Deciphering The Code of Lace

The thing I love about lace knitting lace is that moment when the pattern “clicks”. For me, every new lace project is both a joy and a struggle. The happy moments are when I’m selecting a lace pattern and choosing just the right yarn. I’m also happy as I set up my charts, copying and resizing for my 42 year-old eyes, highlighting the repeats, and arranging it all on my KnitPicks Chart Keeper. Fiber and needles in hand, the cast on begins and my optimism remains.

The struggle usually begins about two or three pattern repeats in. One moment, all is going well, and then suddenly I come to the end of a row and realize something is wrong. Maybe there are two extra stitches or not enough. Whatever the case, I’ve made a mistake and the now the frustration begins. Slowly I unknit each stitch on a hunt to find my error. Sometimes the tinking is short and the error appears quickly. A missed YO or an extra knit stitch. Other times, the tinking continues for rows, the errant stitch cunningly hiding from my squinting eyes, until I throw up my hands in defeat and frog the whole darn thing.

This has happened with every lace project I’ve ever knit. And every time I ask myself why do I continue with this lace knitting. The answer to “Why do I do this?” is because I love that moment when when my brain “clicks” and the secret code of the pattern reveals itself to me. I can suddenly see the paired increases and decreases. I can see the structure of the pattern, the center line and the edge stitches. I am comfortable enough with the code to confidently knit each row with just a quick glance at the pattern. No longer to I need to hold the chart in a white-knuckled death grip as I go.

This time the “click” happened as I sped down the tracks from Providence to New York City on the Amtrak Acela Express. Maybe because I was sitting in the quiet car, away from the distractions of cell phones and where conversations couldn’t raise above a whisper, I was finally able to focus my attention completely on my knitting and decipher the code.

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