thing, the cop from before was around 120 yards, which I’m quite pleased with. This leaves me with a great deal more spinning to do, though, as I’m still not even half-way through the Periwinkle fiber from Capistrano!

I do believe that’s all for the next while–spring break is at the end of this week, but I have a lot of midterms this week. Hopefully I’ll be able to do some spinning/knitting outside the classroom.


**As a note, I have no opinion on Orenburg lace–it looks pretty, but does not call to me quite the same was as Haapsalu. I’ll reserve any judgment for when I have the chance to knit even a sampler of Orenburg lace. My opinion of Shetland is a rant for another time. Perhaps a comparison of why exactly I prefer Haapsalu to Shetland is in order.

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One response »

  1. I love lace knitting so much but I’m so impatient with it. It is something magical to knit though, isn’t it?

    Good luck with midterms & enjoy spring break!

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