Captivated by a beautiful, bead studded, lacy shawl I noticed a woman knitting a while ago, I decided lace would be perfect for my next knitting project. I consider myself an accomplished knitter - I've done fisherman knits, complex Icelandic patterns, intricate baby blankets, and I've taught other people to knit. Surely a knitted lace project would be fun and stress-free.
Learning to knit was a birthday request when I was eight. My grandmother only knew how to crochet so her friend, Mrs. Butterfield was enlisted to take on the task of teaching me. Two days a week after school, I walked across Powell Boulevard to Mrs. B's big old house and sat with her patiently at my side for an hour or more knitting away on my kelly green sweater. It was slow at first, but I picked up her German style of holding the yarn in the left hand quickly. It wasn't long until all the pieces were finished, assembled, and I moved on to more projects. My birthday was in September and by Christmas I had finished my own sweater as well as one for my mother and one for my grandmother. I knitted under the covers after going to bed at night.
This week, as soon as I finished the sweater that has been on my needles since Spring, I found a pretty knitted lace pattern on line and then rushed down to the yarn shop to pick out materials. I could hardly wait to cast the newly purchased Alpaca yarn onto the #3 needles, but I thought maybe a sample with larger yarn and larger needles might be wise. First, I had to decipher the complicated directions - some terms were unfamiliar to me and the combinations were confusing. I finally made it through one pattern repeat with somewhat satisfactory results.
After finishing the sample, I quickly cast the new yarn onto the needles. All of a sudden I realized that working with lace weight yarn on #3 needles is like knitting thread with straight pins. I was all thumbs - dropping stitches, loosing my place in the pattern, and struggling with the tiniest crochet hook I've ever seen to pull a seed bead onto the appropriate stitch. It took me all afternoon to do one pattern repeat. It was a humbling experience.
I understand now why the woman at the yarn store suggested using a life line - a thread pulled through a row of stitches every few inches. I've ripped the yarn back to the beginning twice now. Just when I think I'm making progress, a yarn-over goes astray.
I've been wishing Mrs. Butterfield could show me the way through this spider web of yarn and tiny needles. Maybe I can call on her spirit to sit patiently by my side. . . and there is no question about using a life-line.