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.


debolsillo said...

Oh Gail! I'm so sorry.


sherriknits said...

oh my gosh! I have seen that same kind of mess in my own knitting, every bit of it...and felt what you must have felt as i read it! i hope it helps to know that you have sympathetic readers!

kate said...

Oh thank goodness, someone else who works lace without lifelines!! You make me feel better.

And you must be stronger than I. I would have balled it up and thrown it into the corner of my craft closet.

Prunila said...

I think this post is terrible, to read it I got ... very nervous... happily you did not frog it all!!! uffff! happy new year Gail! :)

Prunila said...

Dear Gail,
Why it's always so nice to receive news from you?
Thank you for your comment about my small mittens super-easy-project LOL. About shawls Grumperina has a fast recipe in her last post, I hope it helps to see that another knitter is also in a "complicate project", lets call it like that. I send you lots of greetings from Girona!!! I hope to meet you there one next time :)

Prunila said...

Ummm.... I forgot to say that the way you explain it, like a tutorial is very good for me.

HPNY Knits said...

lace baffles me, and I struggle with some UFO from 2007.
you are brave to have a second go at it. good luck!

Lorette said...

You are a better woman than I am, Gunga Din. I'd have burned that whole mess in the backyard. :-)