Thursday, August 9, 2007

An Epiphany

Okay. So. On Saturday night I took a break from the Oakley Shawl and cast on the Alpine Shawl. The border is supposed to look like this.

On Sunday night I realized my lace did not look like the picture. I was also having trouble identifying which yarn over on the needle to knit or purl in places. This was most odd. I ripped back and cast on again. This time I noticed the yarn overs were twisted on the needle, but I’ve run into this before. If I knit/purl to the back loop the lace usually turns out fine.

On Monday the lace still did not look like the picture. I told myself blocking would fix the problem, so I finished the first pattern repeat. (I wish I’d taken a photo of that.)

On Tuesday morning I admitted that something really was wrong. My Alpine shawl did not match the picture, and blocking wasn’t going to fix it.

I’ve long had my suspicions that other knitters don’t have to knit/purl to the back loop of yarn overs unless the pattern specifically says to do so. It’s occurred to me in passing that perhaps I’ve been making yarn overs incorrectly. Victorian Lace Today has a well illustrated “Techniques” section, and sure enough I was incorrectly passing the yarn over the needle for yarn overs between knit stitches and under the needle for yarn overs between purl stitches. So far, as long as I knit/purl to the back loop of the yarn overs on the next row, this has worked just fine. HOWEVER, in her comments about the Alpine Shawl Jane Sowerby notes that the Alpine is “true knitted lace” because the wrong sides are patterned (not just purl or knit stitch). Apparently, knitting/purling to the back loop of incorrectly made yarn overs does not work on true knitted lace. Lesson learned – the hard way. Naturally.

On Tuesday night I ripped back and cast on again. Last night I finished the first pattern repeat. Now the lace border looks like this.

Not only did the lace turn out correctly, I find that making yarn overs correctly is a much smoother/faster motion than doing it incorrectly. Who knew? (Everyone but me, apparently.)

After the first pattern repeat was completed I added a lifeline. It has taken so long to get this far, and Sundara silk is really slippery. I didn’t want to risk losing my hard won progress. I don’t remember using a lifeline before, so I just guessed how to do it. Without giving it a whole lot of thought, I threaded the lifeline through the stitch markers as well as the live stitches. Wouldn’t you know, the next row of the chart required that the stitch markers be shifted over 1 stitch. Of course, I couldn’t move the stitch markers because the lifeline held them in place, so I had to drop them off the needle and add new ones.

(Sorry about the blurry pic, but you get the idea.)
The dropped stitch markers look goofy dangling there, but there they will stay until I add another lifeline and remove that one.
Another lesson learned the hard way. Sigh.

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