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.


kate said...

Well first off, the shawl is lovely. Really beautiful!

I think I could live with the two yarn over issues. Blocking will help and if you put it away for a while and then pull it out, you may never find the place again.

The dropped stitch would make me cry.

And I never count stitches remaining. It's far too daunting! Although it does give you some bragging rights at the end, hey? :)

Jo at Celtic Memory Yarns said...


First, STOP thinking about the number of stitches you have to work to finish. That way madness lies. (Ask me how I know, hahahahahaaaahhhh!)

Second, forget those ladders and bigger-than-usual holes. They're part of the rich tapestry of your artwork. LEAVE. THEM. ALONE!

Third. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Or a Baileys. Or mix up a hot toddy. Drink it, whatever it is. Mix another if necessary.

Fourth. Now look at your shawl again (beautiful design by the way, and beautiful work). Doesn't it look a whole lot better?

There you are, you see?

Prunila said...

Ohhh Gail, it's fantastic, you are in Swapetines!!! how cool! love your blog adventures :)

maya said...

Wow, I wish I had the patience to do a project like this. I am a swapetina checking on all the blogs participating. Wouldn't mind getting anything done by you.

Lorette said...

I'd leave the yarn over issues alone. Nobody is going to notice, except you, and you aren't even going to notice once it's done and blocked.

And I'm with Jo on the whiskey. Just don't drink it before you finish those thousands of border stitches. Ask me how I know that.

maya said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. Regarding your question, I live in London, but I have not seen many ankle height socks in Spain(none of my sisters have any). Personally I would knit a normal hight lacy sock which is always beautiful,unless she does not like lace.I would make the sole stronger or more solid as she might use them as slippers. I hope this is of any help.