The struggle usually begins about two or three pattern repeats in. One moment, all is going well, and then suddenly I come to the end of a row and realize something is wrong. Maybe there are two extra stitches or not enough. Whatever the case, I've made a mistake and the now the frustration begins. Slowly I unknit each stitch on a hunt to find my error. Sometimes the tinking is short and the error appears quickly. A missed YO or an extra knit stitch. Other times, the tinking continues for rows, the errant stitch cunningly hiding from my squinting eyes, until I throw up my hands in defeat and frog the whole darn thing.
This has happened with every lace project I've ever knit. And every time I ask myself why do I continue with this lace knitting. The answer to "Why do I do this?" is because I love that moment when when my brain "clicks" and the secret code of the pattern reveals itself to me. I can suddenly see the paired increases and decreases. I can see the structure of the pattern, the center line and the edge stitches. I am comfortable enough with the code to confidently knit each row with just a quick glance at the pattern. No longer to I need to hold the chart in a white-knuckled death grip as I go.
This time the "click" happened as I sped down the tracks from Providence to New York City on the Amtrak Acela Express. Maybe because I was sitting in the quiet car, away from the distractions of cell phones and where conversations couldn't raise above a whisper, I was finally able to focus my attention completely on my knitting and decipher the code.