Saturday, April 25, 2009

Socks, Calcetines, Swapetines

Spring is here in Wisconsin--in fits and starts. Yesterday the temperature was 85 F and today we have rain, grey skies and chilly temperatures. Daffodils and tulip have closed their blossoms to protect themselves from the inclement weather. Only two weeks ago the snowdrops were the only flowers around!
I love these brave little flowers that look so fragile but are so very strong. They hold such promise of warm weather to come, even though they shoot their leaves through snow and like chilly temperatures.

Es la primavera aquí enWisconsin--!poco a poco! Ayer la temperatura estaba 29 C pero hoy está 15C--con lluvia, cielo gris y viento! Brrr. Los tulipanes y narcisos han cerrados sus flores para protegerles contra el tiempo. Hace dos semanas los "snowdrops" eran las unicas flores en los jardines. Me encantan estas flores, tan valientes. Parecen muy frágiles pero son muy fuertes. Tienen el espero del tiempo caliente pero sus hojas aparecen en la vieve y frío.

I have had such a good time participating in a Spanish sock exchange called "Swapetines." The exchange has brightened a very busy spring! Above are the socks in their final form, with the ceramic buttons made by Jennie the Potter. Jennie makes wonderful mugs, bowls and other items for the knitter who wants more than yarn and needles in her life! She decorates the items with cute sheep and unravelling balls of yarn. Not too cute and not too serious!

Encima son los calcetines para Penelope, mi receptora de Swapetines! Me encanta participar en Swapetines. He comprado los botones para les calcetines de Jennie la alfara. Sus tazas, tazones y más tienen ovejas y madejas de lana que se dehacen. !No demasiado mono y no demasiado serio!
The buttons were absolutely perfect! I was very happy to find yarn dyed by a local woman and buttons from a neighboring state. When I send something to another country, I try to find items that are locally made, even if they look as if they could be from anywhere!! Some of my favorite souvenirs from my travels are very ordinary, everyday useful items; only I know that they came from a location far away.

Pienso que los botones son perfectos. Estaba muy contenta de encontrar una lana teñida por una mujer de mi ciudad y botones hechos en un estado a lado del mío. Cuando envio algo al extranjero, me gusta enviar algo hecho muy cerca, aunque parece que fue hecho en qualquier parte. Unos de mis recuerdos preferidos son algo cotidiano muy utíl. Pero, yo se que vienen del extranjero.

(I know that I rotated this photo before uploading, but somehow these socks are sideways! Sorry!) I was worried that the wool socks that I made would be too warm for central Spain. So I made some short, summer socks out of Cascade's Fixation. I have made many of these for myself. I wear them with sandals, even though it's not very stylish. I continue to love them, however. For these socks, I used one strand of solid purple and one strand of variegated yarn. For the cuff, I made a hem with a picot turning row.

Me preocupaba que los calcetines de lana dieran demasiado calor en Espana. Por eso, tejé calcetines de algodón para Penelope. La lana es Fixation de Cascade--es de algodón y un poco de elástico. Hice muchos calcetines iguales para mí y los llevo con sandalias aunque sé que no son elegantes. Para estos calcetines, usé una hebra (hilo?) de un color y una hebra de multicolores. Para el puño tejé una vuelta de "picot" para doblar y formar un ribete.
I made my favorite heel, eye of partridge. When you alternate yarns every two rows the effect is quite striking.
El talón es de "eye of partridge" en vez de un talon tejido entero a vueltas acortadas.

Finally, in the package to Spain, I enclosed some postcards of my town, and a wonderful knitting magazine published right here, KnitCircus. If you have never heard of KnitCircus, click and check it out! It has knitting patterns, some recipes, book reviews and more. My next project is the Kate cardigan from issue #5, the one on the cover.

Finalmente, puse cartas postales de mi ciudad y una revista de labor de punto--publicado en mi ciudad. Mi proximo proyecto es el "cardi" de la portada. Penelope,!! espero que todo te guste!!

I hope that my sock exchange partner likes everything that I sent. I hope it all represents a little bit of the knitting here in the Midwest!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


In a few short months, my precious Daughter #2 will flap her wings and head off for college. This fledging has been a wonderful chick in our nest. She was an inquisitive and excited little sprite who danced and pranced her way into life. She's been a devoted child, who still loves to spend time with her older parents, charming them with her tender heart, hard work and good spirit. Although normally I love the transition of winter to spring, with the lengthening daylight , this year it is bitter sweet. I know that her time with us is shorter and shorter.

Daughter #2 has delighted us with her love of choral music. She began singing in a choir at age 4 and now participates in four choirs! She loathes solos, but finds that choral participation is the only time she truly relaxes--and buries herself in the intertwining melodies. This month, as last year, she scored a "#1" in the regional competition of solo and ensemble vocal music. This means she will go to the state level competition again--something that makes her very proud.

My precious girl is on the right, one of her good friends (a superb soprano) is on the left. They sing in three choirs together.

My daughter selected her college of choice based on their fabulous choral music program. She does not want to major in music, but she wants to continue to take voice lessons and to participate in a hard-working and excellent choir. Unfortunately, although this college accepted her, it did not offer her a scholarship. Two other colleges accepted her and offered her scholarships. We have some tough decisions to make. I would love to stop time and to keep this precious daughter at home for years to come. But, her time has come to flutter her wings and we all have to let go. Sigh.

Meanwhile, on the knitting front, I've also been experiencing some frustrations. Last year I started a Dale of Norway sweater for myself. It's in my favorite color--red! But, it took back seat to items for other people. I started with the sleeves and only finished the sleeves. After completing the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl, I dug out the red sweater. (after I located it, that is. For a few panic-ed weeks I was sure that I had lost it. Found it in the back of a closet.)

When I pulled on the sleeves I realized the truth about why I stuffed the project into the back of a closet! The cuffs were too tight! I couldn't hide from facts--I needed to re-knit the cuffs. There was no way around it. I got out the scissors.

I cut off the cuffs and then picked up the stitches and re-knit the cuffs going down, rather than up. That means that the cuff's edge was bound off rather than cast on. See---

Trust me, it looks better in person.
My cut-and-pick-up-stitches solution worked for only sleeve #1. For some reason, the textured stitches of sleeve #2 refused to cooperate. I finally gave into my fate. Here's sleeve #2.

That is what Tiur yarn looks like after being knit into a textured sleeve, sitting one year in the back of a dark closet, and being ripped out. Kind of like spiral pasta soaked in tomato sauce. The solution?
A good long soak in wool wash, hanging to dry, winding and re-knitting.

Here's sleeve #2--version #2. What's wrong with this picture?

Notice the pink chain where the cuff should be? Because cuff #2 on sleeve#1 was knit DOWN rather than UP, I didn't want to knit cuff #3 on sleeve #2 UP rather than DOWN. I didn't want two different looking and different feeling cuffs. So, I cast on provisionally, using pink yarn for a crochet chain. After taking this photo, I picked up the live stitches as I undid the chain, took out my smaller needles and knit the cuff for sleeve #2 for the second time. Then, I finished sleeve #2 for the second time and I have two complete sleeves back in the knitting bag. Back to where I started two weeks ago. Definitely a knitting time warp!

Now, on to the body!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


!Hola, guapas!

My apologies to my Spanish knitting blogger friends! I have neglected my duty to blog about my Swapetines efforts! Let me explain.

Pilar, from Tejiendo en la Isla (Knitting on the Island), lives in the Canary Islands. Despite living on gorgeous islands where the snow never falls, Pilar is an enthusiastic and talented knitter. Following the success of Sockapalooza, Pilar started a Spanish sock knitting exchange. The name, Swapetines, is a play on the English word "swap" and the Spanish word for socks "calcetines". I love the fact that knitting has put me into contact with people around the world. I also love practicing my terrible Spanish. I will try to put some of this post into Spanish.

Lo siento, mis amigas de Swapetines, de no haber descrito el proyecto de calcetines. !Estoy enamorada de participar en Swapetines! Puedo leer castellano mejor que puedo escribirlo y hablarlo. Por favor, !corregid mis errores!

My swap friend is from Spain, a country where the sun shines hot and bright in blue skies. The landscape is frequently arid, in comparison with my verdant Wisconsin. She said that she would probably wear the socks indoors--the weather being too hot for wool socks and the Spanish women being much too stylish to wear socks with sandals! My yarn choice reflected these considerations.

La receptora de mis calcetines es de España, donde el sol brilla fuertamenta en un cielo azul. La tierra es árida; al contrario mi Wisconsin es muy verde. La receptora me dijo que va a poner los calcetines en casa, por que hace demasiado calor para llevar calcetines de lana. También las espanolas van de moda cuando salen de casa. No llevan calcetines con sandalias! He escogido una lana de acuerdo con esto.

The yarn was hand dyed by a woman I know named Sandy. I selected her "Pair of Sox" yarn, a single ply of wool and nylon, in the color of the hot sun, arid landscape, blue skies and the sea and ocean! The yarn seemed as if it would be long-wearing when worn without shoes.

Una mujer de mi región ha teñida la lana a mano. He eligido la lana que se llama "Pair of Sox", una lana de un solo hebra de una mezcla de lana y polyamid. Las colores son del sol brillante, la tierra árida, el cielo azul y el mar. Me parece que la lana durara bien, especialmente cuando los calcetines se llevan sin zapatos.

For a pattern, I selected "Rock and Weave" from Blue Moon Fibers, whose sock yarn is known as "Socks That Rock." The cuff is made separately, using the linen stitch. I love the picot edging and the fact that buttons are used to close the cuff!! I reinforced the sole of the sock using wooly nylon and I purchased hand made ceramic buttons from Jennie the Potter. I would love to send the recipient one of Jennie's coffee mugs, but the air postage would be prohibitive. To see her buttons, click here.

Como patrón, elegí "Rock and Weave" de Blue Moon Fibers, la suya lana para calcetines se conoce como "Socks that Rock." Hice el puño por separado usando el punto de lino. Me encantan el ribete de "picot" y el hecho que el puno se cierra con botones. Reforcé la planta con un hilo que se llama "wooly nylon" y compré botones de cerámico hechos para Jennie la alfarera. Me gustaría enviar una taza para café hecha para Jennie, pero el franqueo para enviar tal cosa es muy caro. Para ver sus botones, clique aquí.

Here is a close-up of the cuff. Tomorrow, I'll try to sew in the ends and attach the buttons.

Aquí está una foto de primer plano. Mañana, voy a coser los cabos de lana y los botones.

Finally, here is a sock I just finished for myself. I absolutely love wearing hand made socks. Fortunately, here in Wisconsin the winter is long and I can wear wool socks every day from November through mid-April. These socks were made with Trekking XXL yarn and my standard flap-heel sock pattern. I made a fake cable on the sides, using four twisted stitches. Very warm and cozy.

!Vengo de acabar calcetines nuevos para mí! Estoy enamorada de llevar calcetines que hice para mis proprios pies. Afortunadamente el invierno en Wisconsin dura de noviembre hasta abril. Hice los calcetines de la lana "Trekking XXL". Anadi una trenza falsa, usando puntos de vueltas (??). De abriga.

I love all colors and styles of socks. Most people in Wisconsin are very informal. Wearing wool socks with every-day shoes is very acceptable. All of my winter shoes are wide enough to accommodate my wool socks. My 83 year old mother, however, dresses very carefully. She wears primarily dress shoes that accommodate only thin socks. She had to buy new shoes when I started making wool socks for her to wear in the winter! Her feet aren't quite as formal, but she is warm!

Me gustan todos colores y todos estilos de calcetines. La gente en Wisconsin es informal. Es aceptable llevar calcetines de lana con zapatos de cada día. Todos mis zapatos para invierno son tan anchos que puedo llevar calcetines hechos de mano. Sin embargo me madre se viste muy cuidosamente. Lleva zapatos de moda que aceptan calcetines finos. !Cuando empecé a hacerle calcetines se compró zapatos más anchos! Por eso ahora tiene calor en el invierno.

!Besos y abrazos a todas!

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I am a proud woman. For some reason, finishing a lace project makes me feel like a superior human being. I understand that many sweaters and other projects are more challenging, warmer and infinitely beautiful. But, I happen to find great satisfaction in knitting lace.

For many years I have wanted to make a piece de resistance and I have worked my way ever upwards in complexity and ever downwards in thickness of yarn. I'm almost there.

I finally finished Sivia Harding's Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl out of Cashwool. And I added a knit on lace edging rather than the garter stitch and cast off that she called for. If I must say so, I think my ultimate product is outstanding! Beautiful! A work of supreme diligence and patience! And the mistakes are hard to find!!! (Many, many thanks to Jo of Celtic Memory Yarns who encouraged me to leave two of the mistakes in the shawl. They would have been cumbersome and unsatisfactory to fix. And, I dare you to find them!!)

Best of all, the shawl is a true wedding ring shawl: I can pull it all through my wedding ring!! For some reason, I have always wanted a shawl so fine that I can pull it through a wedding ring!!
This photo and the one above capture the true color, called "ocean."

This and the following photos are terrible on color, but show the lace. This is a field of leaves, outlined by fan ferns.
This is the rose trellis and the leaf border I added.

A little demonstration of the drapiness of the shawl.
And a view of one side.

Here is the shaping of the faroese styling. After a bit of the blocking.

And, the horrifying mess before getting it all pinned out.

This is the point where I do a lot of praying. Such a blob of twisted and interlaced thread. Who would imagine that this blob would be a thing of beauty?? This is why knitting lace makes me a superior human being. ;) Who else would have faith that the thousands of hours knitting have not been in vain? Who else would have faith that the thing will not fall apart when taken out of the sink? Who else would dare to wear the shawl, fearing that it would be caught on an errant nail, or a twig, or a sliver of wood?

Only a knitter would have faith and daring to make, block and wear a lace shawl--and not put it away in a drawer wrapped perpetually in tissue paper. Which is why I did not give the shawl to my mother. I couldn't part with it. I thought she would save it "for good", fearing to wear it lest it get caught, tangled or harmed. I plan to wear this shawl as soon as the Wisconsin weather gets a bit warmer--when I can throw it casually over my shoulders and have it billow behind me as I walk outside. With a carefree toss of my head, I will reply to compliments with, "Oh, this? I made it!"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oh, the weather outside is frightful....

"And the fire is so delightful,
Since we've no place to go,
Let it snow
Let it snow
Let it snow." (with gratitude to the composer Jule Style and lyricist Sammy Cahn)

Being a true Wisconsinite, this is one of my favorite winter songs. I also managed to convince daughter #2 that this is the best song in the world. She and I would sing it with great vigor and enthusiasm when she was little, sitting in front of the fire and watching the snow come down outside. I have successfully raised her as a winter-lover.

Therefore, when I opened the Fall 2008 Vogue Knitting's Mitten Issue, I fell head over heels in love with the "Let IT Snow" mittens. Perfect Christmas present, I thought. I finished only the "Snow" mitten for Christmas, however, and made the second in early January.
I used Paton's sock yarn so the palms would last forever. Maybe that threw off my gauge. The first mitten was wide enough for two hands. Realizing that I could not simply wash and shrink the mitten (cause I was using sock yarn) I had to rip out the first mitten and alter the pattern. I took four stitches out of each side of the pattern (16 stitches in total).

My color choice (blue and green) was determined by a hat I made for my daughter when she was in grade school and that she still loves. She refuses to let me knit her another hat. "I already have a hat, Mom!" How many 17 year old girls do you know who refuse new clothing??

Although I love the backs of the mittens with the pine trees and drifting snow flakes, I also heartily love the palms of the mittens.

As a special treat, I told my daughter that I would knit an angora lining into the mittens. She declined. Her hands are too sensitive, apparently, for even angora. She begged for polar fleece lining. Sigh, what is a knitting mother to do??

I went to JoAnn Fabric store to find some microfleece. Nada. So, I purchased the lightest weight non-pilling fleece that I could find--a remnant with seashells on it!! I figured that the incongruous fabric would be inside the mittens and no one would know that serious winter mittens are lined with a beach scene fabric!! I simply traced the mitten on the fleece, extending the thumb a bit, cut it out and seamed it up.
I slid the fleece mitten inside of the knit mitten,

and whip stitched the two together at the cuff. I made the fleece cuff a little narrower so that the mitten would hug the wrist to stay on.

My daughter loves the mittens and wears them when the weather is really cold. She has some cheap, lined acrylic mittens (given to her by a school friend for Christmas) that she wears for normally cold Wisconsin weather. (Here in Wisconsin we need a variety of mittens to get through winter. When the temperature is below 0 F and the wind is blowing, unlined mittens are useless!! For snowblowing and snow shoveling, I use insulated, deep cuffed leather gloves that look like something for Antarctica.

I've been wearing her mittens recently and I find that the fleece lining is very soft, nice and insulating and cozy. Not too bulky. Very fast to make. Much faster than angora knitting. I may be on to something.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Holes in the walls, in the knitting and in my head

Normally, at this time of year in Wisconsin, the ground is covered in snow and ice and we need to wear warm wool hats, mittens and scarves when we venture out of the house. Some of us also wear hats, mittens and scarves inside of our homes because our old windows leak dreadfully. Fortunately, earlier this week Great Mother Earth blessed us with a 50F day--the same day that the Window Men came to remove most of the windows in our house, leaving large gaping holes in our walls. Two capable, strong, polite and handsome young men arrived at 8:00 a.m. and proceeded to efficiently remove the 60 year old single pane windows that let in so much cold air that we needed to wear wool mittens to wash dishes! (Well, not really, but you get the idea.)
The day was so warm that I considered telling the young men to leave the holes in the walls for a few days--just so we could enjoy the unseasonable warmth. But, they had a job to do and they climbed right up on top of my sink and installed the new window!

The window installation is almost done. Just a few more trim strips and some finish work on the outside of the house and we will be cozy warm inside when the next blast of arctic air swoops down on us. No more holes.

The efficient creation of gaping holes in our walls followed by prompt installation of the windows is in sharp contrast to my progress on the Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl. Although I tried and tried to make sure that every stitch was perfect, sometimes the cobweb laceweight yarn conspired with some evil force to make a neatly twisted yarn over into a gaping hole.

Look above to the "southeast" of my knuckle. The line of nice, neat faggoting type yarn overs is broken by that large hole.
And in another spot the yarn over line is broken by a wayward sideways "ladder". I have no idea of what happened. Did I notice the mistake when doing that row and fall victime to the "blocking-will-take-care-of-that" syndrome? Or, did I miss the mistake altogether?

Now what do I do? These hole-y mistakes are tens of thousands of stitches away from where I am now. They sicken me. Can I fix the mistakes by the judicious use of after-the-fact darning? Or, do I pretend the mistakes aren't there?

I've been in the denial. Actually, I've been focusing on a rather inspired (even if I say so myself) decision to change the edging of the shawl. Sivia Harding, the designer, called for about 3-5 ridges of garter stitch along the 453 stitch long edge, followed by binding off!!! I couldn't do it. So, I searched and searched for an edge lace that would complement the stitch patterns in the shawl.

The patterns in the body of the shawl include roses inside of a trellis.
And pretty little flowers and leaves.

I took my stack of lace books to our Guild's weekend Knitting Retreat. Finally, I happened upon a pattern in "Victorian Lace Today." The shawl has the uninspired name of "Large Rectangle" on page 54. The knitted on edging is called "trellis border". OK, I thought that would be lovelier than three ridges of garter stitch.
Knitting on a border is quite simple, actually, in concept. You knit perpendicularly to the live edge stitches, knitting one stitch of the border with one of the live edge stitches in every other row. Easy, right? Well, I neglected to do the simple math ahead of time. If I had done so, I may have had second thoughts.

Six rows of garter stitch--to produce three ridges--over 453 or so stitches per row would have been 2,718 stitches, plus bind off of 453 stitches--meaning 3171 stitches until completion.

OK, my "simple" knitted border solution has approximately 25 stitches per row in an 18 row pattern repeat. This is a total of 450 stitches per pattern repeat. One "eats up" only 9 live shawl stitches per pattern repeat. So, 453 divided by 9 is about 50--pattern repeats that is. So, 50 times 450 is 22,500 stitches!!!! I must have holes in my head!!

My solution to avoid the constricting bind off of garter stitches has resulted in 19,329 extra stitches!!!

But, it's lovely, don't you think?? After two weeks of work, I have only 10 pattern repeats to go. Let's see, that's 4,500 stitches....
And then, I need to focus on fixing the yarn over hole issues and this dropped stitch.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Struggling towards monogamy

I have been trying, for about 20 years now, to establish a clear pattern of monogamy--in my knitting, that is. [Although sometimes my dear husband seems like he is trying to drive me away from monogamy--such as when he puts dirty dishes on the countertop above the empty dishwasher, and when he........But that's another story.]

Back to knitting monogamy. I'm afraid that I have a limited attention span for any particular project. I need different projects for different situations.

For example, I like to have an easy project that I can do in the dark of movie theaters, in the back pew at church, while at stop signs, etc. Typically this is a simple sock project.
Like his one. The fake cables on the side are two twisted stitches, side by side. The yarn is Trekking. This projects fits in a zip lock sandwich bag in my purse.

Then, I usually have a repair project or two. Such as duplicate stitching my mittens where they have worn out on the palms and inner thumbs, from driving I believe. Or such as this little breach of knitting know-how.
My dad is diabetic; his feet and lower legs swell during the day.I made him these socks, using the short row garter stitch heel as shown in the bottom. Lucy Neatby advocates using more than half of the total stitches for the heel. Usually her advice is excellent, but in this case it failed. The resulting sock had a heel big enough for an elephant with swollen feet. My dad's heels don't swell--his ankles, foot and calves swell. These socks bulged out over his shoes, creating other problems. He wore the socks as a dutiful father, but they were clearly uncomfortable. So I simply cut off the cuff, frogged the foot and heel and made my typical flap heel on half the stitches. The new (upper) sock fits perfectly. Now I need to do the same thing to the lower sock.

I also love to have a lace project in the works. To give me a little challenge. For when I have alone time to focus only on my knitting. My current challenge is Sivia Harding's Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl. Challenge is an understatement. This shawl brought me sobbing to my knees last week!!! But, I'm over that now.

You can't see in this photo, but I added a lifeline on row 151. (If you click to embiggen you can see the blue lifeline.) My bravado of knitting without a safety net failed me. No mistakes thus far, and I'm 2/3 of the way through the last pattern segment!!

Usually I have at least one present for someone on my needles. I long to knit cute little things for children, such as grandchildren. Alas, my dear husband and I do not have any grandkids, despite having children aged 42 and 32. The 17 year old has no business reproducing yet! So, we've "adopted" some surrogate grandkids: two little boys aged 6 and 4. The 6 year old started kindergarten this year, so in August I decided to make him a shawl collared cardigan for school. Well, Christmas knitting intervened and I never finished it.
Here are the back, two fronts and most of one sleeve. The project has languished because the ribbed pattern makes the pieces look as if they will never fit a real human. I'm hoping blocking will solve the problem. (don't we all!! ) The pattern is from Sirdar's Sweet Pea Knits. I've been hoping that this 6 year does not grow in girth this year!! I've added this project to my car knitting so that I can finish it for Valentine's day!

But, I would throw over all of these projects to concentrate solely and monogamously on this one:

It's for me. I thought I had lost it. I searched the house from top to bottom four times--in secret because if Dear Husband or Dear Daughters caught me searching for a lost project, I would be subject to long recriminating lectures about organization, too many projects at once, etc., etc., etc. Finally, when a pair of mittens fell to the closet floor I noticed this army green zipped bag from Knitting Camp. I opened it--my long lost love, waiting for me!!! A bag of discontinued Tiur. Two partially finished sleeves! A Dale of Norway yoke necked pullover for me. In my favorite color. In my favorite yarn. It is calling me. It has seduced me.

I am longing to commit myself exclusively to this seductive garment. The solid color body is worked in a knit and purl pattern stitch to hold my wandering attention until I get to the multi colored yoke.

However, the other projects are closer to being finished. They have entertained and occupied my knitting time and are close to fruition. Should I toss them aside for true love? How fickle am I?? Should I finish the socks for my dad, and the shawl for my mother and the cardigan for the little boy?? Or, should I selfishly focus only on myself and my heart's desire??

I am caught in a web of anguish of my own creation. If I were a monogamous knitter, I never would have started so many projects. I would have gone sensibly from one to the next, only after complete exploration of each relationship.

Ah well, now I need to clean the kitchen, mop the floor and put away folded wash. I'll think about the situation.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Do NOT follow my example

This post is a lesson to lace knitters. If you are dutiful, you will follow my recommendation and learn from my painful lesson. If you are like me, on.

I have been working on Sivia Harding's gorgeous Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl for months. Well, not consistently. I took it along for a two week car trip and quickly discovered that the slight rumbling of the car on the road made it impossible to do lace knitting with cobweb laceweight yarn. I'm using Cashwool color 988 ocean. Therefore, I waited to begin the shawl until I was on the steady unmoving sofa in my family room.

The pattern is challenging in that there are three or four designs in each row. One cannot simply memorize each row's pattern repeat and hum the mantra until the end of the row. One must slavishly follow the charts--at least I must.

So, after about 119 rows, progressing through various charts to Chart F, and repeating rows 24 to 39 of Chart "Center Panel" 6 times (are you with me??) I got to row 120.
It is "clear as day" on this fuzzy photo that after working rows 24 to 39 six times, one goes up to row 120 for the center panel. You can see that I use Post It notes to keep my place moving the note up each row, showing all previous rows. I guess you had to be there at the time because this was NOT clear to me. For some now inexplicable reason I returned to row 24 of the center panel and worked that along with rows 122 to 126 of the pattern. When thousands (!!) of stitches on my needle, I looked at the lovely photo of the shawl. I then realized that my Post-It note was hiding row 120 and I needed to rip back 6 times about 300 (or so) cobweb stitches that liked to enthusiastically fly off the needles when I wasn't looking.

"Oh, easy," you experienced knitters say, "Just rip back to your lifeline." I am an experienced knitter, but I tend to work without a safety net! No lifeline. Nada. Ningun. Rien. Rip, baby, rip!

Aha, I thought. I will just rip out the center panel stitches, put them on another needle and work back up. Theoretically, this sounded just fine. In practice....

After dropping back the stitches, here is what I had. Angel hair spaghetti strands, all wrapped around each other.

So, I tried to separate them.
Can you tell which is the bottom yarn?? Each time I thought I had the bottom-most yarn on one side of the center panel, it wasn't the bottom-most yarn on the other side.

I finally selected the order of the yarns, found new needles of the same size, and began to work my way back up.

After hours of ripping, sorting, taking time-outs to calm down, and drinking strong beverages, I worked back the rows. The inside of the panel was fine, but the side column of yarn overs was pure trash. Trash, trash, trash!! How did that happen?? I followed the chart exactly. Honest!
Do you think blocking would work it out? I almost convinced myself that it would, and I went to bed.
The next morning I ripped back again, used straight needles and worked back up.

Still trash on the sides.

Time to rip out six complete rows. Time for a retro-fit life line.
I threaded a needle with leftover sock yarn and tried to follow a straight line of stitches from one side of the shawl to the other.

This is harder, much harder, much, much harder, than one would think. Looks as if I had been drinking the Yarn Harlot's screech rather than some herbal tea.
As I worked my way along, dis-assembling the shawl stitch by stitch, I made another heart stopping discovery. I had actually pierced the shawl yarn in some places when making my lifeline. What are the odds?? The cashwool is about 1/4 the thickness of the sock yarn. I used a blunt needle. I cried.

When I had all seven or so rows ripped back I looked at the tangled web of yarn and cried some more. Then, I put down the camera and set to work untangling and rewinding the yarn.

I have now worked correctly to row 150. There are now 429 stitches on the needle. Surely, you say, you must have numerous life lines in the work!! Nope. Nada. Ningun. Rien. Non! I have continued to work foolishly without a safety net!! I'm following the chart in careful numerical order. I only have 25 more rows to go and then I do the applied border!! Lifelines take too much time............ I won't make another mistake that I can't fix!!!

Stay tuned.