Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Estonian lace, and socks. Well, one sock.

Yesterday at the book store I picked up "Knitted Lace of Estonia" by Nancy Bush.

It's an excellent book, well-documented, well illustrated, with lovely photos and lovely projects and easy to read patterns. Which is exactly what I expect from Nancy Bush. (I'll pretty much buy anything she's done, because she did it. I've got sock books by her, and I don't even knit socks.)

There is a history section on Estonian lace, which of course I was interested in due to my ongoing obsession with the history of knitting. Turns out that, unlike a lot of knitting traditions, Estonian lace was ALWAYS about the money. It developed in several coastal towns that were resorts for Imperial Russia, and/or ports where passenger ships (full of rich Russians and Scandinavians) stopped. So the very smart ladies of Estonia started knitting lace to sell to the tourists and make a buck. I in no way think this cheapens or commercializes the tradition; I think it's brilliant. You go, girls; that's my thought on knitting traditions founded for monetary reasons.

Anyway, what I found interesting, in the context of my Backdoor Theory of Knitting Migration, is how the shawls are worked (very short, single point needles with no in-the-rounding like Shetlanders used), in ways that have more in common with Orenburg lace than with North Sea methods. Which might validate my theory, inasmuch as it's possible to validate anything eight, nine hundred years after the fact.

But it's interesting.

As for 'should you buy this', well, I'm of two minds. I suspect most lace knitters already have more lace patterns socked away than they can knit in a single lifetime, or possibly two lifetimes. (I personally could spend one lifetime just knitting lace in German.) So to tell people they need more patterns is a little hare-brained. But this lace is different. It's more textured than any other laces I've seen, and I think I've got at least a nodding acquaintance with every major lace tradition. The only thing I've seen come near it is Azores Lace, and that's little doilies, not wearables. So this stuff really IS different. So any lace geek would be pleased with the book and find it worthwhile. You'll have to decide if it's something you'd want, I guess. Myself, I'm pleased with it. But I'm a lace geek.


I spent the weekend knitting. A long weekend - Monday was an 'off' day for government workers like the husbeast, for President's Day. (We spent our lovely holiday dealing with a backed up sewer line. I'll skip the revolting details; the city fixed it because it was city pipes that were clogged, but EW.)

I wanted to knock out the sock for the Roulette swap. Yeah. About that. While I am still firmly convinced it is possible to knit a sock in a weekend, especially a three day weekend, I failed to take a few things into consideration: It may not be possible to knit THIS PARTICULAR SOCK PATTERN in three days. And MY skill set for sock knitting is... not extensive. Doilies, yes. Socks, no.

There are four inches/ten cm of leg done. Four to go, before foot shaping. So, what, a quarter done? Oy vey.

It's a textured sock, with little twisted-stitch 'cables'. I figured this would be nothing for me, considering I just got done knitting a gigundous allover cabled sweater. But you know what? Cabling stuff on size nine needles is different than cabling it on size twos. Grand revelation of the weekend. Yeah. It's pretty pathetic I had to have this revelation after, what, twenty years of knitting. That's me. Real fast on the uptake.

When the sock frustrated me over the weekend, I worked on baby stuff. I got a pair of booties almost done (they need sewing up and buttons - so cute they give me stomach cramps), and a BSJ needing one shoulder seam and a frog. I put frogs on baby clothes instead of buttons when at all possible... I've got this hangup about buttons on baby clothes. We're all entitled to be neurotic about something.

I leave for Florida this coming weekend, probably Sunday, for two weeks with the in-laws. I'd REALLY like to have the sock done by then. We'll see.

How is it, no matter what, I manage to drive myself insane with deadline knitting? Even when the deadlines don't exist??


Amy Lane said...

Dude--I'm so on board with you on the Nancy Bush books--she's at least two buckets of awesome, isn't she?

And as for the sock? Just about the time I figured I'll NEVER get my test sock done in time to get the original sock done, I actually made headway... go figure...

Bells said...

Oh I plan to get the book. I was holding off but RoseRed just ordered it and now I'm jealous. Someone else described buying books like that as the same as buying art. You buy it to look at. Knitting from it is just a bonus.

I did a cabled sock in three days recently - the red ones that RoseRed posted about - and it nearly killed me.

Have a great time in Florida. Post lots of cool stuff, ok?

Donna Lee said...

I have the Nancy Bush sock books and I love them. I've been looking for the lace book but the local book store is always out. I guess I'll have to use amazon. I had my roulette sock mostly done and wasn't thrilled with it, so out it came and I have to start over. But my husband's birthday socks have to get finished first. I have 5 days to finish number 2. Piece of cake.....

MLJ1954 said...

I want that book. Just to look at the pics.

Socks kill me.

Dontcha find it strange that you can knit incredible lace but a sock throughs you over the edge? I know it does me.

Alwen said...

Oh, let me see - yes! the website is still there!

I really got into knitting because I wanted to knit lace, and I took an online intro. to Shetland lace with Liz Lovick.

Right around that time, there was an online lace knitting symposium at the Knitting Beyond the Hebrides website.

Liz contributed (along with other familiar names in knitting) a .PDF file that compares different lace traditions.

This schedule page lists all the articles:

Her article is called Shetland lace, in the Wednesday row.

Faina Letoutchaia wrote the Estonian lace article (Thursday row). With peectures!

Gad, I love the internet.