So I had knitted many lace projects, however, coming up with my own lace stitches always seemed like such an untenable challenge. I mean I could do a few simple ones that probably already existed in some pattern book, like the border on my Handspun Shawl #1, BUT, nothing more complex than that.
Charting colorwork is very straight forward to me. Being someone who draws a lot, coming up with a design for colorwork is do-able and fairly quick for me. Charting cables feels pretty intuitive as well. But lace!! I simply cannot wrap my head around it because I cannot see the result by looking at the grids. That's a big problem for me. I make everything, including knitting, by visualizing in my head or on paper or on screen, how things will look. By not being able to see that, I feel lost with making lace stitches. I really respect people who are well-versed in coming up with their own lace stitches.
Last week was spring break for me. Instead of a relaxing week, I decided to tackle this daunting task that I always wanted to learn - coming up with my own more complex lace border for a shawl. And of course being the kind of crazy (and lazy) person that I am, instead of doing some reading on the subject, I decided to just dive in and do it.
I first drafted a chart, and went on knitting it. I thought as long as I have decreases that matched up to the number of yo's, I'd come up with some kind of lace pattern. Wrong. I mean sure it was kinda lacey looking, but in reality, it looked more like a knitted piece with a lot of unorganized holes in it.
After coupla swatches, I realized the easiest way for me is to design it as I knit, so I could visualize it as I go. Then charted out each row as I finished that row. I don't know how real lace designers do their designing, but this process worked much better for me. Then I revised the stitch with the next version, and the next version. Total I knitted 3 swatches, but I ripped back quite a few times in between.
With the final design, I went ahead and made a crescent shape shawl.
The yarn was originally Lana Gatto Mignon in pure white. Then I over-dyed it after completion. Last time I did over-dyeing, it was with "Thinking of Waves" and the dye job came out uneven. I suspected it was due to the fact I forgot to wash the shawl first with soap to rid of spinning oil. So I made sure I rinsed the shawl well before I mixed up the dye. It dyed up very evenly this time.
I love the brownish purple color. I love this shawl. I love challenges.
I definitely still cannot just design lace stitches by charting it out, and I can't say I understand fully how to design lace stitches, and I honestly still don't have a full grip even on how this one worked out the way it worked out. But, I'm getting slightly more comfortable with it, I think. It's definitely something that will take a lot more swatching than colorwork or cables. Although I still don't really see myself as a lace shawl designer, I sure am proud about coming up with this stitch because I'd overcome a big challenge.
I didn't exactly have a relaxing spring break. I didn't do much except being a bit frustrated looking at my lace chart. I also wrapped up some test knitting and began to work with tech editor on the ginkgo patterns. I'm not complaining because I do love designing and I'm so grateful of all the wonderful testers that helped me out, but all these are still "work." Not truly a spring break. Ultimately, what I enjoy the most is a relax evening, doing mindless knitting in front of TV, watching some British detective show on Netflix, and not worrying about taking notes of my knitting, or checking notes, or counting stitches, or feeling embarrassed about mistakes on the pattern sent to testers, and trying to figure where the mistake was, etc.
This week returning to teaching, I don't feel well-rested at all, and that's a total bummer because I really need some relaxing time. So I think a mindless knitting, not for pattern, is in order this weekend.