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Tale of Two Kiris

Dear Ann,
I wasn’t going to blog about this because it’s kind of weird, but maybe that’s why I should blog about it. Here goes:
I appear to have knit two Kiris. Well, almost two.
Kiri The First
I made it to the 10th repeat (of 12) (they get longer with each repeat, did I mention that?). I was almost home. But bad knitting karma was just sucking the joy out of it for me. I kept making Mistakes of Inattention and Mistakes of Having No Idea What I’m Doing and Mistakes of Stitches Sticking Together and Mistakes of Children Pestering Me Without Pity. These mistakes seemed, maddeningly, to become more frequent as I became more familiar with the pattern. I kept having to un-knit multiple rows, because Lord knows you can’t rip this stuff out. The unknitting of the Kidsilk Haze, it is the Torture of the Damned! It is the polar opposite of the Superfantastic Knitting! (I refuse to call it ‘tinking’, because tinking sounds like something that might possibly be pleasant.)
But I soldiered on, glum as all hell. Then I discovered, WaaaaaaAAAAY down below, some sort of weird dropped-stitchy thing. Like, many REPEATS below. I was sure I hadn’t made a mistake that far back and not noticed it, but there it was. I’m still thinking it might be a snagged stitch that got pulled out of shape, and that with a little jooging it might work itself back to rights, but by the time I noticed it, I was not in the mood to jooge. I was not in the mood to mess with this thing for one more second. I was in the mood to throw it in the corner and never speak of it again.
And yet (cue silent-movie player piano), there was my Innocent Exchange Recipient to think of. She has done nothing wrong. Bless her heart, she deserves her Kiri.
And here’s the thing: I had enough Kidsilk Haze (have you noticed it’s not called ‘yarn’?–because it’s HAZE) for a second Kiri. Starting over seemed like the only way to go.
I know that’s irrational. If I screwed up Kiri The First, what was to stop me from screwing up Kiri Deux in the late innings? But I felt that if I could just get another chance, on a clean slate, I could do it. I could do it correctly and without all the achy-breaky back-knitting.
Kiri Deux
The great thing about irrational beliefs is that sometimes they are absolutely correct. I started again. I have sailed through to the 12th repeat. I have not had to un-knit a single row. As far as I know, there is not a mistake in it. Now that I have abandoned the illusion that the Kidsilk Haze will obey the laws of physics, I sort of enjoy it. It’s like miming the act of knitting. You feel no weight on the needles. You can barely see the haze floating hither and thither between the points. So you put on white makeup, you make the motions of knitting, and it turns into little leaves of fern lace.
What’s the epiphany here? When I was knitting Kiri Deux, I stopped thinking about rows or repeats. I thought of each leaf individually. I know each row of each leaf. As I knit each leaf, I could tell whether the stitches, decreases and yarnovers were arranging themselves as they should, with that lovely leafy symmetry. Then I knit that row of the next leaf, and the next. It’s hard to explain why this slight mental shift made any difference, but it made all the difference.
That’s knitting; it’s not for the stupid. It requires a constant, graceful kind of intelligence. At least when you are knitting little fern leaves.
So now, get this: I’m ready for the edging! Woo-hoo! A new lace repeat to memorize, and new clarity and grace to be acquired by the skin of my teeth. A world-class bedsheet blocking experience awaits me, just around the corner!
(What happened to Kiri the First?) Well, it looked so cute on Carrie when she modeled it, that I suggested making it into a small-scale shawl for her to wear to the High Holiday services this autumn. Since the Jewish holidays are the only occasions on which she will submit to girly dress, and since she seems to think that a mohair lace shawl is the most sophisticated, grownup garment possible, she jumped at it. So now I’ll get to try out that tip about putting Kidsilk Haze in the freezer in order to rip it back. If that fails, I’ll take the scissors to it. (Does that make me a Bad Ass Knitter, Wendy? I hope so.) If anyone has any ideas on modifying Kiri for a child, I’m all ears. I was thinking of maybe doing an eyelet edging so that I can thread a satin ribbon through it so that it won’t fall off her shoulders…..? Can I get an ‘amen’ on that?)
In other breaking Lace News, the July/August issue of always-wonderful Piecework magazine is devoted to all manner of lace: knitted, bobbin, needle, crochet. (There is one mind-blowing picture of bobbin lace-in-progress, with at least 50 wooden bobbins hanging from it.) Really delightful historical material, including a piece on a 19th Century ‘penny dreadful’ novel called ‘Tina’, about a poor, beautiful lace-maker and the specific lace patterns she made while defending her virtue. PLUS a Nancy Bush pattern for an Estonian lace shawl that is to die for. (Polly, remember that midnight blue Kidsilk Haze? I think it’s going to be Estonian when it grows up…..) And once I’m in the Baltics, can Latvian mittens be so far? (Yes! They can be very far!)
Please don’t think I’m weird about the 2-Kiri thing,
Love, Kay
P.S. When I dragged Kiri the First out of its hole to take a picture, I couldn’t find the mistake that made me scrap it.




  1. “A constant, graceful kind of intelligence” … love it, wish I’d written it, totally agree.

  2. KSH is very much its own. Wonderful results, but a pain to work with.
    Any idea what to do with Kiri the 1st? You could begin undoing it as a project of its own. Then again is it worth the time?

  3. Too funny. I can’t help you with the KSH. I gave up on it long ago.
    But Kiri I will be perfect for the High Holidays! I loved getting all my new clothes – it’s the best time for feeling that much older and that much more grown up. Carrie will be beautiful in it – it’s so synagogue!

  4. Yes, yes, yes. As one who feels she was recently a young girl who resisted girlish dress, I can’t describe how thrilled Carrie is to have this foisted on her. I was against girlish dress to the core, but was also deeply desirious of those few items of girlishness that I did love OH SO MUCH. And the whole make it all again without tearing out the first one is exactly what I do when I do that. I once made 3 almost-right hats before I was finally happy with the 4th and ripped the almosts back into balls.
    Yes, I dig the understanding of each leaf as leaf. You are not alone. You have embraced the knitting brain.
    And, just to inspire jealousy: my most treasured wedding gift is a bobbin lace doily that a friend made. I saw it in progress and took a photo of it and it was mind-boggling. She started it the year me and the eventual Mr. met, and finished it for our wedding, which was a five-year span (I always liked him, I just needed convincing that marriage was necessary). Five years, five kazillion crossed threads, and it is stunningly gorgeous.

  5. I’ve stroked the lovely KSH in shops many times, but usually slowly withdraw my hand because of the horror stories. Now that I see it can be tamed with a constant, graceful kind of intelligence, I may give it a whirl.

  6. That wasn’t weird at all – very interesting! Good luck with the edging ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I have some mangled balled up mohair lace weight (Jo Sharp, not KSH) that has been unknit several times. It looks pretty awful now. I just do not have the attention span required for knitting lace shawls, especially not MOHAIR lace shawls. Which of course makes me want to even more. I am mightily impressed by your perseverance.

  8. Coming out of lurkerville —
    I’ve been surfing the net some and ran across something called — rowan kidsilk night — described on jimmybeanswool.com as follows:
    Kidsilk Night yarn has sparkle! If you’ve always loved Kidsilk Haze, but wanted something with some glitter, you’ve found the perfect yarn! New Yarn and available Aug/Sept.
    I’m intrigued — imagine Kiri with a little sparkle — worn for that special holiday party.
    Has anyone seen it?

  9. Wow Laura–It sounds like the marriage of Kidsilk Haze and Lurex Shimmer. I always liked the Lurex Shimmer but I’m not too sparkly. Or rather, all my sparkle is from heat and humidity. Check out the Rowan website and see what they’ve got on it. xoxo Kay

  10. It’s beautiful. You’re beautiful. Carrie will be beautifuller in it, and will remember it and you forever.
    Estonian shawl? Check for errata.
    Last year was the poncho. This year, lace. Who’da thunk?

  11. That’s it exactly ! Knit each leaf. Both Kiris are so very beautiful. Carrie will love her’s,which makes it worth the effort.
    I will e-mail you. When I finish my Kiri !

  12. amen, sister. i’ll be a witness.

  13. Kiri is gorgeous! And it will be beautiful for the High Holidays, as around here (Cincinnati) you can never quite tell what the weather is going to be like! You’ve definitely inspired me.

  14. aw hell i’m sorry I ever suggested the ksh. so glad carrie’s going to be properly raimented for the high holy days. dress your fambly in mohair and girliness . . . xoxox

  15. I understand completely. I started over three times on a recent project without ripping back. It wasn’t until I finished it and got it right that I was ready to rip out the two other offending pieces. Kind of feels like a safety net…

  16. Kiri sails once you really focus on each leaf as you make them up. Beautifully done, even with the evil KSH!

  17. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I am inspired by your beautiful creation. I firmly resolve to pick up my own exiled KSH Kiri and finish it. But first I must finish the Flower Basket Shawl (knit out of a sensible yarn) intended to be a going-off-to-college gift for my son’s girlfriend. And this may seem like a “well, duh” moment to you, but with only a chart and no verbal instructions, this shawl is easy. The chart is actually making it easy to visualize and knit each separate flower basket. All those WORDS! Definitely, that’s the problem! I’ll be sticking with the Kiri chart from now on. I’ll send you its portrait when it’s done.

  18. A new breed of KSH? This is something! Something DANGEROUS. (And something to remember — resist end of summer sales to save a little room in the groaning stash for fall yarns.)
    Love the post (but I think the PS is probably the best part) and yes, the leaf approach is the way to go. Miles of cashmere leaves for the wrap for my son’s therapist — and I loved every leaf because my fingers knew what to do. Watch hockey and knit leaves? Sure. No problem.

  19. Ah yes, I know the mental shift of which you speak. I achieved it while knitting Kiri on an airplane, somewhere around hour #14 (NY to HK direct…) I think the sleep deprivation jump started the process a bit.
    I think you should win an award for knitting two KSH Kiris when you only needed one. Just saying…

  20. Yay for las Kiris! I’m ready to hit row 23 and as I’ve never done lace, I’ll take Gale’s advice and try to figger out putting in a lifeline. The blue KSH is (to use my girlie’s favorite word) AWESOME. I am using a thin double-ply natural colored handspun that I bought from a spinner in the sheep building at the Maricopa County Fair. Will return often to gaze at your work for inspiration. Love your blog!

  21. Boy Kay for someone who resisted the lure of the KSH for so long you’ve certainly gotten your chops now! And how serendipitious for your lil miss, she’ll be stunning for the New Year, mazeltov!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. You are TOTALLY a bad-ass knitter!

  23. Amen to the ribbon in the eyelet. And woo-hoo on the 2 Kiri triumph. I know the Kiri is a tricky & sly one, by focussing on the 2nd, the 1st got jealous and healed herself, just to get your attention back.

  24. There is not only one new breed of KSH this fall, but two:
    Kid Silk Night (with a gentle sparkle added in) as well as Kid Silk Spray (which will be softly variegated). Oh, and a bunch of new colours of the regular KSH. Very exciting shade cards, I must say!

  25. The ribbon trim through eyelets is perfect so that the nearly weightless shawl does not fall from the shoulders of the child and become trampled upon during the inevitable post-religious ceremonial scamper. OK, I’m Episcopalian and maybe they do things differently in a synagogue, but I’ve never been in church with a child who didn’t break into a mad dash upon entering the hall.
    And you are weird, but that’s why we like you. We’re weird the same way.


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