I’m knitting a Victorian lace Spider’s Web Shawl

It will be a full circle of lace, light enough to be folded over as a shawl.  I’m making it because the pattern looks glamorous and isn’t too hard (I hope) and I have this amazing hand-indigo-dyed silk lace-weight yarn (Shimmering in Magic Bean) from A Verb for Keeping Warm in Berkeley, CA.

I started the project with just stitches and a set of double-pointed needles in July.  Now, I’m on circular needles, thank goodness, and up to well over 300 stitches per row – and many, many rows to go.

I’m finding the knitting to be a meditative practice, between the rhythm, and the indigo that comes off on my hands as I knit.  (It’s part of the final finishing process of hand-dyed indigo, and washes off easily with soap and water.)  The pattern takes my mind elsewhere.  It centers me somewhat, as I feel the yarn on the needles and my fingers, and listen to the pattern, inwardly count the repeats and stitches.  I am connected to my hands and the background vibration of the pattern in my mind.

When my mind strays too far, I lose that inner rhythm, and have to stop and count, checking the pattern.  If I keep knitting when I’ve lost the inner pattern rhythm I get it wrong, and then when I find the error, I typically have to un-knit back at least 2 rows to fix it.

I find that if I keep knitting on it regularly – ideally every day or every other day – that the rhythm of the pattern comes back quickly.  I also can do this and watch TV, which helps to keep me from focusing too long on the knitting, but can’t give my full attention to the TV or I don’t feel the pattern and make mistakes. At over 300 stitches per row and growing, it takes some serious unknitting to recover, and yes, I know this from experience.  I once spent time over two nights undoing nearly 3 whole rows to fix an error.  The undoing and fixing are decidedly not centering or meditative, especially around some tricky decreases.

I start back to school next week, which will mean my nights and weekends will be crammed with schoolwork.  I am hoping I can continue to find a little time each day to knit, as a meditation practice.

We’ll see.

Spiderweb Shawl on row 75

The green tube in the middle is part of the "belly button" cast-on process, which will be removed when I'm done.

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