And so, today, when the skies are chiffon and grey with rain clouds, the forest trees are draped in rain, and silent birds watch the steady downpour of rain, I am taking you down the Lace Trail with me. In which the knitters and me slug it out to produce a thing of beauty and satisfaction.
Lace is beautiful, we all know that.
But to produce an end product which satisfies the knitter, the designer and the onlooker—that is the arduous Lace Trail alright!
There are six knitters in today’s story, as well as fretting, deliberating and confused me. Planning out a new pattern is never easy. When you have six eager knitters, waiting to zoom past each other and reach the finish line,( never mind if the product is not as good as it can be…the main issue is finishing before the others), and when there is a room full of yarn of different shades, a bookshelf full of lace patterns of varying complexity, then a fretting, deliberating and confused me is mandatory.
So, what am I deliberating about? A lace shawl is not a space-ship or a fiction novel—I just need to take a pattern and knit a long strip and bind off. And I have a shawl! Take a pic and post it and wait for the compliments. if only Life was so simple!!
- Yarn shades/colors/hues/texture. It is common knowledge that lace knitting is enhanced by light shades. Light colors bring out the twists and turns and the spaces in between. It is also common knowledge that there is nothing as enticing /attractive as a black lace shawl draped over toned arms and a slinky dress. Finally, we earn/save and aspire for toned arms (gym subscription), sleek dresses and black shawls, and everything else the advertisers dangle in front of our eyes. If I want to sell these lace shawls, I better have them made in colors which are desirable and sell-able.
- Patterns. Knitting lace has been compared to dating a new person. The first few dates/rounds are all about focus, about checking out on the complexity hidden behind the good looks. Its only later that one settles down to really enjoying the company, predicting the reaction to your moves and life goes on.
- Lace patterns can settle down to sublime satisfaction, especially when the wrong side just has mindless purling to be done. Others can make you pull out your hair, call your shrink and break a crockery collection, especially when one knits the 17th row instead of the 11th.
- Length and breadth. Does a lace creation just covers the shoulders and bits of anatomy, or does it cocoon you in its airy yet warm fabric? Long enough to hang like a cloak, short enough to just encircle the neck?
- Gauge issues. In which I tell the six knitters to cast on 50 stitches and knit the lace pattern till a square has emerged, and in which I am presented 6 squares, all flawless, all lovely and all of a different size—range 6 inches to 8.5 inches.
- Edging and borders…elaborate edgings which give the 18th century French court look? Beautiful borders of the fifties? Clean corners and stark simple sides for a modern feel? Lovely lace and nothing else to detract the attention?
We begin with 6 knitters, 4 different needle sizes and 4 different stitch counts , 3 patterns and 6 yarn shades. Each pattern will be knitted into a light and dark avatar and we will celebrate success and rip out failures.
The patterns have been graphed, and the knitters take to them like ducks to water (there is a satisfied and smiling Mala in the background—reveling in the fact that she has managed to make charts easy empowerment for her feisty group!) behind the chatting and laughing, there runs a fierce current of competition. Who is going to complete the requisite 50 inches of lace first??!
Next session— 5 knitters look smug and satisfied with their 50 inches. Alas, looks falter as I find different sizes,( in spite of the gauge knitting—darn! I HATE this gauge riddle). I make notes on future sizes and stitches and which color brings out which pattern. Its time to get the border bit finalized.
Calculate stitches for the border—kill a few extra ones—bind off loose—oops! The border is fanning out—looks terribly sloppy/rather nice and different—lets rip it out/lets begin a new look—rip..rip..rip—add a side border this time—hmm looks neat—bind off loose—oops! The border is folding on itself—looks terribly sloppy—lets rip it out—rip..rip..rip—knit with two threads to give some weight—uh uh, no! its not working—rip..rip…rip—bind off by the other method…and VIOLA!!! We all like the shawl which finally emerges.
And in the midst of all the joy, the satisfaction and the smiles, lies that irrefutable fact which all successful people know. One has to keep working , keep toiling, keep producing, keep unraveling, keep going till one is deeply satisfied with what one has produced…it does not matter whether it is an article, a painting, a model, a thesis, a car, a lace shawl or a blog post, one has to keep going till satisfaction floods the mind.