Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Taste of Lace

This has been quite a year of firsts when it comes to Little C.; we tackled first steps, first teeth, first words ("Mama", "Daddy", and my favorite: "Good boy!")--but I've encountered several firsts when it comes to knitting as well.

I learned a lot (how to M1, other increasing, decreasing, SSK, K2 tog,  provisional cast on, kitchener stitch, long tail cast on, three needle bind off, how to use DPNs, how to make an I-cord, etc.), but it seemed like there were certain levels of ability that I felt challenged to pass. In my head, if knitting were a video game then Level 2 would be cables and Level 3 would be lace.

Even though I've barely made it to Level 2, I feel compelled to try my hand at level 3. Armed with my tokens of acquired stitches, extra lives, and game hints/ codes from Ravelry, I decided to try an easy beginner lace pattern called Matilda. It was a journey that Mario or Zelda would be proud of. (This is how long it's been since I've played video games; My point of reference is from about twenty years ago!)

I cautiously entered into a realm of thin yarn (yarn thickness is called "ply"). If you want something to look light and lacy, you can't use a chunky yarn. The craft store I went to did not have anything available except for sock yarn and mohair. Although I love the feel and look of mohair I am extremely allergic to it; I always find it floating around in the air, getting sucked up my nostrils and stuck on my eyelashes. It's torturous. So I went with a variegated sock yarn with beautiful blues and greens instead.

This pattern calls for chart reading. It is a very simple design, but any chart requires some concentration. I muddled through it without too many mistakes, however it has become increasingly clear that I really don't have the lifestyle right now to concentrate on much of anything. There's a cute website called Petite Purls that features some child and baby knitting patterns. They have a level of difficulty key for all their patterns which takes a new mom's lifestyle into account. Instead of just using a key with Beginner, Intermediate, Experienced, they give these type of details:

"Beginner: Projects for first-time knitters using knit and purl stitches. [Totally do-able for a mama while breastfeeding or snuggling with baby]

Easy: Projects using basic stitches, as well as repetitive stitch patterns and simple color changes. [A simple knit when time is limited and you want everyone to ooh and ahh at that baby shower you were invited to next weekend]

Intermediate: Projects using a variety of stitches, including cables and lace and perhaps some simple color work. Use of circular needles as well as knitting on double pointed needles. [This isn't for when Grandma is knitting while babysitting. Unless Grandma is babysitting and mama is knitting!]

Experienced: Projects using techniques such as short rows, fair isle, and intricate intarsia, lace and cables. [Seriously? Wait until the kids have been dropped off at college to take on this project]"

---from Petite Purls

Even though this is a beginner lace pattern, peace and quiet would have made it infinitely easier to accomplish. I don't know if it required Little C. to head to college, since I knitted it when he was sleeping at night. I guess I have to blame the tv and my husband for distracting me while knitting it. Because the rows build on each other, you must have the exact number of stitches on the previous row. Almost every one of my rows had a missing or extra stitch. Sometimes I had a LOT of extra stitches. My mind was definitely somewhere else while knitting it, I guess. Good thing the pattern and yarn are very forgiving. I don't think you can see too many of my mistakes. It's a triangular scarf/ shawl that is worn kerchief-style. Here's another glamour shot so you can get an idea:

I think I want to return to a mindless knitting or crochet project now, something very Level 1-like in video game world.

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