20 June 2009

No Lace, Mrs. Bennett!

Dear Mandella,

Were you, like nearly all women in the western world, glued to your television for that wonderful BBC miniseries adaptation of Pride & Prejudice? I'm talking about the "wet T-shirt Darcy" version, with Colin Firth as the smouldering hunk of rich man at Bingley's side. It's only in that version we have Mr. Bennett protesting, "No lace!" when Mrs. Bennett is in raptures as she recounts the clothing of Bingley's sisters. It is my DH's favorite line when I start in with my Victorian Lace Today or A Gathering of Lace books. He likes to tease me because he knows that I am wont to have the P&P dvd playing whilst I've been toiling away at my paltry attempts to knit lace.

Oh, it should be easy, shouldn't it? After all, it's just knits and purls and yarn-overs and decreases, right? I'm finding that even in the midst of this simplicity I am at times confounded.

My latest attempt is the scarf on page 100 of Victorian Lace Today worked with a skein of Mini-Maiden (from ColorSong Yarns web site) in the Vintage colorway on US 7 needles. I'd attempted it on my own, but was confounded by having one too many stitches at the end of the first charted row, then by having one too few stitches at the end of the third charted row. That didn't count dropping the yarn and needles several times as I attempted the crochet cast-on. Besides that, I was trying to work these on a pair of needles with regular points. The yarn kept splitting.

Then I moved to a pair of Bryspun straights. It was a tad better, but not great. The author put in a symbol for K2tog, but didn't indicate if that meant to P2tog or what on the wrong side. After all, the unshaded empty square meant to knit on the RS and purl on the WS. If the unshade square has a right-slanting virgule it means to K2tog on the RS, but what about the WS? In the back of the book it indicates to P2tog when that symbol occurs on the WS, but the instructions on that page don't say to do that. It merely states K2tog.

My head was about to explode, so at last I admitted I could not do it on my own and telephoned my Lace Knitters Anonymous sponsor M and asked for a private 12-step knit-along to get this working for me. For preparation I photocopied the charts from the book and then enlarged them.

This past Wednesday, when I was scheduled to see M after the evening meal, storms blew in to the south and west of us and were predicted to be over our heads by 5:00 p.m. We postponed until Thursday, which was just as well because I'd already had a long and difficult day. Then, at 6:00 p.m., M telephoned to say that the storms appeared to have gone around us so I should come over anyway. Which I did. I quickly tracked down my lace chart holder (a mere $10 from KnitPicks) and my yarn, but I couldn't find the Addi Laci needles I'd purchased for this project earlier in the week. Thus, I dumped an entire box of assorted needles (straights, dpns, circulars) into a bag and hoped they would be among the mess when I arrived at M's.

Nope. No US 7.0 Addi Laci circular. Thus, I picked up a US 6.0 circular and a different yarn just for practicing the stitches and the pattern.

Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our desire to abuse ourselves pitifully whilst trying to discern the pattern-writer's instruction.

Step 2: We acknowledged there was a Knitter greater than ourselves.

Step 3: We made a conscious decision to turn our life and our will over to the whims of Knitting as we understood it.

Step 4: We took yarn, needles and crochet hook in hand and learned the crochet cast-on.

Step 5: We made a searching and fearless inventory of the instructions.

Step 6: We confessed to ourselves, another Knitter, and to whomever else would listen (including the Dog as we understood him/her) that we were just going to do the best we could.

Step 7: We learned that the first mistake was we should have purled the first row, so we confessed our short-sightedness.

Step 8: Having made amends where appropriate, we moved through the chart one square at a time without regard for what was playing out on the television (some stupid "reality" show, but we kept the sound muted because we were most interested in the local weather info that was scrolling at the bottom of the screen on account of the severe storms around us).

Step 9: We continued working the chart, un-knitting where appropriate and keeping the swearing to a minimum.

Step 10: We took a deep breath and glanced through the remaining instructions, applying the same principles we'd already learned.

Step 11: We opened a bottle of wine.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we vowed to carry the message to others.

Thus, I was able to get through the first 8 or 9 rows of the chart with only one little hitch. And then I properly sorted out that rat's nest of needles in my bag. I'm happy to say that everyting is in it's place. And the US 7.0 Addi Laci needles were at home and among some other yarn.

Of course, when on Thursday night I cast on with the Mini-Maiden and the correct needles, I dropped the crochet hook a few times. Then I was missing one stitch on the 3rd row of the chart, but I was able to pick up a dropped yarn-over. By the 9th row, however, I was short 2 stitches and couldn't figure out where I'd lost them. This is probably because I was trying to watch The Mentalist, then The Daily Show, then The Colbert Report -- all while trying to knit lace. I frogged the entire thing (again) and went to bed.

Last night I put on a DVD of As Times Goes By, series 3, and I am happy to report that I am at row 21 of a 28-row chart and there have been no glitches whatsoever.

When it comes down to it, I think what really matters is that you have the right thing on television. :)

Hugs and good knitting to you!


1 comment:

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Judith,

I whole heartedly agree!

Hugs Euphoria