When I started knitting Branching Out, I'd never knit lace before. But I understood all the theory behind lace, so I figured what the hell? The whole idea behind Branching Out is exactly what it says it is, right? And all these internet knitters are totally nuts about lace, so why not see what all the fuss is about?
So I started it. And I knit a little, and then I frogged it. And started it again. And frogged it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. I probably knit that first repeat ten times. I took it to Britain to knit on the train (fewer distractions on the train), and I sort of kind of started to get it. I got to the second repeat with minimal disaster - not to suggest that it was flawless, because it was far from it, but I was surviving.
And then I didn't touch the stupid thing for almost six months. It was near the bottom of my list of Christmas knitting, as I had other things planned to give my mother. Also, being that she is a total rock star knitter, I didn't really want to give her something crappy. She never knits for herself anymore, having been sidelined for years by a shoulder injury and now pretty much limiting herself to baby outfits (and they are always incredible outfits), but still. She knows her shit. Plus, she taught me how to knit so I felt like I needed to really not suck.
So between the total sucking and the lack of time and the million other things to knit, it got sidelined. I picked it up again after finishing almost everything else with about two weeks to go. I knit a repeat or so, and then discovered that my lovely laceweight yarn was tangled. Like, really, really tangled. And I stared at it for a while, and then I decided that I couldn't face untangling laceweight.
So I frogged it. It was only about three repeats, but it was still painful. I ditched the yarn and rummaged through my stash until I found another skein of laceweight: Shadow in Jewel.
It was a lovely colour that I knew mum would like, so I wound it up (the previous yarn predated my winder and swift, so it was wound by hand rather poorly, hence the horrible tangle that ate the universe) and cast on again.
And somehow, it stuck this time. I switched over to the chart, having learned how to chart from Pomatomus, which was ONLY in chart form (thanks, Cookie, for making me love your socks so much I was forced to learn charts!), and suddenly I was actually getting it right. I only wanted a little wee mini Branching Out for her to wear to work with the blazers she wears all the time, so I didn't need one that could actually go around the neck or anything. I did some math and figured 22 repeats would do it. I knit it in every spare minute - coffee breaks at work, parties - and I learned to tune things out when I needed to work on the lace rows and join back in on the purl rows.
There was a while there where I had to put it down, because I was convinced I'd run out of time. Beth's Christmas socks weren't done, I still had to weave in eleventy million ends, and there was all that wrapping to do. But then I had two days off, and I finished the sock, and suddenly, it was do-able.
And here it is.
Mum loved it. Her first remark when she opened up the box was "good heavens, did you make this?" Which for someone who is as knitty as she is, is quite a compliment. She wore it around all day and said she was looking forward to showing it off to all her friends. I can't even remember anyone else ever knitting her anything (the same theory as buying books and yarn - too intimidating!) so it was nice to be able to do that. It was probably the most satisfying gift I gave this year.