Kiwiyarns Knits

A blog about New Zealand yarns, knitting and life



I’ve said before that I find lace challenging.

The last time I attempted a lace shawl, I ended up frogging it in frustration, having lost my way completely in the multitude of instructions that my brain simply could not keep track of.

So here I was, happily planning a cabled shawl, when something inside me went on auto pilot: it directed my feet to get the yarn out of the collection, the right size needles from the needle drawer, the book for the pattern, and before I knew what was happening, there I sat, yarn and needles in hand, the book open in front of me.  I took a very large gulp, and plunged.  What could I lose after all?  Nothing but a bit of time.

I think it’s looking at all those lacy shawls and scarves on Ravelry that’s done it.

It’s terrifying.  Nerve wracking.  Perversely addictive.  “Knot in your stomach” producing.  Brain fizzing.

This is the second time I’m attempting this shawl.  Despite looking at possibly hundreds of shawls on Ravelry, this is the one I keep going back to.  It’s the Prairie Rose Lace Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark.

What’s surprising this time is that I can actually see what I’m meant to be doing!  I’m actually correcting mistakes, and following the charts with “relative” ease.  Have I finally decoded lace???

I’m life-lined to the hilt, the chart is carefully ruled so I can see straight.

Will I finish it?  I don’t know.  According to everyone else who has knitted this and recorded their project on Ravelry, it’s blithely labelled ‘easy’.  Many have knitted it more than once.  Easy for some, she mutters darkly, feeling like she’s creeping along the ledge of a rocky cliff face, fingers clinging desperately to every little hold.

It’s a leap of faith into the unknown waters of lace shawl knitting.  Frankly, I’m terrified.  At the same time, it’s exhilarating!  It’s a wonder I haven’t broken my needles yet, as white knuckled, and brow furrowed, I inch along, concentrating to the hilt.  I have to admit that with each repeat, it is getting easier.  The code is finally making sense, and I’m starting to feel hopeful that I’ll have a beautiful lace shawl knitted by me before the week is out.

Socks and lace.  Who would have known it?  Two years ago, I swore I’d never be able to knit either.


Author: kiwiyarns

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20 thoughts on “Decoding

  1. Stick with it! I had the same feelings when I first started knitting lace. I had to be on my own, in a silent room, and woe-betide any one or anything who interrupted me. Then one day, something just clicked and right now I have a Taj Mahal shawl as my metro knitting 🙂

  2. Welcome to the world of lace knitting! You won’t be able to stop now, I promise you. You’ll finish knitting and think how ugly it looks. Then you’ll block it, and WOW! This one is on my list of shawls to knit sometime, so I’m looking forward to seeing your FO. I’m sure it’ll be beautiful.

  3. You can do it.
    After all, it’s only yarn

  4. So far my only lace project has been the “Saroyan” shawl, which happily came with written line-by-line instructions. I copied out each line onto an index card, numbered them & hitched them together with a metal ring. Then as I finish each “line” I turn the card over. This has gotten me through 2 Saroyans without frogging. Good luck with your lace knitting. Just remember, if you’re not enjoying it, frog it. Not everyone must be a lace knitter, just because all the books & magazines tell us it’s the latest fad.

  5. Good luck!!! I find that sometimes, ages later, things just click into place. Don’t know how or why but thank goodness they do 🙂 The shawl will be fabulous. Just keep going.

  6. My first lace project was Branching Out which was a scarf and it definitely has some mistakes in it; took 3 goes to get past the first repeat with several yarn changes. My second was Aeolian which went much more smoothly so I think one disaster is required before the brain accepts lace as possible.

    • Aeolian looks scary, but so beautiful! I take heart that you managed it as your second lace project. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to knit it too.

  7. Congratulations on mastering lace.
    On another note, I have followed your example and now have two projects on the go instead of sticking to just one. I must say it makes my knitting more interesting knowing I can make the decision about which one to pick up!

  8. Alright! That shawl is already looking great. Perhaps thinking it was too hard is what made it too hard?
    I’m sure that you will make it this time. And if not, that’s what life lines are for.

  9. Now that looks tricky. Are you using 2ply lace yarn? I have just ventured into my first lace.I was going to do Ishbel Shawl. The wools soooo fine I never got past the cast on 3st and knit 6 rows As for picking up down the sides! I have now used it double and made a simple Lacy Baktus.Does lace yarn come in different thickness? This one was Merino/Silk. Feels lovely but not much thicker than cobwebs in my house. I think my future attempts at lace will be with sock wooll. Good luck really looking forward to seeing it growing.

    • Yes, it is 2 ply lace yarn and it’s merino/silk, probably the same yarn you’re using. The first time I tried to knit lace yarn, I felt the same way as you… “waaah! How can people knit with this stuff??” I still find it less easy to handle than sock yarn, but I think I’m getting the hang of things. Lace yarn is usually 2 ply or 4 ply weight, but it’s really what you fancy using.

  10. Fabulous, I can’t wait to see it finished. I have yet to try lace but I too have been drooling over all the shawls so I imagine I wil try it one day. How do you put a lifeline in? I should youtube that before I start I think!

  11. Lace was like that for me too, but once I got past that “heureca!” moment I fell in live with lace knitting.

  12. Both beautiful and inspiring 🙂 Thank you.

  13. Good luck with it, you sound like you’re doing just great! I love that feeling of exhilaration when you’ve got the hang of something, it feels like you’ve been unleashed! My favourite part of lace knitting is by far the blocking. It’s amazing seeing all that lace open up!

  14. I, too, have been in the mood to knit a lacy shawl…and I don’t even wear them!! I try to find lace patterns that have all the even rows simply purl so I don’t have to think TOO hard! Can’t wait to see your finished shawl. K

  15. Once you connect with lace it kind of takes over. Have knit so many shawls for myself and family am now doing them for friends if they buy the yarn. They get to the point (if the pattern is well written) that they just seem to flow and it is so easy to tell when something is wrong. For most shawls I find I don’t need lifelines, just stitch markers as you can see within a repeat where the mistake is. If you want a really easy starter shawl that is great to wear (and gift) try Annis by Susanna IC – her patterns are all very well written and create beautiful shawls.

    • I hope that one day I’ll be as good as you. I have finally got to the point where I can see a mistake in lace. It all used to look so much like scrambled yarn that I’d have to tink back the entire row and start again if I knew I’d made a mistake! I have long wanted to knit Annis. I think I’ll be getting to it fairly soon.