Stage Fright

I finally did it. Silly as it sounds, once I finished the lace shawl I made as a Christmas gift for a special friend, I had a terrible time putting it into the mail. There was a combination fear that it would get lost, waffling about how much insurance to buy, and then the big thing – being terrified that after 75 or more hours of work, she wouldn’t like it.

I solved part of the problem – the question of insurance – by talking to several experienced knitters at various times, and without hinting at what others had said. I was truly amazed that every one of them gave me the same suggestion. It was a little bit hard to ignore – and a little hard to swallow. I couldn’t believe that my first lace project was worth that sort of money!

Since I wasn’t blogging when it was in progress, the quick capsule summary is that I fell in love with a project and bought an entire book so I could make it “someday.” I was led to believe this would be challenging, so I should do something simpler first. I chose a lace shawl, with the intention of making a Christmas gift of it. In a perfect world with no frogging and no learning curve, I could have had it done in 60 hours. Of course, having never done lace before, not only did I have plenty of frogging and a steep learning curve, I also grossly underestimated the time commitment. I’ve learned a lot – starting with just how long it takes to knit 750 yards of very fine merino yarn into a piece of 21″x 72″ holey fabric.

First Lace Project First Lace Project Close Up

The pattern is from Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby, and it’s a cleaned up design from Weldon’s, published in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign. I wish I’d had a really super way to take photos, but the weather wasn’t nice enough to take any pretty outdoor pictures, so I was stuck with doing it in the house. What can’t be seen in the photos is the subtlety of the colors in the yarn. It’s called “Oregon Coast” and it carries the pinks, peaches, blues, and lavenders of seashells against a sandy background.

So what I guess I didn’t say is that it went into the mail on Monday, insured for a lot of money, and arrived safely on Wednesday. Judging by the email I received shortly after that, those of you who had your name on the waiting list in case it was rejected don’t need to get your hopes up. There was something about no one better touch it if they wanted to keep their hands…

The really neat thing is that this project left me head over heels in love with lace knitting. It’s the first big project I can ever remember doing that kept my attention for the duration. I was totally addicted to the entire process from start to finish (with the brief exception of a few times I wanted to throw it against the wall). I loved it so much that I had my next project cast on within an hour of finishing this one, and several weeks later, I’m still having to struggle with the self-discipline involved in not working on it 16 hours a day.

And since I’m talking about my capelet anyway, here’s an updated photo. I’ve worked far enough around the bottom edge to have released two of the scallops from the cable needle now. It looks so wonderful! I’m not doing any more math for a while, but considering my new lace knitting time audiobook has 28 CDs, I’m going to be interested to see which I finish first.

Capelet with 2 scallops free
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Published in: on March 1, 2008 at 8:30 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Glad she liked it!!!! I’ve had a few knitted gifts that the recipients didn’t like (and being family–didn’t even pretend to like), and it was crushing! Most people, however, recognize the work, the love, and the time put into knitting and are REALLY appreciative!

    And by the way–as long as you throw the shawl, ball of yarn, AND the needles, lace bounces off the walls quite nicely. 🙂

  2. It’s good to hear from someone who understands my trepidation. I try to be careful about who gets my handmades these days. Most of my very best works of art belong to people who are no longer on speaking terms with me, which really hurts. It’s made me much more careful about who gets this sort of gift, but this friend definitely deserved it.

    Family seems to look at handmade items with an entirely different perspective, and I’m not sure why. I used to have a friend whose family would complain that she was “cheap” because she’d hand piece baby quilts instead of buying gifts for showers, etc.

    I’ll keep that in mind about the bouncing – and remember to duck! :o)


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