Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's a technical term...

An acquaintance coined the most interesting new term the other day: lace face.  As the story goes, she's taking a lace class and had to miss the first class, so the teacher has been working with her via email to bring her up to speed.  She had been writing an email to the instructor with questions, and her success report to date, and started to explain how she was still getting her "sea legs" but obviously that term just didn't seem appropriate.  Instead, she started to type "lace legs" and, not liking the sound so much,  re-worked it over to "lace face" stating for the teacher that she was "getting her lace face on".  When she told me about this, I fell in love with the term.  It's perfect.  I experience "lace face" all the time. In fact, I think 'lace face" actually has four stages.

First I'll begin to the stage Betsy was referring to when conversing with her instructor.  When you're working on multiple projects, sometimes it takes a couple minutes when switching from one to another to get your groove back on, but never is this more true than when you've been working a "tv" or "take-along" project full of mindless knitting, and jump over to a lace project.  There is a different rhythm, a different part of your mind that has to activate, and the contrast can take from a couple of rows to a chart repeat to adjust to.  You've got to get your game face or "lace face" on.  I regard this as a "stage three lace face" in which the conversion is quick and primarily painless.

"Stage one lace face" occurs most often in the classroom.  I see it when I'm teaching.  The classroom version is different because more than a state of mind, it refers to the slightly greenish pallor, tinging blue from oxygen deprivation new lace knitters get as they white knuckle their needles, squinting at charts and swearing under their breath at the seemingly savant instructor who smiles and flits about the room saying encouraging things like "soon you won't even need stitch markers" with the bravado of annoyingly quickly acquired expertise.  This stage of lace face will advance to the other stages... it's merely the slow-motion version of the conversion from the leisurely knit/purl to the rollercoaster k2,yo,k2tog,yo,skp,yo,k2 experience.  In stage one, the mind is working very hard and slow to write the new muscle movements, eye coordination and life saving breathing techniques; it is learning to make the adaptations necessary for being "lace ready."

"Stage two lace face" can be a permanent lace knitting stage for the occasional, however accomplished lace knitter, or it can be a brief period of pre-mature self confidence in the classroom.  Stage two is without question the most humorous stage for the observer, knowledgeable in knitting or not.  This is the period in which we think we have our "stage three lace face" on, when in fact, we are still drifting in our minds back to a more leisurely automatic rhythm that guides our hands to make rows of pretty stitches in no way related to the pattern we are trying to accomplish.  Stage two lace face is most often marked by a reddening of the ears, pinching of the mouth, heavy sighs, colorful blasphemes and tinking.  This is what gives your knitting instructor her swagger.  It means you're getting it and that light bulb is on the verge of trading its flicker for a blinding glow, marking not only your successful comprehension, but the elation teachers feel when a student assimilates their lesson.

Jumping back now to stage four lace face: You know her.  She's the one in your knit group that knits non-stop from beginning to end, telling tales, laughing, gasping at your real life drama of the week, pausing only to help someone else correct their blunder - kindly and knowingly, all the while working some cobweb fine fiber in some multi-chart lace pattern she memorized! which isn't even present for reference! and never makes a mistake.  She has achieved the "lace zen" - that magic place where her mind operates a sub-track that hums a rhythm of increases and decreases whist she's catching the bartender and ordering another round.  "Stage four lace face" is the expert lace knitter... the poker face knitter... the knitter who seemingly isn't even aware she is knitting.  It is a point of confidence shattered only by over imbibing, fire and the stage two lace face sitting next to her who suddenly goes postal and snatches Zen's knitting off her needles in a fit of frustration.

Which level of lace face have you/are you experiencing?

Betsy - thanks for letting me steal your term.  I'll be using it at my next "terrorize students with lace" opportunity.