Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Project Club Shawl

I have the pattern in my hot little hand and I am nearly ready to begin test knitting the shawl. I am ridiculously excited :o) But I live a very simple life. You will have to forgive me for the immense pleasure the whole exercise is giving me. VBG

I am just waiting for the lovely soft cashmere to arrive and then I can get cracking. My ability to mentally knit the pattern in my head and see what all those yarn overs and slip stitches will become is next to non-existent. I am not a visual thinker! In fact it is this knowledge of my limitations that held me back from using charts for knitting lace for so long. I just assumed that I would not be able to do it, so I didn't try.

All the way through the wild flower shawl from Dee's lace club I was so convinced that charts were not for me that I ignored the one that came with that pattern. Each row was knitted from the written instructions and I kept my place with post it notes so I could see which row I was on. At no point did I learn the pattern repeat, nor did I understand what I was knitting. The instructions went through my eyes via the brain to my hands without ever making an impression on the grey matter as they passed through it. It took me 5 months to s-l-o-w-l-y knit that shawl. It is my first lace and I am very proud of it. It is full of errors and I will never know what possessed me to knit it in cobweb weight. I started it almost a year ago and I have come a long way and learnt a huge amount since.

Since then, charts have become my friends :o) The Forest Canopy Shawl was the first, and the beauty of such a simple pattern is that you begin to see the pattern as you read the chart. As I said above I still can't see the finished piece in my minds eye. What I do now see are the stitches. The way they lean, the 'overness' of the yarn overs. The slipping and passing over, I see them on the page, the symbols mean something to me. I see how they are grouped, I know there should be a symmetry. I guess the next stage is to learn what they will look like as a whole, what the finished article will be. As I am now, I like the mystery. I like the slow revelation as I knit , the way the pattern unfolds from the needles as you add row upon row. The beauty that is lace, and always the magic that the blocking brings.

That's why I want to cast on now, right now. I have so much yarn I think I'll start right now, and then start again when the cashmere arrives. I want to see the pattern in the flesh (or in the yarn, I suppose). It is a wonderful thing, this knitting. How can non-knitters ever understand the joy it brings. You take this long string and you get two sticks and you wrap it round and pull it through and beauty grows under your hands and spills out over your lap and you have made something which is so much more than the string and sticks ever knew they could be. Ah! I love to knit!


kerrie said...

I am in awe of your queen of the waves, I love it. You must be so pleased with the way that it turned out. I've just posted a poll on charts v written instructions on the project blog, I'm hoping that people will try the chart without me writing it all out but we'll see. I'll go with the majority!

Lindsey said...

Well said, all around! I'm at about the same place you are with charts, I think--I can't see the final product from it, but I do find that they make it easier for me to understand a pattern.

And I think I rarely take the time to appreciate how amazing it is that I can create these great knitted objects at all. A fellow teacher told me this week that it brings him great peace to watch me knit, spin, etc.--that was really lovely to hear, and it made me stop and think about why what I'm doing is important and meaningful to me.