Monday, 26 October 2009

long lacy summer

In the two years I've been here, I haven't seen this bush orchid flower before.  It sits beside the second half of the steps to the front door and quite possibly doesn't get quite enough  sun.  It's not ours, it belongs to the house owner.  I was going to repot it, it's sadly overdue for fresh soil, but as we are leaving here soon I won't risk it.  It grows in a cheap plastic pot which is perishing and breaking away.

There are loads of similar flowers here and a few weeks ago the orchids in pots on the balcony off the dining room were superb.  Huge sprays of beautiful flowers in an array of colours.

I'm seeing this as a prelude to summer.  I hope this summer does not have as many excessively hot days as last year.  Where son and DIL are looking to buy is back down on the Sydney plain.  It's much warmer down there than up here and they remark on the difference anytime they return after being in the inner west of Sydney.  Still, that area is very much more convenient for their lives than up here and it's really none of my business.

So all this is a lead-up to what I'm planning on knitting for summer.  Last year I joined a group knitting lace for the summer.  I'd done a few lacy scarves before but was by no means an experienced lace knitter.  I enjoyed the time and encouragement and learnt a lot.

I'd always approached lace knitting with some trepidation.  It was out of my comfort zone and I had vague feelings of disquiet about knitting lace.  Still, I grabbed the opportunity to be part of a community all knitting lace for summer.  Comments gave encouragement and suggestions.  While I left one work and actually cast  off because that particular  lace weight yarn was making my fingers ache, I did produce some pretty lacy socks and several scarves which I used as gifts  which were well received.

Perhaps the best thing about last year's Lacy Summer was that I finally came to terms with charts.  Now I had done most of a mystery shawl KAL some years ago, but I struggled with the charts.  Charts gave me more problems then than the knitted instructions which were  in my inexperience a frustration at getting pattern repeats right.  Mind you, I did not then realise the helpfulness of stitch markers!

I'm a verbal person.  I've done and done well teaching.  I've lectured, spoken at conferences, preached, as well as  the original teaching.  I've written study notes, short essays, articles and more.  Words are my stock in trade.  Unlike others in my family, my ability to draw to my satisfaction is low.  I was told that lessons would help but I really am not interested in that sort of thing.  My creativity manifests itself in other ways.

Charts frightened me.  I  would take one look and part of my brain would instantly turn itself off.  Symbols  flashed meaninglessly before my eyes and I'd look back to the written instructions with their abbreviations and asterisks for repeats and often their cramped layout in printing and work from there.

I decided I had to confront this somewhat irrational feeling, so I took myself in hand.  I found some simple charts of patterns which I already knew and practised  doing these from just the chart.  I worked my way around difficulties and became more accepting of charts.  By the end of the summer I felt much more comfortable in dealing with them.

Over autumn and winter I have done seven triangular shawls and used the charts only for all of them.  I'm now on the eighth.  Ishbels and Ishbel beret, Aestlights, Travelling Woman,Milkweed,  Springtime Bandit and Shetland Lace Triangles.  There have been some lacy scarves, cowls and neckwarmers too and some lacy socks as well.  I find that now when I am considering a pattern to do, I automatically look to see the chart.  My brain has gradually been re-trained so that what was once beyond considering is now well and truly accepted.  I'm still not what I would call a visually based person, but I can now do charts.

All this is really a lead-up to Bells' announcement that there will be another Long Lacy Summer this year.  If you are at all interested in lace, why not give it a try?  There's no compulsion and we knit what we choose.  I haven't quite made up my mind what I will concentrate on this summer.  I do know I now enjoy lace knitting and find it a great way of switching off my mind from some matters so I can concentrate on the lace.  I'll definitely be using charts again too.

The same post has a link in it to the Southern Summer of Socks which is running again this summer.  Bells and Rosered have decided to continue this summer.  Those from the northern hemisphere are welcome to join, it's not restricted  to us from down here.  Again there's no set formulae to follow.  Proceed at your own pace and comfort.  Perhaps you could do as I am and combine lace and socks.


Bells said...

Oh my goodness that orchid! And what a fabulous photo, the way it seems to jump out from the greenery! Love it!

I think back to my earliest attempts at lace and see how far I've come too - those charts were so scary. My brain used to seize up. But now, we're good! And yay for lace over summer. Looking forward to seeing what you produce Jan!

2paw said...

It is a beautiful orchid. I love charts, I colour them in so my brain sees the colour and doesn't have to 'read' the symbol. I am so lazy!! You are so clever!!

Lynne said...

Congratulations on facing and overcoming your fear!

Yep,I'm with you - it'll be lacy socks at Never-Too-Hot this year!

Cathy {tinniegirl} said...

The orchard is just beautiful. What a delight to have in the garden.