A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Sunday, April 02, 2006

My Two Mountain Lacealong Projects

The official cast-on for Mountain Peaks has come and gone, and even though I am not "contest" material (for many more reasons than the fact that I started way ahead of the date, eager to have my lovely alpaca gliding through my hands), I will be watching how everyone else is doing on this pattern.

For me, it is a whole new challenge. I have avoided working with laceweight like the plague, and distinctly remember how I shook my head in disbelief when Galina Alexandrovna Khmeleva told me that I could just start slowly and work my way down to finer and finer yarn and needles... I met Galina at the Black Sheep Gathering last summer and bought her book, Gossamer Webs, but was totally intimidated. I went around buying light sportweight and sock yarn, nothing finer, thank you very much!

The secret desire to create a cobweb to drape over my shoulders remained though, and I made a couple of false starts, before finally committing to the Mountain Lace KAL. The work goes slowly, with my hands trying to figure out how to scale themselves down to this thin yarn, and sometimes trying to keep from sliding the stitches right off the needles. I am working with bamboo for the shawl, to add a tiny bit of "drag". I also discovered that most of my stitch markers are too big, so luckily I remember well enough where last row's stitches are supposed to be; I am planning to get tiny enough jewelry jump rings (maybe even recycling something around her) to avoid this problem, as putting markers to outline each pattern repeat really helps.

So does threading a lifeline through, and you will notice that yellow thread in the photo below; a finely twisted wool crepe fingering weight yarn leftover from a huge care package of vintage yarns from an elderly quilt guild member who used to knit those skirt/sweater sets on size one needles (I feel awed in her presence just for that, but she is an incredibly detailed quilter as well).

Here is Mountain Peaks this morning, stretched out and pinned down in order to give me the confidence that things really are going as they are supposed to; I didn't find any glaring errors, and the potential is there that this really will block out into an elegant design. I won't be able to keep doing this though, as the shape grows, and even had to tink back a row to fix a few stitches that slid off.

Now, why is this process really going so laboriously? I think it may well have something to do with control issues; I prefer to charge through a pattern, watching it develop through my hands and into the fabric coming out below. I cannot "see" the pattern unfold without repeated stopping, pulling, tugging, etc. to get an idea of stitch definition. I am uncertain if my gauge is too loose; isn't that the way lace is supposed to be? Personally, while I believe that it is important to try new things and not get complacent, the internal stretching this knitting is requiring of me is a bit uncomfortable. I am definitely NOT in my happy place yet!

Which is why this is the tale of two lace knit projects. I realized I was a bit morose about my knitting life this past week. Slogging away on DH's vest, only to be about half-way (which translates into a whole lot more slogging before felting can bring me great joy), dabbling at one or two small projects (I actually made six washcloths last week, while visiting people or watching TV, which will be offered at the farmer's market later in summer), and not feeling the glow of satisfaction. I finally capitulated yesterday to the siren song of the lovely Garnstudio Silke-Woole that my Better Pal sent me last month, and cast on the other KAL project:

Here's Mountain Stream after one repeat from the body chart. The difference between the two knitting experiences is like night and day; Mountain Peaks is where I am learning, stretching, growing and uncomfortable, while Mountain Stream is where I am confident, soaring and satisfied in my knitting. I think they will make a good balance as projects, alternating between the two as conditions warrant. MP will require a lot of concentration, at least through the three 24-row repeats of the first chart, and will take a lot longer, so I will probably begin my ruana once MS is finished. These two types of projects will be my yin and yang to examine and grow through over the next few months, for as Margene always says, "it's the process"!


Blogger margene said...

You're more capable than I at lace. I don't think I could knit two lace projects at one time and the MS, while going along well now, was troublesome in the beginning. Both your projects look beautiful!

4:46 PM  
Blogger Janis said...

Your work is beautiful! I admire your willingness to tackle TWO lace projects (especially as a first-timer) and had to smile at the thought that one is the respite from the other. :-)

3:46 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

YES! YES! YES! That's exactly what I do...a challenging lace, a comfortable lace (or two)...For me the odd thing isn't the weight of the yarn, tho'. Don't quite know why the laceweight merino of DFS is working so well (yes, use those bamboos!), and the DK weight wool/silk/cashmere of HTS is driving me crazy (using Denises - maybe it's that?). My "comfort zone" is Traveling Vines Scarf in Koigu (on bamboo straights!).
Yin/Yang? No doubt. Your lace is exquisite (which is NOT a surprise to me at all...)

7:40 AM  
Anonymous extra virgil oil said...

great work!

7:19 AM  

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