Starting on creative projects has been the second hardest thing for me since I’ve become a parent. The first, surprise surprise, is the effect of sleep deprivation. First three months, it was minimal and thus negligible. Then Dasha begun learning to roll over, started waking up 4 times per night, and BAM! I am a useless blob with a sore throat.
Having a routine feels impossible; I can never predict when, and how much time I will have to myself (mooove like a jellyfish, rhythm is nothing, goo with the flow). About once a week I get shmancy in the kitchen with a creme brulee, or uber garlic mashed potatoes. But my beloved gemstones and pencils, they are gathering dust.
Until I figure this time management thing all over again, I need a craft that a) can be started and stopped at any point; b) sees progress in utterly flexible chunks of time; c) helps relax/meditate. I’ve decided that KNITTING IS IT! And being me, I’m not going to learn by making, like, a small square or a simple flat pattern. Oh no. I aim to replace my husband’s favorite scarf from H&M as a New Year’s present. (He’s sniffed this out already, mostly because I’m a shit liar).
My ambition is to knit a 8″x90″ version of the “Frostlight” pattern. I obtained 7 skeins of Majestic Tweed by Classic Elite Yarns in lavender, and am using Knitter’s Pride Karbonz 40″ circular size 9 needles. I’ve finished the first skein (resulting in a 8″x16″ rectangle) – and it took me half the skein to truly SEE the pattern; to be able to look at the previous row and my current place, and know the next step without needing to count stitches.
The first 3 inches were the hardest. I unraveled my progress 4 times before managing to avoid significant mistakes. Even so, see the absence of lace between the knitted paths to the left of yellow dashed line? Caused by twisting up Yarn Over stitches.
The next five inches were less painful, but still a harsh learning curve. If Dasha woke up mid-row, I couldn’t proceed without counting stitches and then double checking my count. Some of the lace holes ended up stacked instead of alternating in a zig zag. I was still a total noob, and didn’t suspect that you could just look at what came before to tell what to stitch after.
By now, my brain recognizes the visual pattern of the stitches. As I tried to show in the photo below, when you know what to look for the various types of stitches are obvious: knits, purls, yarn overs, knit2together, and slip2&knit2together from the back.
It’s silly, but I am so proud of being able to come to a lacy junction and deduce the next steps. In the instance beneath, I am deciding what comes after a knit-knit-purl sequence. In the row below, two stitches have been knitted together (pointing to the right), followed by hole created via a YarnOver. Therefore, to turn the zigzag to the left, I need to YarnOver-Slip2ToRightNeedle&Knit2TogetherFromBehind-purl. (Yeah, that lengthy-explanation stitch does have an abbreviation – SSK).
Similarly, in an opposite instance, I come across a point where the previous row contains a YO-SSK-purl; thus I need to k2tog-YO-purl to turn the zigzag of the lace to the right.
Another big thing for keeping the lace holes even and visible: when knitting on the back side of the scarf (in a purl-purl-knit sequence) and reaching a YarnOver stitch to purl onto the right needle, I needed to pay attention to the placement of yarn on the left needle. Often, the YarnOver stitch was on the left needle from front to back. If I left it that way, the stitch would end up twisted (like my first 3 inches).
If instead I placed it from back to front and then purled, the hole kept its maximum diameter, and, you know, actually looked like lace.
I have a couple of great hopes for this scarf. One, that I actually finish it, preferably on time (that’s 3 inches to knit daily). Two, that by the end of it I learn to hold the thread with consistent tension so that stitches of the same type look identical from row to row.