Lace Poetry

I will be honest. I cringed inwardly when I saw the topic for The Amazing Lace Challenge #3. I enjoy reading poetry now and then. But writing poetry? That’s definitely a challenge for me. I had to think about it for a while. I scribbled various English words. I read Catullus, Homer, and Ovid to my team members for inspiration. I consulted dictionaries and looked online for rhyming help. I even tried American Sign Language. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Meanwhile…

…my thoughts moved in a different direction: lace IS poetry. I view lace as a visual represntation of poetry. Holes, increases, and decreases are all beautifully—even magically—arranged to create simple or intricate designs. Patterns give us instructions to create lace using words or chart symbols. These chart symbols are just stylized language units and are most representative of the lace poetry form.

Lace poems have a language and construction of their own. They are read from the bottom-up, and from right-to-left.* They can be composed of however many units you require. It takes practice to understand, and even appreciate, the lace poetic form. Oftentimes, lace poems look complex or messy at first glance. (Sometimes they are tiny and need to be enlarged first.) After a minute or two, you start seeing formations: yarnover paths, twists and turns, rising and descending peaks, or stars and crosses. Finally, enlightenment dawns and you smile and sigh happily, gazing at the lace poem, imaging hours of knitting pleasure, anxieties, and the beautiful, finished lace.

Remember Team Member #1, Diamond Lace? Her language units consist of knits, yarnovers, knitting 2 stitches together, knitting 2 stitches together through the back loops, and slipping one stitch, knitting 2 together and passing the slipped stitch over the knitted together stitches. Here are the visual representations for each unit:


With Diamond Lace’s units determined, the next step is to write out her lace poem. We went through the written instructions line-by-line for the lace panel and translated them into lace poetry.


Do you see it?

Diamond-shaped buds sprout from the zig-zagging branch…
the branch grows and climbs everlastingly towards the sky…
all the while it creates new paths here and there.
No matter what direction life takes you…
the will to choose is always there.

Aha, I’ve achieved a small poem about Diamond Lace by indirect methods.

Note: I needed to chart out the lace pattern to achieve mirroring on both sides. (I double-checked; the written instructions don’t mirror the lace.) I was able to figure it out by means of this lace poem. If you’re interested, I created a page with the complete chart, printable version included. If you see/find any errors, please do let me know. : )

*Unless it’s an advanced lace poem, where the action happens on both sides. In this case, you alternate reading right-to-left and left-to-right.

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7 Responses to “Lace Poetry”

  1. sp8 Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 8:48 pm

    And here I was going to suggest a limerick. I’m way out of my league with you. Sheer genius and beautiful too.

  2. gmtlvsred Says:
    July 18th, 2006 at 9:54 am

    Greetings from the Amazing Lace “Pit Stop”

    your poem definitely did not flop

  3. Theresa Says:
    July 9th, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    What a great description of your method!

  4. bethblue Says:
    June 29th, 2006 at 7:21 pm

    Nice poem….and it’s in a language I understand!

  5. Chris Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    lightbulb moment Thank you!

  6. Deb Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 6:58 pm

    For what it’s worth, I always have to chart lace patterns out like that. It’s too tedious to read all the verbiage – I’d rather “see” the lace in chart form so I can see what was below a stitch etc. Very lovely poem too.

  7. Dave Says:
    June 26th, 2006 at 7:25 pm

    Your charts are wonderfully clear — I can think of a few publishers that would benefit from your input :-)

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