Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The meaning of lace

Birch is complete, one month from its beginning and the timing seems right. Lace was the perfect thing to knit pre-move. My tired, stressed brain needed something that would absorb it completely, wiping out the other worries of the day. Some evenings I only managed a row and on other evenings I somehow worked through a whole repeat. The beauty of a shawl like Birch is its ever-decreasing nature, as I worked by way through the repeats, decreasing 10 stitches each time, it seemed that my load got a little lighter.

It did not even occur to me to start counting stitches and thinking about the end until a week or so ago, I suppose about the same time that I started to feel a bit more moved in and settled.

Now the lace envelopes me, light and warm.

And I love it. It came out just as I hoped and I will remember it as the "moving shawl", the piece of knitting that helped to keep me anchored in a sea of chaos.

I cannot properly express the magic of knitting lace. For me, it's a little like right back in the early days of learning to knit, the time when the frustrating, haphazard throwing of yarn around needles suddenly began to make sense and proper stitches began to form. As my confidence grew I felt the bug take hold; slowly, rhythmically working my way along each row, unable to hold a proper conversation or watch television, completely transfixed by the fabric forming beneath my needles. Well, lace is a little like that. I cannot do other things whilst knitting lace. This is not mindless television knitting, not the sort of thing I can churn out almost with my eyes closed, perhaps checking a pattern or row count from time to time but not expecting any surprises. Lace is special, it requires all of me and for that reason it gives so much more too. Even when the pattern is easily memorized I cannot race ahead, I must stay in the moment for those yarn overs in slippery thread-like yarn are only just held upon comparitively heavy needles; it only takes a momentary lack of concentration to lose one of those precarious stitches and throw the whole thing off.

The strange thing is that I do not even mind when I do find myself tinking back, for there is no point in getting cross. I always knew lace was more to do with the process, I always knew that it wouldn't be quick.

And at the end you get this. Something light as a feather, how appropriate, it's as though this piece of knitting took my worries and spun them out until they felt like nothing, no burden at all.


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