Tuesday, 23 November 2010

My First Lace Shawl!

I have had on my bookshelf "Victorian Lace" by Jane Sowerby for a few years now. It has been much admired but always gently placed back on the shelf with wistful thinking. Until this year that is. One of my new years resolutions was to try a lace shawl. I decided my gran would be the perfect recipient for such a gift and that Christmas was a big enough time frame. The weekend away with my knitting group was a perfect setting to try something new (i.e. surrounded by experts to call on should I need help) and so gave me the excuse to put this book to use and fulfil my new years resolution. I have done lace before but lace socks is nowhere near the same as a lace shawl.

I actually enjoyed it. I like the repetitive nature of the lace pattern and the outcome at the end. I think I also made the right choice in using sock yarn (4ply) rather than lace weight. That said I did have other things in between which meant that this was left aside for a long time. Christmas seemed so far away. This weekend I picked it up again and managed to finish not only the centre piece but also the border and the surprise crochet edging.

I have a nasty habit of getting half way through a pattern and then deciding as soon as I don't take something in I can't do it. This was the case with the edging. I was sure when I got to it I couldn't do it and was contemplating finishing without it. In the end (and possible because it was for my gran) I forced myself to read the how to part at the back and learned how to do a crochet cast on which was the only thing stopping me. Turns out it was easier than I thought. I was ready to celebrate the fact that I was finished and then I read that I had to do some crochet (hence the crochet surprise). I only learned to crochet this year so again I was sure I couldn't do it and again I forced myself to read it properly and give it a go. So after a day of blocking I have my only new years resolution complete. I have finished my first lace shawl and I have learned to do something new in the process. Lets just hope my gran will like it (in the photograph my mum was coerced into posing with it).

I highly recommend the book itself. It has so many beautiful patterns in it with a whole how to section at the back. It has more instructions on different ways to cast on than I knew existed. If I had the time (or the talent) I would knit every single one of the shawls within. I also think that a few of them could be easily modified to throws if shawls aren't your thing.

I have only three pieces of advice if you decide to get this book and use it. Firstly if you have never tried lace before then take a chart and maybe knit something small such as a scarf. It should get you used to following charts as well as knitting with lace. Also, use a thicker yarn such as 4 ply. You can still get that lace effect by using larger needles. Lastly, blocking does make a difference. Before I blocked I couldn't see the lace in the centre piece and the border was nothing more than a curled up edge.

I have plans for more lace but not until after Christmas. Until then I will have to make do with lace socks.

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