Thursday, 9 July 2009

A Tale of Two Ishbel Shawls

Once upon a time, I wrote plaintively of wanting to knit Ysolda's Ishbel shawl. I felt driven to start what so many others had started before me. I pinned so much hope on her and so despite having several projects on the go, many commenters said go for it.

So I did. Ishbel looked like this.


And we sang her praises at the time. She was declared beautiful. The alpaca/silk blend seemed just right.

Things went downhill from there and I neglected to mention Ishbel again for some time. I don't like failures but I don't like to pretend forever that I never have them. We all have projects that just don't work, right? So I'm mentioning her now.

Ishbel failed. I finished the stocking stitch part and launched headlong into what I can only describe as an entirely un-intuitive (to me) lace section. I bombed. About three rows in and I was in dog's breakfast territory.

I believe that with a lot of lace, you get a feel for it right away. I've never persisted with a lace pattern that didn't feel, early on, if not easy then at the very least, enjoyable or relatively smooth. Lace is enough of a slog without labouring over every single stitch.

At the time I blamed the yarn. Not that I didn't love it. It was a long ago given gift from Julie. I'd held onto it for a long time deliberating over the choice of project. But I blamed the yarn rather than myself or the pattern because I thought perhaps the slight variegation was obscuring my view of the lace (let's not discuss the appalling lack of correct numbers at the end of every row).

So I quietly frogged Ishbel and put the alpaca/silk away for another day. Soon after, I started Ishbel again - a remarkable feat of perseverance on my part, don't you think?

You might remember. Ishbel II looks like this - made from forest green Wensleydale.

Wensleydale Ishbel

And look, really, there's absolutely nothing wrong with her. I flew through the stocking stitch part and even began fairly optimistically with the lace. It's ok. I'm managing. Or was I before Tour de France began and I lost focus on anything that isn't a race knit.

Will I continue? I don't know.

The lace doesn't speak to me. It doesn't sing. What's wrong with me? The vast majority of the knitting world adores it. Some people finish it in less than a week. And I keep shrugging my shoulders and wondering what I'm missing.

Suggestions welcome.