I’ve been knitting for over 10 years now, yet the above piece is only my second attempt at knitting lace. It’s not that I don’t like lace- I actually LOVE it. However, the knitting community can be its own worse enemy when it comes to promoting lace knitting.
The message I received as a beginning knitter was that new knitters were fools if they tried to tackle lace without years of experience. I was told that lace knitting could only be done properly by more mature ladies from the ‘old country’. I even read somewhere that if you did not have the proper respect or historical understanding of where a lace shawl came from and didn’t knit it in traditional white wool then you are being disrespectful to the lace and are better off knitting a scarf in fun fur.
So, I figured that lace knitting was something you just looked at, but you didn’t actually dare do yourself. Instead, I just did crochet lace which was apparently the only form of lace allowed to be made by the ‘common’ person. Yet, I still wanted to make knitted lace.
When the opportunity came to make a head covering for a swap on Ravelry, I looked for a crochet version but couldn’t find one that moved me. Then I stumbled upon the lace veil that I posted about before. It was beautiful and reminded me of the lace coverings I would see women wear in Catholic church. But it was knitted. And I wasn’t allowed to knit lace. “What’s going to happen? Is the lace knitting mafia is going to bust down our door and kick your ass?”, my hubby asked. No. But like telling a child they are dumb, it was hard to break through those negative thoughts that were placed in my head as a young knitter. I decided that I would use the head covering as my way to break through everything negative I ever heard or felt about knitting lace.
I cast on and knitted away. I made mistakes, but didn’t rip my work out. I knew that if I ripped out my work, then I would use it as an excuse to not restart. So, I knitted on. And before I knew it, a pattern was taking shape through my fingers. It was lumpy and messy and looked nothing like the picture, but I pressed on. When I finally did my bind off, I damped the lace with some cool water and then laid it out on a piece of felt. Gently, I pulled and pinned down the lace. It was like watching magic in slow motion but still not being able to see how the magician pulled the rabbit out of the hat. I stepped back and saw the most beautiful piece of knitting ever and then I looked down at my hands, not sure how I could have made it.
That is what they mean when they say, ‘the magic of lace’. It is that moment of awe over yarn over’s and ssk’s that some how, without you knowing it, transformed into a work of art. I realized at that moment that I would never discourage anyone, no matter what their skill level, from trying to knit lace.
Lace knitting is not as hard as it seems. Sure, there are those wedding ring lace pieces that look as if they were knitted using yarn made from spider webs. And there are those patterns that knitters brag about that took them 12 hours and day for six months to complete. (You can file that one with the same people who talk about walking to school in eight feet of snow, uphill, both ways).
Lace knitting is not for some elite group of knitters who spend their summers in Ireland and their winters studying Scandinavian art. Lace knitting is for everyone! If you can read a chart and got your handy list of knitting abbreviations nearby, then with a little time and patience, you can knit lace. Never let anyone, knitter or otherwise, discourage you from enjoying the wonderful world of lace knitting!