10.28.2010

Introduction to Lace

Suki's Nemesis

Designer: MMario Leo a Pola de Finale Emelia
Fiber: Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud [100 % Baby Alpaca] 
Colorway: Tide Pool Heather
Sticks: US2 (CO, rnds 1-8); US6 (rnds 9-24); US8 (rnds 25-BO)
Finished Size: 62" in diameter (157.5 cm)

Methodology: 
  • knitted in the round beginning with Judy Becker's Magic Cast On (JBMCO)
  • 32 sectioned repeats
  • border is knitted as you go
  • BO knitted as written (loosely)
Modifications:
  • Added 1 knit round after JBMCO, before beginning rnd 1
I’m a BIG fan of Mario’s lace knitting designs and so are many, many others. I’ve admired the beauty of Queen Anne's Lace since the very first time I saw it! This shawl is a gift for my maternal grandmother, Hazel, whom I call Mamá (pronounced maw-maw in creole). I'm an uber fan of hers as well. She is quite literally a second mother to me, a true matriarch to our entire family and I adore her! She taught me selflessness, spirituality, how to love, to have faith and when all else fails--laugh your ass off! Her and my Grandfather have been married for 62 years and are great-great-grandparents! Even though they drive each other crazy at times, they have an intense bond and love for each other, and it's fun to see my Grandfather still pinch her on the caboose when he passes her in the kitchen. Hazel--you still got it cher! I hope she has fun showing this shawl off to all of her friends. I know she can only enhance it's beauty with that of her own.
This was my first major lace knitting project. I had never before knit with such a thin yarn or one that's makeup was solely alpaca. I LURVE the color; it is one of my favorites. It looks so amazing in person and unfortunately the photos don't do it justice. My photography skills are horrible, but I'm trying to get better with every FO shoot. When I was hand winding the yarn, not only was I struck with just how thin this 2-ply lace weight really was, but I was caught a bit off guard by its lack of stretch. It reminded me of working with very thin cotton crochet thread. I was hoping I didn't make a poor choice by not knitting my first major lace project with a more familiar and forgiving wool or blend. By the time I had gotten past the first several rounds I had a better feel for the yarn and quickly adapted. I stuck with my nickel plated brass tips in lieu of Addi Lace or bamboo. The "slickness" of my KP Options seemed to help counteract the lack of stretch.


¡Lo siento Papi!

Why the name, "Suki's Nemesis?" Well, there's a story well befitting the swift approach of my favorite morose holiday. I first began knitting this shawl in February of this year and had made it through the second to last chart when tragedy reared its evil head. My beautiful, sweet little chi, Suki, ☞ decided the lacy alpaca WIP lying on the couch would be perfect as soft, warm bedding for an afternoon nap. This wouldn't have been an issue, except in her mandatory revolutionary jaunt routine, ubiquitous amongst canines, her tiny chihuahua paws got entangled in the lace. Like quick sand, the more she struggled to get loose, the more she became entangled and was caught in a panic running down the hall (WIP still attached) fleeing from the “blue-green monster” trailing her now in a horrendous state of knots, dropped stitches and unescapable malice! NOOOOOO! I dropped to my knees and went into a Nancy Kerrigan fit screaming, "Why God, WHY!" Needless to say, I had to frog the whole thing after a few expletives and a couple glasses (ok, 2/3's of the bottle) of Chilean Merlot. Suki, I love you, but from now on it's only blankets and pillows for your naps! I mean, I wouldn't want you to have to endure the hard sofa cushion all by itself--heaven forbid!

So, after placing this project in hiatus for months in attempts to work through my PTSD, I pulled out the lace weight and resumed knitting last month with psychotropics and my therapist’s cell number written atop the pattern. Surprisingly, it didn’t take as long as I thought to get back into the “mindset” of the pattern/lace, as it were, in spite of what we now refer to in this house as the “I-will-never-use-Daddy’s-lace-knitting-as-a-bed-ever-again-if-I-don’t-want-to-be-put-down” incident (just kidding, Suk's).

I'll be honest--this was a challenging project for me in and of itself. I had more than a few dropped stitches, marathon tinking sessions and re-knitting attempts. It was painfully frustrating at the time, but in the end I came out the other side as a better, more confident knitter and found yet another fascinating niche in the knitting universe. I completed all charts (you can stop earlier, on row 138, as instructed for a smaller shawl) and used the written BO. I blocked it on a queen bed with 32 pins at each point. It dried in no time at all and is so decadently soft with just a hint of bloom of the 2 ply alpaca. All in all, it's a great success and I'm waiting until the very last minute to wrap it so I can get as much eye candy time as I possibly can!
Tips I learned:
  • The beginning is really awkward, you just have to grin and bear it, but it won't be for very long (kind of like my first experience with a woman).
  • I used 2 circular needles with JMCO until I had a good handle on the first several rounds.
  • Mario actually gave me the suggestion of starting with small needles and progressively increasing in sizes.  It's esthetically pleasing and makes for less awkwardness at the beginning.
  • You can utilize the felted join with animal fiber, lace yarn despite it being so thin.
  • Do not assume that all even rounds will be plain knit rounds!  Many of them are, especially at the beginning, but make sure you knit the included even round instructions where appropriate.
  • You don't have to worry too much about tension with lace on large needles, so if some stitches look a little askew as long as it's correct, it should even out when blocked.
  • Most of the rounds' 32 patterned sections end with a "k2tog" at least every other row forming undulating lines radiating from the center. Use these as a guide!!  If you're off at the end of a section repeat, stop and check where you made an error before moving on to the next section.  It will save you a great bit of time and frustration!
  • If you typically bind off tightly, I would suggest either going up 1 or 2 needle sizes for the BO, or using a stretchier BO such as Jeny Staiman's surprisingly stretchy bind off to ease blocking.
More photos to come pending delivery to Hazel!



3 comments:

  1. My hat goes of to you Millard, I have given up on a lace project after just making continous mistakes ( said lace project is in a basket under my bed), but you had the added disaster of a little bundle of fur running down the hall with your project intwinded.

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  2. I think it's a matter of choosing the right project. I initially had started the Aeolian Shawl (which I love), but after a few rows I wanted to impale myself with my needles. QAL is much more tolerable, but long. I'm knitting the Swallowtail Shawl right now by E. Clark and it would be a great first lace project. Her pattern is VERY clear and includes charts. She also gives you options for lace weight, fingering and DK. It's a quick knit and the budding lace pattern is easy to memorize.

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