Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I enjoy knitting socks…but I've mastered the art of the short row heel and toe. I enjoy knitting sweaters…but I’ve mastered shaping, cabling, etc. I haven’t mastered colorwork…but I haven’t tried it yet. I enjoy knitting lace…but I know that I’ve barely scratched the surface.

When I knit the first Birch last year I knew I was hooked on knitting lace. The complexity of lace is challenging to me and the resulting product is amazingly beautiful. In other words, creating lace is satisfying on all levels.

So in a nutshell, my direction is higher: higher degrees of complexity in terms of pattern, not length. I don’t want to create the world’s largest afghan; I want to create a very complicated piece of lace no matter how small it may be. Which leads me to my other direction.

Last year in July I made my fourth visit to Venice, Italy. (I love Venice and would move there in a heartbeat, but that’s another story). During this trip I finally made it to the island of Burano which is best known for pioneering the art of needle-lace. I stopped in at the lace museum on the island; stopped in a couple of shops and chatted up the women who worked there. I learned from both places that the art of Buranese/Venetian lace is dying. The younger generations aren’t learning from the older generations. At one shop I saw an older lady in the back room working on the edging of a placemat. In my mediocre Italian, I asked her if I could watch her work. She indicated her permission and I spent a fascinated half hour watching her take a needle and thread and with the deftest of motions build an exquisite cobweb of fabric.

Being the compulsive overachiever that I am, I knew I had to learn how to do this myself. To my dismay and frustration I discovered that while I could buy oodles and oodles of lace on Burano, I couldn’t buy instruction books or materials. I did see one shop window with a lace-making pillow on display but the shop was closed for the day and I couldn’t even inquire if it was for sale. I did manage to find a few books in my favorite Venetian bookstore about the subject of lace (merletti in Italian; pictures to follow tonight or tomorrow) and snapped them up. I figure that as I master the art of creating lace, I can use the pictures from those books as inspiration for creating my own designs.

Back home in the States, I googled like crazy trying to find sources of information, supplies, patterns…to very little success. I did find a book specific to Venetian lace, bought it and have been studying it. I continue searching the web to glean as much information as possible, hoping that some little piece of new data will appear on the results page.

So there you have it! In the sidebar of my blog I have listed the three big goals I’ve set for myself this year which represent my direction: colorwork (Torino 2006 sweater), lace knitting (Wedding Ring Shawl), and Venetian lace (just patterns and doodles from the book). I’ll still be knitting socks and baby blankets and sweaters for my family as mental downtime from working on the lace but the big focus will be on pushing my knitting envelope as soon as my Knitting Olympics project is complete.


At 10:07 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I have been dropping by for Knitting Olympic news of the Garnstudio sweater. That sweater is on my list to knit and would welcome anyfeedback on it. Thanks.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Zooks said...

Update coming, Elizabeth! Life interfered with my Olympic performance so I had to knint like a maniac to meet the deadline. I have to get new batteries for the digital camera today so the update will be posted tonight or tomorrow morning.

In short, I love the sweater and I'm looking forward to spring weather when it will be the perfect time for wearing it.


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