Monday, July 10, 2006

Am I missing the point?

OK, will someone please explain lace knitting to me. I have determined that I am pretty much a process knitter, but this is ridiculous. Way back in the mists of time (well, last February) I started a Daisy Meadow shawl. A "beginner" lace project. I'm a beginner, so, ok. After ripping and reknitting every single row at least twice, I made it this far before I had to walk away.

A few weeks later I decided to pick it up again and spent an entire day knitting, ripping and reknitting chart 4. At the end of the day I had made it this far.

Before I admitted defeat. I don't know what it is about chart 4 that is so bad, but I couldn't get past it for love nor money. So back into its ziploc it went and aged several more months before I could stand to look at it again.

The problem is that I love the idea of knitting lace. The designs and the yarns are unbelievably beautiful, and I dream of knitting a Tina shawl or a Forest Path stole. Really. I have the patterns and I pull them out and look fondly at them and look toward the day I'll know enough to cast them on.

At least I used to feel that way. Until yesterday.

So I decided I'd pick up the scarf after another multi month hiatus and give it a go. I knitted the roughly 900 stitches of chart 4 4 times before nearly breaking down into tears. Not girly tears, not tears of sorrow, failure or remorse, but those special tears of frustration that say I know deep down in my heart that there isn't enough weapons grade plutonium on this planet to make a bomb big enough for my personal needs right now and that is why I cry. Oh, people, what is this lace knitting about?

Last row chart 4 I am one stitch short. Always. I think I find an error. Always. I tink back to fix it being very careful not to foul up tinking the fiddly bits. I begin to reknit, find a dropped stitch. I think. It looks like a yarn over, but that's not possible, last row was all knit. This happens in different spots, I think, but it is always the same. Picking up the stitch will make the number of stitches come out right. I pick it up. I knit. The lace pattern is off. I am somehow still one stitch short. And I seem to have a short column of stitches now where I picked up the alleged dropped stitch. Always. I look close, see where the error obviously started. Shouldn't have picked up that thing I thought was a stitch. Go back and undo to before I "fixed" it, but it doesn't look the same. See the obvious error. Fix it. Lose another internal stitch in the column of stitches and at end of the row I am still a stitch short. Always happens just like this. If I continue, I will eventually end up with a really short and mangled section in the internal lace structure and will never recover the 1 stitch I am short. Rip back to lifeline. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So for many hours work yesterday, I was finally able to achieve this:

I don't get it.


Jessica said...

Two suggestions. Use a ton of stitch markers. I don't see any in your photo so I don't know if you're using them. Mark every repeat, mark the edging, mark everything. Second, if you're a stitch short it's usually just a missing yarn over. It's easy to remedy from a row above by making a M1 without twisting the stitch. Or have a more experienced lace knitter look it over for you and see if she can find the problem spot.
Good luck!

Natalie said...

I'm not familiar with that pattern, but maybe it's not you? Have you checked for pattern errata?

salt said...

Jessica's exactly right: stitch markers are what saves sanity in lace. I've had an experience with Kiri (yes, I know it's a simple pattern--that's how limited a knitter I am) that is much like yours has been--I'm surprised my yarn is holding up to all of the back and forth. It wasn't till I started using stitch markers on a ridiculously short interval that I really started catching any errors as soon as I made them. Somewhat surprisingly, once I started catching them that quickly, I also started making fewer of them: I think it finally helped me learn the rhythm of the pattern instead of having to read every stitch from the instructions.

Meg said...

I've had the same problems. In addition to the good suggestions already made, I might suggest you put in a new lifeline every row, every other row - there's no rule that you can only put in a life line at the end of a chart. If you find you have to keep ripping back row 4, then put a lifeline in at row 3 - it'll save you a few hassles with tinking.

jenifleur said...

I don't know the pattern but I've knit a lot of lace and I will say this: sometimes the knitter and the pattern just aren't a good match. And it seems to have nothing to do with the skill level of the knitter nor with the pattern difficulty. You either connect with a lace pattern or you don't. Or maybe it's just me. Try something else before you decide to chuck the lace altogether. Try Kiri or the Flower Basket Shawl, maybe. When you find the right combo, trust me you WILL get it! And you'll be smitten.

Chris said...

Try a different project? Look for errata for that pattern??