I like a challenge, and I love a project where I learn a new technique or two. And I've been drooling over other people's lace project pics on Ravelry. So pretty! So delicate! So impressive!
I got a set of Knitpro interchangeable needles for my birthday this year, so I had suitable tools. Found a massive cone of lace weight merino on Ebay, so I had plenty yarn to use up (seriously, I could probably knit a shawl for my house and have enough left over for the shed). Spent weeks checking out other peoples' projects on Ravelry, and settled on the Haruni shawl as it had been tackled by lots of beginners and no-one seemed to have given up and burned the pathetic results. And it was free.
Started the shawl on a Sunday afternoon after a big roast dinner, and within a few minutes I was considering quitting- this garter stitch tab thing, how does it work? I think it took five attempts and even then it looked like a child's first project. Still, I persevered. And continued to feel like a small child learning to use crayons. Or a cat trying to open a box of Whiskas treats. My hands were clumsy and i kept dropping the knitting.
Finally got comfortable with the skinny yarn, but following the pattern felt like doing differential equations (my Maths nemesis). I couldn't watch TV while knitting, couldn't even pay attention to music. My brain only had enough room for trying to follow the instructions, and then trying to figure out why the stitch count bore no relation to the pattern, ripping back to the lifeline and starting again.
Eventually I decided that this would be a practice shawl, and that I wouldn't feel bad about if it was a mess of mistakes (after all the cats had already decided that this soft yarn was destined to be a cat blanket). That did the trick. Instead of ripping out knitting, I just tried to fix the stitch count on the purl rows, making sure I had the same number of stitches on each pattern repeat by adding a YO or K2tog where it looked about right.
I finished it yesterday, and it just looked like a smooshed tangle of yarn. Then I looked up 'blocking', and here is the result.
Yes, you can see the uneven bits where I tried to fix the mistakes I'd made in the previous row. It's very far from perfect, but I am still ridiculously proud of it. I have now got the 'muscle memory' I think I'll need to make another, better, one. I also have an understanding go how charts work and how to 'read' my knitting and know more quickly when and how I've gone wrong.
I think I need to go and knit a couple of toys to get over the stress of Hard Knitting. Watch this space.