Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The shawl that almost whipped my butt

One of my goals for this month is to complete one of the three very large knitting projects that are currently outstanding.  The story of this shawl is so typical of me ... but I will share it anyway!

Picture from Ravelry
In March of 2013 I let my daughter loose inside a knitting pattern book.  She picked a shawl she liked called the Lace Leaf Shawl.  I jumped in as I usually do and said, "Sure I can make that for you."  That very day I went on line and bought the same yarn as the pattern used - a fingering weight yarn (very thin) in a lovely color called Sea Glass - a pale green but in some lights a green-blue - just like the ocean.

And, then ... I sat down and read through the pattern.

(I can hear the "oh nos, are you crazy, what were you thinking" thoughts!
Too late for cautions!  The damage was done fast and furious.)

Any knitter or crocheter will tell you I did this phase wrong, wrong wrong.  First you read, then you decide, then you order the yarn!  (see the difference?)  *sigh*

My version - border in progress - before blocking.

The downward slide goes likes this:

The discovery of what I had done to myself.
  • First off as I read I noticed this was an Advanced Level knitting pattern.  Hmmm ... I am skilled, and experienced but advanced??  No, not advanced. But not to panic.  Everyone does their first advanced pattern at some point.  Right. This could be my time.
  • The lace pattern was all in lace charts.  Cra-a-p!! I hate knitting charts.  But if I had to write the text version of the charts, I would ... Yes, it would be huge headache but I could work around it.
  • Holy Cow!  This pattern uses 0 sized knitting needles.  In knitting 0 means next to nothing width.  They are the thickness of toothpicks - and some toothpicks are thicker.  They must be joking.  No body does a full size shawl on 0 needles.  I don't even own 0 sized needles.  Off to the internet again to buy what I needed.  I also bought size 1 and 2 so if I could size up the pattern I would.    
I decided to add some crystal beads to the border and the points.
The camera doesn't catch the sparkle.

Further investigation
 or looking for a way to reduce my panic!
  • Out to Ravelry - a world wide knitting web site - I went to see who else had done this pattern.  When first I checked - NOBODY had done this pattern except the designer.  (No one in all the world.)  Yikes!  Several weeks later one other person posted her finished project!  One!!!  THANK GOD.  Someone else to discuss this with.
  • I sent her a email message.  She responded.  She describes herself as an advanced knitter, who is experienced and comfortable with knitting charts.  She had problems.  She made changes so that she could avoid ripping the yarn out and giving up.
  • "gulp"
Another shot of the pre-blocked work.

The Journey (without swear words)!

So by the time I got this less than encouraging news I had already cast on the project and was knitting away with gusto.  I had decided that I had evolved into an Advanced Knitter without realizing it.  I was feeling pretty full of myself!  Things went pretty smoothly for about  ... 5 or 6 rows maybe.  (For the non-knitter - 5 or 6 rows is barely discernible in a project done on 0 needles.  Then I found a mistake.  I tried to fix it.  Couldn't. I ripped it out.  I started again.  My Advanced Knitter Crown tilted on my head.

Slowly the shawl progressed with the same pattern of moves: find a mistake, failed the fix, ripped back, knitted forward.  Mistake, fail, rip, knit.  Mistake, fail, rip, knit.  (I think you've got it now.)

Any reasonable person would have stopped, and used the yarn for something else.  Not me.  I have never been accused of being reasonable!  Mistake, fail, rip, knit.  I did that so many times I must have made this shawl in total stitches knitted about 3 times.

The whole project was 3 steps forward, 2 steps back. Over and over and over again.

Finally, through shear determination and hard-headedness, I got down to the bottom of the body of the shawl.  Now to knit the border - a beautiful lacy border with ... wait for it ... THE MOST INCREDIBLY HARD LACE DIRECTIONS IN ALL THE WORLD.   

I paused!  

I paused for like 3 months.  

And I gave up, picked another edging to add to the edge of the shawl and moved on.  I guess there is a reasonable part of my personality after all.

Now the shawl border does have 500+ live stitches across the bottom, and they all have to be picked up one at a time by a row of the lace border - which means about 1000 rows are needed to complete the border - but no matter.  They are short rows and it is progressing.

And just for the record.  You can insert swear words any where in this section post you like.  In fact, you could insert swear words for every other word and it wouldn't be too many!!!

But I spared you that.

Lessons Learned!


I do this all the time. Jump in and discover the troublesome issues as I get into it.  I have been knitting since 1997 and it is just what I do (with lots of swearing of course.)

But when it is done, it should be just lovely.  And my daughter will look great in it.

And I will have won this battle with this pattern.  My butt is not whipped.

Blocking will pull out the lace pattern and show off the design better.

And when it is fully finished and blocked, I will have my daughter model it and pictures will be taken.

That should happen the beginning of March because I am going to finish this sucker THIS MONTH!!

Signing off,
Retired Knitter
Intermediate Level
No Advanced Knitter Crown in sight ... and proud of it!!


  1. What an accomplishment. It is lovely and yes you can see the crystals if you look hard. You definitely deserve the advanced knitter crown.

  2. Gorgeous now . . . and will be even more so to see it on your daughter in March. Like the Little Engine That Could . . . I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . . continuing on up the hill! Such determination you have . . . I will always remain more at the beginning stages . . . I did learn to cable though, yay me! But no size zero needles for these fingers!

  3. What an entertaining blog post. I feel your pain though. I would never knit with size 0 needles. Your daughter is a very lucky lady.

  4. Wow, this is going to be so beautiful! You should be proud that you stuck with it.

  5. It is beautiful. I don't think I would have your kind of stamina. I would have quit a long time ago. And thrown it away so it wouldn't be around the remind me what a failure I am. You go, girl!

  6. You've got more knitting grit than I do!

  7. That is beautiful. I could NEVER knit that. Hats off to you. You have one lucky daughter. : )

  8. The shawl is gorgeous. I feel your pain. I could have written this post. I do. The same exact thing...bite off more than I can chew. I've started a baby blanket....knit, mistake, rip, start over. I must have do e that at least 7 or eight times. I finally got it going. Long way to's on size 4’s. I attempted 0’s before. Did not go well. I admire your guts and your work is beautiful. I'd love to see the finished project. I saw a shawl recently and thought..oh my, i need to make this. Reading the gal's comments she stated she had to concentrate for three months of lace knitting. I rethought the whole idea! Good luck!

  9. It really is beautiful. I admire you for hanging in there with it.

  10. Gorgeous, just gorgeous! You have staying power but I already knew that!

  11. Hope to eventually see it modeled in person - looks stunning!


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