Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lace Dreams

Today I started teaching Mony, Tyna and Rofi how to knit lace. They were really interested when they saw me knitting my first lace scarf (Branching Out for you Rav'ers) and were floored when they saw the lace shawl my sister gave me as a wedding present. And when I asked if they wanted to learn lace knitting, the answer was an overwhelming yes. Yesterday we looked at some free Ravelry patterns and they selected the one below. And since I cast on in order to be able demonstrate, I'm going to end up making one as well. In a colour I don't particularly like and in a yarn not really suitable. But once I started, there was no frogging it.

For those interested the free pattern, it's available here. I wonder if my sister is slapping herself in the forehead and shouting at the computer: That's too hard for a first lace project!! I have no idea what is easy to start with or not, but I think this one is doable (too late now...). Things have not gone as smoothly as I thought they would and we barely got through the set up rows without multiple mistakes... I think the knitters are not that good at knitting through yarn overs on the following rows. We'll work on it more on Thursday afternoon.

I wanted Mony, Rofi and Tyna to knit something for themselves. They have been knitting for months and not experiencing the joy of creating something for themselves in all that time. Well Mony has knit herself a couple of sweaters. I honestly don't know where she gets the energy from. Both were her own creations, from pattern to finished product and in the new year I want to work with her and see if we can't write up the pattern and get it up for sale. She has the potential to be a pattern writer because she is so creative and has gone so long without patterns that she can make almost anything just by looking at it.

The other reason I want the three of them to learn lace knitting is that I have a vision! Yes!! Everywhere you look in Cambodia, from the temples at Angkor Wat to certain modern buildings, on the headpieces of Apsara dancers to Buddhist ceremonial umbrellas, you see beautiful, Khmer ornamentation, generally called 'kbach' in Khmer. It's unique, exquisite and organic. Most of the patterns are based on themes from nature like the ones below.

There are many patterns based on leaves and flowers, others on shapes from animals like buffalo and fish teeth and my favourite, pretty little swirls to imitate snail shells. Some are incredibly fine and intricate, others simple. But there is a story and meaning behind all of them.

Now imagine this: 100% Khmer golden silk yarn, knitted into lace shawls of traditional Khmer design. That's the vision! We are a long, long way from that. For one, although Khmer golden silk is considered amongst the most exquisite in the world, production has yet to reach pre-war levels and most raw silk is imported from China and Thailand. As for writing patterns to capture 'kbach', well, I have no idea who's going to be the brains behind that... but I dare to dream that one of my knitters will be able to do it. I am planting the seeds now and hopefully with lots of practice and little encouragement, they can one day transfer the beauty of traditional 'kbach' to knitted fabric.


  1. What a wonderful dream! I'm sure you soon will see it come true, and I really longs to see one of all those lovely ornaments transfered to a lace pattern!

    I hope Mony, Rofi and Tyna soon will get the grip of lace knitting, so talented it can't take that long!

    Take good care of yourself!

  2. I want to give it a try! Let me, let me!!! Designing kbach lace, that is.

  3. Oh yes! Give it a go. Having something to start off with in kbach will be a great learning tool.