Sunday, October 01, 2006

Lace as a goddamn metaphor

As Angeltiger and Matilda can attest, I am approximately as feminine as a raging case of prostate cancer (which is to say...not at all). For that and many other reasons, I shied away from lace knitting. Rather, I crossed my fingers, hissed, and backed away like Nosferatu confronted with a plate of Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic and a chaser of holy water.

But there seem to be certain things in knitting that all roads lead to, whether you like it or not. You can bang out only so many big chunky yarn sweaters in short order, or darling hats, or boring blankets, or stripey sweaters before you just get bored. Before the mental high from another hit of Rowan Big Wool begins to lose its edge. And eventually, despite swearing and snarling and vowing you'll never do anything on size oh my god I can't see the needle if I drop it needles, you find yourself fondling the handpainted sock yarn and going, "But I get a finished project out of a skein of this, it's so much more fiscally responsible than a whole sweater..." or the gossamer like softness of a mohair lace yarn and you think "how bad could it be?"

Lace knitting, for me at least, is not mindless. It is mindful, and scary. That yarn slips everywhere, and counting is integral and we all know math is haaard, and for something so airy good goddamn does it show every single fucking mistake. Lace is fraught with connotations- of femininity, of luxury, of uselessness and leisure and emblematic of a giant time suck for something which does not soothe a baby or warm a body.

But there is a point, when you relax, and it becomes something else entirely. It is beauty on a scale you do not get with a sweater. It is miniscule and yet breathtaking. It is like an ode to the incredible geometry of nature- I see in it waves, feathers, shells, snowflakes, geometric and perfect.

It is also a riotous pain in the ass still, and so help me GOD I am never knitting a lace scarf in kidsilk haze ever again.


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