If exasperation had a face, it would look like me.

Way back in September of 2010, I wrote about a shawl that I was knitting. At that point, I was about 40% done with the pattern - having taken the summer off from it - and speculated that I would complete the project by the end of October. naive I can be at times.

The Garden Party Shawl, by Two Old Bags, is a relatively simple pattern with lovely eyelet rows and piquot edge detailing. (Don't judge it by the photo on the pattern, which shows the less desirable ruffle edge - entirely too girly for me.) I had never knit something this large but the pattern was so easy, I couldn't imagine having any problems at all.

I saw the pattern knit up at the 2010 Madison Knitter's Guild Knit-In. The sample, completed project was done with Irish wool which has such a stiff hand that the end-result was really crisp and beautiful. However, Irish wool is entirely too scratchy for me so I chose a sturdy but soft 100% wool from Galway, in a completely inoffensive mushroom color (of course.)

So, in September, when I blogged about this project, I was cranking away on the pattern and making great progress. It started getting tedious because the thing just grows and grows with each row so, by the time you're at the first bound-off edge, you've got about 350 stitches on the needles. My dogs loved it. They would sit on my lap and I'd cover them up with the work-in-progress. It was very warm and cuddly under there.

I quickly got to the first bind off, at which point you do a piquot edge and then pick up the stitches behind it and resume knitting the pattern for another 20 rows. In that second tier, the pattern calls for one more horizontal eyelet row in the middle of the tier. Yeah... Therein lies my problem.

Perfect little eyelet rows
For god-knows how many rows - about a bajillion, I think - my pattern was perfect. There was a lovely, straight, double-eyelet row down the center with horizontal eyelet rows coming in to meet the center row. All the little holes lined up exactly the way they were supposed to. I was a thing of beauty.

And then there was the second tier.

Things seemed normal. There was no reason to think that anything was amiss. And yet, for some unknown reason, the horizontal eyelet row would NOT meet the center row correctly and, as soon as I moved to the next row, everything would be off by one - the center eyelet row would be shifted over, as if it had been hit by a car or something and couldn't line up with the rest of its brothers. Rip, rip, rip.

I tore the stitches back and re-knit this section four times. And, let me tell you, when you've got 400 stitches on your needles, it causes much gnashing of teeth and wringing of hands. Finally, in frustration, I gave the work to my dear blogmate, Cassandra the Patient (and Lovely.) She tore it back for me one more time and, at that point, we decided that it simply wasn't worth the headache to try to force that uncooperative horizontal eyelet row into the second tier.
Second tier, sans eyelet row

 The Shawl Of Doom was finally completed on Sunday - and there was much rejoicing. Being able to wear and enjoy it now ALMOST negates the frustration that I felt while trying to finish it.

At the end of the day, the lesson is this - never, ever stick to a pattern that's fighting with you. Modify it, redesign it, make it your own but don't let the pattern beat you down to the point of wanting to chuck out months of work.

Not blocked yet, but it's pretty nice, huh?
 Now that I've beaten the shawl into submission, I'm going to tackle the Baby Blanket of Evil that I started years ago for my niece - when she was in utero. She's six or seven now. And her brother is four. I've got no idea who'll get this when it's done... but it's going to be done - mark my words.

- Alex the Willful

1 comment:

  1. Believe me - I know what you mean about those patterns of doom!!!

    But I always like to have a baby afghan in progress, just because they often turn out to be handy gifts - sometimes, it turns out that I'm just finishing one just as I need one for a present. Might not be the baby it was started for, but that's ok!