Need a holiday handknit? Time for a Schmatta!

REMAIN CALM.

Dear Ann,
How can I put this? STEP AWAY FROM THE KIDSILK HAZE.
The last time I knit lace, it was a simple picot edging on the Brittany Jumper from Jil Eaton’s Minnowknits series, for my little friend Baby Rose. An 8-stitch repeat, over a couple of hundred stitches around the bottom of the skirt. First I had the terrible twisted-join problem, which almost made me take the pledge never to knit in the round again. I would only realize the mistake after knitting the lace edging perfectly and then discovering it was not the hem of a baby’s dress, but a Mobius strip. Eventually, I overcame this problem. But whenever I made the teensiest mistake in the sequence of yarnovers and k2tog’s, what to do?? Ripping back partially: not an option! (I didn’t then know Emma’s trick about threading a ‘lifeline’ through a row well below the mistake and THEN ripping back.) I must have re-started the thing a gazillion times. After that inch or so of picot trim, it was automatic pilot on stocking stitch, but it was a hard road getting there. But it looked ever so cute at Rosie’s citizenship ceremony when she wore it to take her solemn baby oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
Is Birch really worth it?? Do you not fear, just a little, that when it is done and you have sacrificed the best years of your knitting life to it, you will throw it around your shoulders, put on a dashing striped Rowan beanie, look in the mirror and see….Mrs. Tiggywinkle?? Jemima Puddleduck?? Insert your favorite Beatrix Potter character here????
My advice to you, if you will not give up this madness and knit something normal: can’t you do a practice swatch of less than 299 stitches??? Just to get a little good at it before you take on the whole massive mess?? You could even do your practicing on something a little less wispy than the Kidsilk Haze, just to get the hang of it. Anyway, you know I wish you success. Godspeed, you freakin’ nut.
My last piece of advice, I promise, is that you not consider this project to be Car Knitting. This is sit-still, kids-far-away, good-lighting, just-had-your-first-cup-of-coffee knitting.
xox, Kay

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. OUCH. Jemima Puddleduck.
    I just thought that Birch would go well with my white t-shirt and khakis.
    So this swatch idea. I’ve been reading about this. You actually make a small thing BEFORE you make a big one? Hm.
    I know this sounds dense, but it never occurred to me, the swatch queen of the universe, to do a swatch of this. I figured, heckfire, it’s just a little pattern. How hard could it be? Well, once my medication is regulated, I’ll take your coolheaded, momlike advice.
    With all this Gee’s Bend talk, I’m looking around wondering what I could contribute to this effort. I could sew up all my swatches into a really ugly blanket. But watching Becky sew up all the beautiful swatches people have sent her may be as close as I want to get to that much sewing.

  2. I’m not being smug here[really ,I'm not],but this pattern is really easy ! I think a lot of people are letting the wispy yarn intimidate them.I so,so wish you could just pop round – I could then explain to you how to read your knitting,how to keep the rythmn going so you don’t make mistakes,how to hold the yarn loosely & not make your stitches too tight…how easy it is.
    Once yo’ve knit a couple of repeats you’ll know why it’s worth it.A light,silky cloud of beautiful little leaves – one of those’don’t believe you made that’ projects.
    I’d make more progress if it wasn’t so boring – it takes a bit longer to knit than normal simply because you have to watch to make sure the stitches don’t throw themselves off the needle !

  3. Dear Emma,
    I fear your reference to Birch as ‘boring’ might put Ann over the edge. We’ll miss her, won’t we?? I for one promise to visit her in the loony bin.
    xox Kay

  4. Boring? Good grief! Ann is probably already using the kidsilk haze as a straight jacket and on her way to Chez Looney. And that is BEFORE she tries to wear it and finds kidsilk haze all over her white shirt and khakis. Ann, if you finish it, I’ll send you a lint brush as a reward, you’ll need it! ;)

  5. Well,it hasn’t shed at all whilst I’ve been knitting it.
    There’s a good post on the forum with a better description than I can write of how to keep track of the pattern – Felicity Miller,I think.

  6. When I tried to do Birch in a smooth 4 ply alpaca, I called it many names – boring was not one of them…..
    Quitters of the world unite!!!
    From Jill in a Birch-free zone……

  7. Emma–You can hardly imagine how I wish I could just pop round and have you get this thing on the rights. It’s the one little problem of virtuality: it’s not literal.
    Birch problems = new to lace knitting; thin fuzzy yarn; hard to read what has been knit. I have long believed that the biggest part of learning to knit is learning to recognize what you’re holding in your hands. Is that a purl? Two stitches knit together? A yarnover?
    I love the warm sunny sky that hangs over you and your Birchsperience. I am definitely going to keep at it–a teeny swatch in Cotton Glace is going to give me a window into what this pattern is up to. Come to think of it, I may just stop there.
    At which point I can join Jill in the beautiful world of Recovering Knitters of Birch.
    x0 Ann

  8. LOL to Recovering Birch Knitters everywhere!!!
    (I know I’m sounding like our friendly Webring neighbor LocQueen but LOL LOL!!!)
    xox and lol, Kay

  9. I’m one of those mad enough to attempt Birch! The first couple of attempts were a disaster but I finally got into the swing of it (although I still have to watch out for row 3) and it is now so mindless that I do it as my commuter knitting across London.
    By knitting it in public I know I’m going to have to finish it and am trying to have it done by 2nd September to wear to a fashion show. A totally unrealistic deadline but it means I may finish it by the 20th to wear to my mother’s birthday party!

  10. I’ve just been healed of my Birch envy. 5 balls of Aurore mohair in a lovely eggplant color sitting in my stash, and after leafing through the latest Rowan they WERE (please note the past tense) calling out to me spookily, “the Biiiiiirch…knit the Biiiiiiirch”. Alas, no more. I needed the reality check :-)

  11. Hello Yvonne–
    Knitting Birch in public idea is exactly what I should NOT have done! I’m totally on the hook now, blabbing on in el blog and such.
    You’re an amazing knitter. Cannot wait to see your finished Birch. Please send along a photo so I can pass it off as my own . . .
    Best, Ann

  12. I dunno guys, now I’m tempted to try it just so that I, too, can pull out my hair. Or to see if I can hit “the zone” that marathon runners hit and that Emma and Yvonne have clearly hit. (Or is that “the wall”? I’m more of a sitter than a runner, myself.) Since I just worked my very first, very basic lace (a 2 st openwork motif on a cardigan) maybe I’ll wait until the dust has settled on Birch. :)

  13. Hey, YVONNE!!! Been thinking about you and wondering if the fashion show you speak of is the one you were planning when we met up last spring. I hope it goes gangbusters!! And that Birch does, as well.
    Thanks for stopping by, Love, Kay

  14. Hi KAY
    yes it’s that fashion show! A year in the planning and quite a large chunk of my work for months. The young designers, models, dancers etc have got so used to seeing me knit at rehersals and fittings that I’ve been challenged to wear something I’ve made to the event – they also specified it was to be something they had never seen me wear!
    I doubt it will be Birch though as I don’t have enough time to finish it before then. I did wonder about just casting off and treating it as a shaped stole for the night and then going back and finishing it properly later (probably never!)

  15. Dear Yvonne– I give you permission from Mason-Dixon Knitting to wear Birch in any form in which it currently exists, to any function that you are called upon to attend. You must be thrilled that the fashion show is coming to fruition. Best of luck, Love, Kay (Surely you’ve got closets full of stuff you made that those kids haven’t seen, woman!!!)