Knitting doesn’t have a lot of rules. Really it doesn’t. Which is good, as I am not generally inclined to follow arbitrary rules.
It has some pretty solid guidelines. Things like “a gauge swatch will help give you some idea of the characteristics of your finished object” or “your stitches will be smoother and more even if you block your knitting.”
And it has some traditions. And some people get really upset if you play with those traditions. Everyone who has ever sent me a message that starts “I’ve been knitting longer than you’ve been alive,” (never ever the sign of a good email) “and I’ve never seen anything so scandalous in all my years,” (if the most scandalous thing you’ve encountered in your long life is in a knitting pattern, you are either very lucky or have a truly admirable sense of equanimity) “don’t you know it’s impossible to have row 1 be a wrong side row/work a decrease or increase or cable on a wrong side row/knit into a stitch from a previous row?!?” has gotten my spiel on the flexibility and adaptability of knitting, and how you can indeed do all those things if you just take a deep breath and give it a try.
But I actually think some pretty great things happen when you take a good hard look at those traditions and then gleefully abandon whichever ones don’t suit you at the moment. And that’s just what Barbara Benson has done in her newest book, Big Yarn, Beautiful Lace Knits. She takes the idea that lace has to be knit with tiny yarn on tiny needles (which oh by the way means knitting anything bigger than a handkerchief will take ages to finish) and tosses it right out the window.
The result is a collection of lacy accessories (a dozen neck things like shawls, scarves, ponchos or wraps, four hats, two mitts, a blanket and a vest) in big, bold yarns.
Stitches that would be dainty in tiny yarn are graphic in chunkier yarn. The change in scale lets the structure of the stitches and stitch patterns really shine.
And using big yarn makes your knitting ever so much quicker. For example the whole Sparrow Grass Hat (above) clocks in at under 3,000 stitches. That sounds a tiny bit daunting, but for comparison, the last fingering weight hat I knit had 3,000 stitches in just the brim. The last pair of socks I knit had 3,000 stitches in just the leg of one sock. Getting a whole hat in that many stitches that makes for an awfully quick project (something to keep in mind if you’re planning any holiday knitting and starting to feel a teeny tiny bit rushed).
Big stitches can also feel a bit less daunting for newer lace knitters. It’s easier to see what’s happening and understand the logic of the fabric when your stitches aren’t an eighth of an inch wide. The book starts with just enough of a primer (on things like lace, charts, swatching, and blocking your knits) to help lace newbies feel grounded but not overwhelmed. And it follows it up with lots of projects where you can practice on something that feels manageable (like the Asymmetrical Balance scarf above) or just dive in and make something showy (like the Signet throw below).
If you want to take a look for yourself, you can see more details about the projects on ravelry or find the book in your LYS or on amazon (as always, amazon links are affiliate links). Plus I’ve got a copy to send home with someone! Just leave a comment here telling me about the lace project you knit with the biggest yarn. For me I think it’s Anticlastic or Petiole, depending on how strict you’re feeling about how you define lace.
Leave a comment between now and the end of the day on Friday the 25th to be entered to win. You need to be an adult and have a US mailing address I can send the book to. I’ll pick a winner next week and email them for their mailing address (so please use a real email address when you leave a comment, no one but me will see it and I won’t use it for anything other than emailing the winner). I need to hear back from the winner within 72 hours of notifying them or I will pick a different winner.
There are some disclosure-y bits I think I’m supposed to say. Barbara and her publisher sent me a copy of the book to review. The pictures in this post are from the book and were taken by Gale Zucker and are totally hers not mine. Amazon links here (or anywhere else on the sight for that matter) are affiliate links (it helps me pay for the site without putting ads on it), so if you use them amazon sends me a tiny percent of your purchase price. You probably knew all that, but it’s better to say it and be sure!