The lace saga continues.


The lace shawl continues s-l-o-w-l-y. Back around row 45 I figured out how to read my knitting and felt very proud. I continued with great confidence – and care – but around row 55 or 60 I found that I had screwed up something royally. Perhaps I could have fixed it, perhaps not. I did not even try, just threw up my hands and frogged back to the lifeline.

Imagine my horror a few rows later when I discovered that my mistakes had begun BEFORE the lifeline. That column of stitches that is the stem of the openwork leaf? It should continue and become the stem in the next leaf above it. That was not happening in part of the shawl.

I put down the knitting and walked away. Over the next few weeks I would pick it up, look at it, try to figure it out, and put it down again.

Eventually I put in about a gazillion markers, counted the stitches, put in some more markers, figured out where the yarnovers and k2tog/ssks should be, recounted the stitches, wrapped waste yarn around certain stitches, and after much concentration located the errors in the row on the needle. The pattern is such that each half of the shawl is exactly like the other; I have made almost no mistakes in the right-hand half and multiple mistakes in the left-hand half. The mistakes were not apparent when looking at the lace unless the viewer knew exactly how the motifs were supposed to line up above each other; then one could see that I was one column of stitches off in a couple places on the left side.

With great care I knit the next row, making whatever adjustments were necessary to get the knitting right again. A few rows later I caught a new error and adjusted for it. One too many stitches between the markers? Do an extra K2tog. Forgot a yarnover in the previous row? Pick up the strand between the stitches and create the yarnover while purling back. None of these are news to anyone who has ever knit lace, but I was pleased to have come far enough that I could *fix* my errors.

I am nearly back up to row 60 and feeling a tiny bit cocky. That is a sure sign that I should be extra careful.

Here are the things that have helped immensely in this lace saga.

Stitch markers. A commenter recommended putting markers between the repeats. Hallelujah! What a great idea! I had not actually realized before that this was a 10-stitch repeat (duh). Now I would know immediately whether I had the correct number of stitches.*

Stitch markers 

Anal soul that I am, I used different colors for each half and other colors to mark off the center stitch.

Stitch markers center 

Lifeline. No explanation needed. (Color is way off in this photo. Auto-correct scores again… not.)


Row counter. I have no explanation as to why it took me so friggin’ long to begin using a row counter.

Row counter 

Before I started using the row counter, every time I picked up the knitting it took me many anxious minutes to determine which row I was on. During the long pauses in the shawl knitting I started a couple scarves for the Red Scarf Project: Fast Forward and a modified version of Palindrome. Fast Forward has a 68-row chart for the pattern at each end, and I threw a row counter onto my needle as soon as I got to the chart. I knew from knitting Palindrome several years ago that I needed a row counter to cable at the right row. When I finally went back to the lace shawl I immediately awoke to the need for a row counter. Lesson learned.

Highlighter tape. Best $2.89 I ever spent.

Highligher tape 

I started out using 3×5 Post-Its but they lost their stickiness pretty quickly, plus I had to use at least 3 to mark the entire chart row. The highlighter tape works soooo much better, plus it allows me to see the row below.

Chart w tape 
The areas highlighted in pink and yellow were that way on the original pattern;
I printed this on a b&w printer so had to improvise.

There are a few bummers, however.

This pattern is long. Here is where I am.

Page 8 of 15 

…and here is how much yarn I have used. See the big hole in the center where I have been pulling out the yarn?

Yarn cake 

I didn’t think so. (To be fair, that was a 600-yard skein and the shawl will require 480 yards, so I won't use all of it. But still…)

I may need to rethink my goal of finishing this while on vacation. We have 11 10 days left.

* Using stitch markers also created a lot of angst… until I realized that the 10-stitch repeat moves one stitch to the right every right-side row, which necessitates moving each stitch marker one stitch to the right as well. Is this characteristic common to triangular shawls that increase 1 stitch at each edge? I sure wish the pattern writer had mentioned it. Would have spared me any number of gray hairs.

This entry was posted in Haruni, knitting, Lace, Shawls. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to The lace saga continues.

  1. Linda says:

    Oh geezz, kat. I haven’t even started a shawl yet; got lots of patterns though. Your persistence is inspiring! Sometimes a project like this is one of those “whenever”. It gets finished “whenever”! It’ll be beautiful when it’s done. Onward and upward!

  2. Kym says:

    Your lace knitting experience sounds just like mine! What I’ve learned about myself . . . is that my mind wanders EVERYwhere when I knit. I just can’t seem to stay focused on the skills required of lace knitting — counting, for example. Yet, still, the lace calls me. Your shawl will be gorgeous — and totally worth the struggle — once you finish and block it out. (I might also suggest the magnet board from Knit Picks. You can track just one row at a time with movable magnet “bars”. It is a lifesaver.)

  3. soxanne says:

    Oh dear. I hope those tools of the trade help you get through the shawl because it will be lovely when you finish…
    My problem is miscalculating yarn quantities. I have now run out of yarn before finishing a project for the second time this year – I’ll have to rip it back and make it smaller as there is no way I’ll find more of this particular yarn.
    But we do love knitting, don’t we?

  4. Cookie says:

    I’m so proud of you!
    Have you ever thought of using a lifeline every ten or so rows? It’s a huge pain in the butt but it might give you a level of comfort to the project. Just a thought.

  5. Orli says:

    I’m knitting the same shawl! And I seem to have a similar issue, in that I’ll forget a yo on the right side of a decrease but not on the left side…
    It does get easier. 🙂 Although somehow, despite counting the 12 stems that were supposed to be there before starting chart B SEVERAL TIMES, I ended up with 13 on each side and had to create a strange disappearing leaf in the middle of my shawl because ripping back would have broken my brain.

  6. Sheepish Annie says:

    I was all sad about the shawl and feeling overwhelmed by it…and then I saw the highlighter tape! Must. Have. MUST!!!!

  7. Carrie#K says:

    Highlighter tape!! I must have that TONIGHT. NAO. Formerly I would use two color highlighter pens.
    I’ve always used stitchmarkers between every repeat – on Mary Tudor it was remarkable how quickly I could lose track of 14 lousy stitches.
    Ten days? You are going to spend some time gazing at the scenery, aren’t you?

  8. Sara says:

    K: How many swears have you said? I find there are exponentially more when I do lace. I may have thrown my first lace project across the living room on when I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong. I had the same “duuuuuuh” moment when I realized there were 14 stitches in my repeating pattern. I was looking for Ravelry (agree) buttons while reading your whole post!
    Meanwhile, I find if I put the stitch marker in at the beginning of repeating stitches, knit the repeat stitches, count them to make sure they’re there, then move just the marker to the end of the stitches and repeat. I don’t have to fight stitch markers as much this way. I do mark the every row yo/increase spots to remind myself to do them… but sometimes I forget. I’m going to brave Rock Island by Jared Flood for my wedding shawl. I have a feeling there will be a lot of swearing!

  9. Erika says:


  10. Helen says:

    Markers rule. And different colours of things. And much as I’m loving garter stitch just now, it doesn’t keep me up late in that heady way that lace does. Bravo.

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