I realized recently that I’ve been doing this needles-and-string act long enough to perceive, for the first time, certain trends in my output. These trends are not at all what I’d have predicted when I started out.
If one’s knitting is a journey, I set out for Sausalito and wound up in Angkor Wat. I remember distinctly an early vision myself with a closet full of rustic handmade sweaters, made by me for me. They would fit properly, which off-the-rack sweaters never do. They would be beautiful, like folk art; but practical, like Gore-Tex.
So far, I’ve started three and finished one.
I know how to knit sweaters. I still enjoy the idea of knitting sweaters. I have (oh sweet Sally Melville, do I have) enough yarn to knit sweaters. But I do not, for the most part, knit sweaters.
On the other hand, my lifestyle is not such that I often stand before the mirror and think, You know what would look great with those motorcycle boots? A lace shawl. Yet I have discovered that I don’t feel like I’m up to much unless there’s at least one lacy thing in progress and two or three others under contemplation. If you look through my finished objects, you’ll see I’ve knit way more than my share of holes.
Go thou, as the Bible says, and figure.
Right now I’m up to my clavicle in nupps, thanks to Nancy Bush and her book, Knitted Lace of Estonia. I waited a long time for this book–years, Nancy, but who’s counting?–and was so relieved to discover it was worth the wait. Before it was released, I got my paws on a copy of the preview and Susan ordered one (1) copy of Miralda’s Triangular Shawl as soon as she saw it.
I decided, for reasons that are still unclear to me, that I should spin the yarn for this myself, using some beautiful Border Leicester provided by a friend. It’s coming along slowly, though my speed continues to improve.
(There’s nothing so titillating as a shot of a partially-filled bobbin of handspun singles, is there? Unless it’s a low-resolution YouTube video of drying paint.)
Mind you, I refuse to wait until the spinning’s finished to try out a pattern from the book, so I grabbed some JaggerSpun Zephyr and started the Leaf and Nupp shawl.
Nupps, in case you are not familiar with them, are little bundles of wrapped stitches characteristic of Estonian lace knitting. The word is pronounced “noop” and means “devil’s rabbit dropping.” (Nancy Bush insists it means “button” or “bud,” but you work a few of them and then tell me who you believe.)
Ha, ha. I jest. Nupps truly are not difficult after a bit of practice, and well worth the effort for the striking texture they add to the finished piece. Still, when you are learning, do so on a swatch and not the shawl; and make sure impressionable children and sensitive relations are out of earshot until you’ve got the moves down pat.
Photographs of in-progress lace are even worse than photographs of in-progress bobbins. Unless you take a lot of time to prep the shot, which I could not, they look like the bastard offspring of cheesecloth and macramé. But I tried silhouetting it against the morning sunlight, and offer you these.
If you squint, they look kind of artsy. If you don’t squint, please don’t say I never offered you the opportunity.