It’s time to talk about lace again. We’ve swatched plenty of patterns that mingle SSKs and K2togs among well-placed yarn-overs, but lace can be so much more than that.

With thought and skill, lace can become a breathtaking landscape of meandering roots, restful open spaces, radiant stars and diamonds and leaves and flames. That is a fair description of Marnie MacLean’s Farro shawl. I want you to have this experience for yourself.

A Delicious Knit
Lace is the best delayed-gratification project there is. On the needles, it looks like a crumpled wad of tissue paper. No matter how hard you try to stretch it open on your thigh to show friends (which we’ve all done), they just don’t get it. Only after you’ve bound off that last stitch, dropped the bundle of chaos into warm soapy water, given it a swish, let it rest, and pulled it out does the magic start.

Where once we saw only a jumble of loops, a landscape unfolds. With each stitch you pull taut and pin to the blocking board, the picture gets more and more astonishing. When the last pin is placed, you finally see your masterpiece for what it is—and your heart swells with pride.

Much of this glory depends on some crucial decisions you make at the very beginning, long before you even start to swatch. If you swatch, that is. Most people tend not to swatch for lace shawls since there’s no concern about making a garment that fits. Your shawl is your swatch.