I love knitting books; I love the patterns, the commentary, the yarns used, the photography. They inspire me to try my hand at new projects, and they give me an escape into another world for however long I can immerse myself into their pages. According to my Ravelry library, I own 90 books on knitting and spinning, and that doesn’t include the few that aren’t in their database from Germany and Japan. So I’m easily approaching 100 books–many of them concerning knitting lace.
My most recent acquisition, however, is altogether different from any other lace knitting book I’ve read. Myra Wood’s CrazyLace: An Artistic Approach to Creative Lace Knitting is, in fact, diametrically opposite every other lace knitting book I’ve read. From the section “What Makes It Crazy?” —
The whole concept is wonderfully simple. You have complete freedom to decide what to do next with each stitch you knit, row after row. Every row is a new opportunity. Using charts or not, there are an infinite number of ways to knit lace with very little planning. It sounds crazy, but you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, with very little to no planning ahead.
Wood begins with a fairly thorough introduction to lace knitting, teaching the concepts of lace as well as providing some common charted stitch patterns. She briefly discusses the cultural history of lace, and gives nods to Margaret Stove’s Creating Original Hand-Knitted Lace and Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting Patterns. She genuflects to Elizabeth Zimmerman, describing the Pi Shawl as a “wonderful building block for creative lace knitting.” Indeed. She also recommends Mary Walker Phillips’s Creative Knitting: A New Art Form, which is, unfortunately, out of print.
Wood also covers overall shaping, as in how to create a triangle, circle, half circle, or square. She teaches the Russian join and crochet cast on and bind off. Her stated ultimate goal is to get a knitter “to the point where you go wild doing uncharted, free-style lace knitting to your heart’s content,” but she starts off with “sampler style knitting, combining different charted lace designs,” to teach some traditional stitches and give the knitter a foundation in the structure of lace fabric and and understanding of how lace stitches work together.
I must admit I am intrigued by the concept and by the interesting and beautiful creations she displays in her book. However, her carefree approach is not for everyone. I’m fortunate to know many extremely gifted lace knitters, some of who create beautifully intricate patterns for publication, and they may not be comfortable with the randomly irregular crazy lace approach.
Wood has convinced me, though, and I can’t wait to get started.