Lace Knitting vs. Bus Knitting


Lace knitting or knitting lace, which have slightly different definitions but which I'm using as the same thing for the purpose of this discussion, is complicated and requires focus and attention.  I'm pretty confident when in comes to knitting in general but not when we are talking about lace.  I'm not a confident knitter of lace.  I know how to do all the basic stitches required to create lace but I find I get lost in the patterns.  I have learned to read a chart although I'm still most comfortable with the page after page of written out instructions.  I can not, however, easily invert the chart if it only shows the right hand side of the pattern.  And juggling a 4 row pattern repeat with a 14 row pattern repeats along with a 12 row pattern repeat across a shawl drives me to distraction.  I throw up my hands and walk away when I get to that point.


The opposite of lace knitting is bus knitting.  I don't actually spend much time on a bus anymore but Peggy does.  She talks about what she likes to knit on the bus and it is basic, straightforward and simple.  And the project has to be small enough to fit in a backpack, bag or purse.  That does not mean the final product won't be totally stunning.  Usually it is.  But it is never a complicated pattern that requires too much focus and attention.


Back in the days before I learned how to spin and before I come back to weaving, I knit pretty much constantly.  I did sweaters as Christmas presents for family members.  I knit scarves and throws and blankets.  I knit more baby blankets and small throws for Project Linus than I can count.  They are a wonderful organization that gives hand knit blankets to kids in the hospital.  I knit warm heavy wraps and shawls and sweaters for myself back in the days when I lived far enough north that those things are needed during a long cold winter.  What I discovered with all that knitting is I would flip back and forth between bus knitting and complicated knitting with each project.  I wasn't doing lace at that point but I loved fisherman's knit sweaters full of cables and bobbles and lots of complexity.

I have always been a monogamous knitter.  I have one project on the needles and that's what I work on till it's finished.  OK.  Complete disclosure here - I do have several projects that are on needles but for whatever reason, I hate them and am not likely to finish them in my lifetime.  They don't count because I'm definitely NOT working on them. Peggy has always been much more free wheeling with her knitting projects.  She has her bus knitting project that she knits on the bus going to and from work.  And she has her more complicated projects that sit at home and wait for calm and quiet, focus and attention.  I've decided Peggy's approach to knitting has lots of advantages.


I just finished my oh so complicated and oh so wonderful lace project.  Yes it took lots of tinking (that's knitting backwards... as in to tear it out and redo it to get it right) and there was a fair amount of swearing during the process.  For some reason I only managed to memorize the outer knitted on lace border in the final two inches.  But I totally love the result.  You may have seen it because I posted in on both Facebook and Instagram.


The pattern came from a wonderful book called Ultima Thule  by Denise Bell and Chris Dykes of Lost City Knits.  I picked the pattern because knitting a square shawl was different than anything I'd ever done and I loved the fairly easy lace work.  Peggy and Denise helped me pick out the colors.  My inability to pick colors is the perfect topic for another blog.  But I digress..  I bought the yarn from Lost City Knits along with the book back in January of this year when we were both vendors in Oxford, MS.  My hope was to finish the shawl by July when we would both be vendors in Kellyville, OK at the Fiber Christmas in July fiber festival.  I missed that deadline but only by a couple of weeks.


My current bus knitting project is a free pattern from Purl Soho.  I'm working up this scarf in some of our yarn, Penelope, to be a shop sample.  Now that I am a couple of feet into this scarf I went back to look at the pattern and realized the image doesn't look anything like my scarf.  Well, look at that.  Without realizing it I rewrote the pattern.  Both the listed pattern and my own version are super easy.  It's just three stitches repeated and repeated and repeated till I run out of yarn.  It's boring but I love the look of the scarf and I can work on this bus knitting project while I'm talking to customers in the booth, talking to my daughter on the phone or watching the totally crazy political hysteria unfold without missing a stitch.  Yes, it's bus knitting at it's finest.

My next lace project will be the Kailyard Pi shawl from Denise's book.  I've gone over the pattern very carefully and I think I can do it.  It a circular shawl about 6' in diameter so it will take quite a bit of time and quite a bit of yarn.  I would love it in black but won't put myself through that horror.  If you see some stunning and very complicated shawl or scarf knitted up in black or some other dark color, be sure to admire the knitter.  That's very hard to do.  I have some wonderful white Swiss Lace yarn sitting here that would be wonderful.

To get your own copy of Denise and Chris' book, Ultima Thule, go to their website at  They have the book for sale along with stunning hand dyed yarns.  You won't be sorry.