Monday, July 11, 2011


This winter, after two years of knitting, I met Ysolda Teague.  She is a certified cutie-pie Scottish pixie and prolific designer, who was just releasing her second small book of patterns in January.  I was in Long Beach for TNNA with the Knitmore Girls and filling in booth time with Abstract Fiber--a cheap, flimsy façade for entry to the fabulous National Needle Arts Association convention.
The night before the convention opened, the equally fabulous Unwind yarn store in Burbank, CA held their anniversary party, complete with the awesome Ravelry geniuses, roughly a hundred fantastic knitters and Ysolde.  She was sporting a gorgeous red lace-pattern cardigan with little blue and white vintage bakelite buttons.  Due to the fact we had set out just that morning at Bum-Crack-’O-Dawn and just arrived in SoCal, I was conversationally stupid.  As an aside, we had just arrived home, in the same circs, a week later, when we rolled up to A Verb For Keeping Warm’s Open House party for their new space and I saw her again and was again basically a drooling smunchkin.
For the record, Ysolda, I have been meaning to tell you for six months that your books are lovely, your designs range from pretty to achingly adorable.  I made the Icing Swirl hat twice and it was fun and easy, and as I have a mysteriously slippery head all  I had to do was a bit more to the decrease band in the back to keep the sucker on me ol’ scone.
HOWEVER.  I got soooo excited about the book that I took it back to Verb the next next week, full of exuberance, bouncing all over Adrienne for yarn to make my very first shawl, your Ishbel.  I wanted anything at all in the best colorway name EVAR--TRANSNATIONAL FURY!!!  It’s a red-coral-ly color on their Metamorphosis yarn--a Superwash Merino/Silk blend in Sport weight, and I LOVE it!  So I scrambled home, got my needles, swatched and started.  The promise of wispy beauty floated through my mind....


The pattern starts with stockinette and a bit of eyelet, easy-peasy.  Then comes The Charts.  I smacked straight into it and went stupid.  I’ve done charts--I have!!!  Socks, an actual chevron lace scarf from two-ply handspun as a sample for a shop, I’ve done this, but I fritzed.  So I complained and whined for months.  Like a brat.  Like a baby.  I gave up all my power to the stupid Charts. 
So for Tour de Fleece, I decided I was a Hand Cycler, and plowed straight through my Citron in Huckleberry Knits Silk & Silver down to the ruffle and beaded cast-off (to be enjoyed later--really, I’m relishing it, it’s my reward for the following); then jumped into the Ishbel, which I frogged, Ribbity-Ribbity, right back to the ball.  Zippity straight through the StSt, Zippity Doo Dah. 
Helloooooo Vine Chart A.  Okay, Read it through, employ New Secret Weapon:  Office Depot here in San Jose on Blossom Hill across from Oakridge Mall (in case you can’t find anywhere else, cuz this is AWESOME) has--drumroll---4X6 SuperSticky GRAPH PAPER STICKY NOTES.  Each line, including pattern repeat within each line, can be written out tidily then crossed off as I complete each section.  Voy-OLA!!  Okay, I’m actually getting through this, and I’m not saying a WORD--not a damn word --to anyone about this.  I get to 4 rows (WS purl row) out of 8, and all seems well, then count, and something’s wrong. I try every method I can think of to count, double count, start at the middle and compare stitches to the end, then start at the ends and move in and CANNOT FIND THE SCREW-UP!
Hours lost trying to fix, tinking back one row, seeming to get the correct count, everything seeming stable.....
I’ve been varying stages of near-total gray-hair-ness from age 22, and I swear this made me ginger then even grayer all over again in one afternoon.  I feel like I took every precaution, like I faced a fear with my patented 3-prong approach:  Read the books, Consult the experts, then Make Stuff Up.  I read the pattern and deconstructed it according to suggestions from more experienced knitters, then acquired tools and made up a system.  Attack!!  
This is, as the Knitmores say, When Knitting Attacked.  So, I have two questions:

1.  RE: My Citron shawl-- It ends with a stockinette ruffle, but a couple of people mentioned they used a garter stitch to keep it from curling.  Any opinions?

2.  Ishbel, My Great Pink Whale:  Should I keep going? Should I tink back to the stockinette and make another run at it? Maybe I was overly confident in taking a break for the night at that purl row 4 and jinxed it?  Or should I just take it apart, ball it up and harpoon it repeatedly?
“Call Me Ishbel...Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul... and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to Knitting as soon as I can.”--Moby Knit

I'm at a block and no hat will be safe.  Or shawl, come to think of it.  If knitting my own drives me to the verge of madness, why not just start stealing yours?  Help me now and keep me on the curb!

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1 comment:

  1. I had Ishfailure too ( --after binding off (but leaving the ends loose for easy frogging) I heard a Cogknitive podcast where Dr. Gemma says the repeats shift from the beginning of the row, which makes the wavering lines. It makes sense but I haven't gone back to try to fix mine.