Friday, September 07, 2007

Lessons in lace

Last night I decided to have a go at starting the Ziggy scarf and full of optimism I got out a ball of mohair, some needles and the pattern. I wish I could say I made lots of progress, but after three failed attempts with the mohair and one failed attempt with cotton I'm going to have to admit I couldn't even get past the first row of the lace pattern.

But, all is not lost I am learning from the experience and I've picked up several gems of knowledge from those failed run throughs.

First up, Steelbreeze is right... It takes a lot of concentration to knit a lace pattern, even a really simple one like this. It is shockingly easy to make a mistake as the instructions for each row are very complicated and read like some sort of intricate encrypted code. Watching television is not doable. Holding a conversation is not doable. And having an insistant cat trying to get you to tickle his belly, steal your pattern or eat your wool is not at all helpful.

Second up, mohair is near impossible to rip out (or frog if you prefer). It sticks to itself like mad and subsequently tangles the instant you try to rip it back. It is also very delicate and prone to breaking with very little effort, so once tangled or knotted it is doomed. I went through three attempts at knitting this, ripping it out and starting again before putting the mohair away and reaching for some simple dishcloth cotton.

Third, swatch. Try out the pattern on something simple, cheap and easily ripped out - such as dishcloth cotton. Make sure you can understand the pattern, know what all the stiches are and have practiced them before going near your yarn of choice.

Fourth, use stitch markers. Trying to keep track of where you are on the row and is hard enough, so put something on your needles to help. The best method of using them I'm not sure of yet, since I'm still experimenting but the row where I used them was the closest I came to a good row.

And finally, count your stitches. I can't emphasise this enough. Every single row I tried, I lost stitches and then spent a good ten minutes staring at the row I'd just knitted trying to work out where they'd gone.

Which about sums things up. As things stand I need to rip out everything I've done, take a deep breath and start again... Perhaps perseverance and patience should be on the above list of lessons learnt?


steel breeze said...

I found beaded stitch markers a PITA, as they kept getting knitted in. Ideal would be some lengths of cotton - one website recommended you "knitted" them in, so as you moved up, you got vertical lines in your knitting as markers.

Also, a nice idea is a "lifeline" - weave in a line of something slippery on one row (say at the end of a repeat). If all goes well, slide it out and repeat. If not, you can frog right back to that point and not lose stitches.

Julie said...

At the moment I'm using my usual standby - paperclips! I may have a go at lengths of cotton though.

I like the sound of this lifeline thing and may get you to show me how to use one, if I may? It sounds like it may be handy for anything involving a pattern repeat and a handy marker for the start of the repeat.

I could also do with some pointers for a slippery yarn me thinks...