First, note the time of posting – well past midnight on a weekday, and you know I’ve got to be at work bright and early tomorrow morning to take my reactions out of the heating block. Like, gotta be there at 8 a.m.

Reason: grandma’s shawl.

It started out innocently enough – I got home a little after 7 p.m., dialed my best friend, and picked up grandma’s shawl. We chatted and I merrily knit along, completing a few rows since the last time I posted.

Somewhere around 8 p.m. we finished our conversation. I turned on the TV (Everybody Loves Raymond on TBS), and just like that, I noticed something funny about the pattern.

I will try my best to explain to you what I mean by “something funny about the pattern”. It’s important to note because this is the stuff that causes the HUGE mistakes, ones which span multiple rows, ones which I’ve already encountered twice before.

The main triangle of the shawl is composed of a modified Ogee Lace Pattern from Barbara Walker Numero Uno. In this pattern there are delicate leaves surrounded and separated by a zigzag ladder of sorts. In order for the zigzag to be continuous and look correct, the sets of yarnovers and decreases which form it must be right above one another.

This is a triangular shawl, so the width of the overall fabric constantly increases. As it does so, new leaves must be slowly incorporated into each edge, and with new leaves, come new zigzag ladders.

That’s the “something funny about the pattern.” When new ladders are introduced and all of a sudden the sets of increases/decreases do not line up right on top of each other, I know there’s trouble. The stitch number may be correct, and the chart may look right to the naked eye, but it doesn’t knit up to give the right thing!

Of course having the chart appear correct at a first glance, and having the stitch number work out does not help to identify and fix the problem! In fact, it’s quite counter-productive!

The two times I’ve already encountered this issue, I was able to find the solution by carefully swatching and shuffling around the location of various increases and decreases to ensure that the ladder stitches lined up.

But today was different.

I tried the usual fixes, but they were not working out.

Aha! I noticed that in those same rows there were also problems with the double decreases, another consistent issue with this pattern. So now I had to figure out both the double decrease problem and the ladder problem for the same rows!!!

By the time Project Runway came on at 10 p.m. I thought I had found the solution.

Yet I was a stitch short.

That’s when I cracked.

It happens with projects like this (AV and the Q come to mind).

In utter frustration, I banged my little fists against the clipboard holding my ridiculously marked-up pattern, and pouted. And cried (just a little) – frustration and anger, not sadness.

Damn. This is possibly more frustrating than AV + Q!!!

By the time Project Runway ended, however (I was happy to see that they released Diana – I think she wasn’t cut out for that level of competition), I had at least identified the problem – ladders, double decreases, and somewhere, two missing yarnovers. All within 6 rows, or 3 right-side rows. What a mess.

I started to tink back… maybe about 6 rows or so. I was grumpy and frustrated and tired and clumsy, and let’s just say that it took me about 10 rows to finally tink back one without dropping stitches or making weird knots or anything. Conan was over, and I had negated all of the evening’s progress.


Soon I will see if I can fix HUGE #3. But now, I have to go to sleep.

51 thoughts on “Crack

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  1. twig

    Holy moly. This is turning into the shawl from hell! I’d be so screwed because I can’t figure out those things — nor do I have the patience to do so. But I *do* have a fireplace for a burnt sacrifice (of the pattern).

  2. Melissa

    Yes, I agree with the other, put that shawl in time-out until it can behave properly. And I’m shocked at the number of errors you’re finding in the pattern. Could you be the first person to ever knit this? Or did no one else notice the errors???

  3. jody

    Ugh that’s frustrating! I’m disappointed in how many mistakes you’re finding. I didn’t think this was such a new pattern. I wonder if people have just fixed it in silence, or (more likely?) thought it was their knitting and gave up. I know pattern writing is tough, but I would think ONE sample knitted by someone else as a way of proofing the pattern would have uncovered these problems.

    It’s disappointing when it’s in such a big and time-consuming project (and one that’s generally more difficult to frog) to see these mistakes in the printed and “proofed” version of a pattern that’s for sale.

    Good for you though for sticking with it and plowing through. I’m sure it’s such a pain but in the end grandma will love all the work you put into it (even if she doesn’t know the gory details).

  4. Lisa

    I hate, hate, hate, when there are so many mistakes in a pattern. What is wrong with these designers who do not properly proofread and test their final product? You are a devoted granddaugher to have come this far, I’m quite sure I would thrown up my hands in frustration and started another pair of socks if I were you. Good luck.

  5. Mintyfresh

    Sucks about the pattern. Hope you get it satisfactorily fixed. And ARGH! For the lack of Project Runway Spoiler warning, since I haven’t seen the ep yet!

  6. yahaira

    Trying to send you good knitting vibes over here. Don’t work on the shawl today when you get home, work on some socks or something else. You need a break from it.

  7. Erin

    You have the patience of a saint — at this point, YOU’ve become the de facto pattern editor! I won’t suggest you give up, but why throw good knitting time after bad? The Grumpicue is proof that you can take a flawed pattern and make it much, much better. To heck with bad patterns…especially bad lace patterns! Whatever you decide, the readers are rooting for you.

  8. Beth

    There are other great patterns, ones that have no mistakes in the charts and are a pleasure to knit. To me, one of the beauties of knitting lace is the rythmic logic of the charts. I’d dump that pattern asap.

  9. Kate

    Sorry Kathy! Hope you fell asleep the instant your head hit the pillow. Take it easy at work today if you can (I know, not an easy thing to say to a grad student!) :).

  10. Judy

    AGH! and GAH!! Sorry to hear about all the errors…I am thinking the same as an earlier poster. Why hasn’t anyone else noticed all these pattern errors? Probably everyone else (without your remakable persistence) just thought they couldn’t knit it and threw it in the back of the closet. Good luck figuring out fix #3!!

  11. Ruth

    Agreed that you need to run a lifeline (I use dental floss for shawls) … it will save much frustration (if not heartache … no way to avoid heartache when undoing an entire evening’s work).

    Also agreed that it was time for Diana to go. What about Santino, though? Isn’t he the biggest horse’s patootie you’ve ever seen?

  12. trek

    I once pulled back a lacy poncho one stitch at a time for 5 rounds – about 2/3 of the way through the poncho. This was way before I learned about life lines and it HAD to come out because I had gone on auto-pilot and somehow inserted one segment of garter stitch right in the second and third quarters….

    Time out that bad girl.

  13. Carole

    I hate it when the knitting gets frustrating. I hope when you work on it today, with less bleary eyes, that it all works out right.

  14. Leah

    I’m sorry this shawl is being so sucky!! I know the feeling when you are so frustrated that it compels you to go on!

    I think you should see how you feel after work & possibly give it a rest for the day. Maybe that will re-invigorate you to work on it tomorrow!

    Oh & I couldn’t agree more about Diana & Marla!! It’s amazing that they skated by for so long!

  15. Michelle

    If anyone can fix this pattern, you can!

    And I have to say I’ll miss Diana on Project Runway. I agree with you that she may have been in over her head, but I don’t think she was given enough credit for some of her designs on the show.

    Hope things look clearer with the shawl after you’ve had some sleep!

  16. KarenK

    Sending you commiseration and sympathy and cuss words too, just in case you run out. Anyone who buys that pattern should ask for their money back. Those many errors are inexcusable.

  17. Colleen

    Ummm, you’re doing this for fun :-)?

    Seriously, though, the shawl is going to be a hard-won-knitting victory when you finish it. I’m not sure how this pattern got published, if it’s so error riddled.

  18. Dene

    Send the shawl to the time-out corner and tell it that you won’t let it come out until 1) it decides to cooperate and 2) you have had sleep.

    It is lovely anyway and I’m sure it will cooperate once it feels neglected.

  19. elizabeth

    Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger? You’re gonna be one tough broad after this!

    I was happy to see Diana go, but I was more happy to see Marla be kicked off. She was never entertaining, and her designs were terrible…but I must admit that I was secretly hoping Santino went–just to see the look on his face.

  20. Jennifer

    I hope you get some sleep. Attack the problem with a fresh eye tomorrow.

    Whoops, I haven’t seen the latest Project Runway (burned it on disc last night). I’m going to pretend I didn’t read who got busted.

  21. Carolyn

    SERIOUSLY. Seriously. Look, wouldn’t it just be easier to make up your own shawl pattern than follow this very sad attempt at a pattern that some designer threw together hoping that no one was really going to knit it? Seriously.

  22. Cindy

    How frustrating! I thought I had a lot of patience, but not as much as you.

    Would it be easier to quit following the pattern and go back to the rows you have corrected, following the increase from the start of each repeat? Wouldn’t it be the same, with just an additional motif each repeat? That seems a lot easier and less frustrating to me. Good luck. Hope you got enough sleep to make it through the day!

  23. Martha

    To me, the thing that sucks about knitting lace is that you (or at least I) can’t do anything else at the same time. I look upon my knitting as something to keep my hands busy while I talk on the phone, or read, or watch TV, but some lace knitting demands TOTAL CONCENTRATION or many mistakes will be made. I once made the mistake of taking my bird’s eye wedding shawl to Stitch and Bitch–you’d think I could talk and knit at the same time, after all–and after I had to rip up all the evening’s “progress” later I never made that mistake again.

  24. marie in florida

    i’m sorry that happened; it’s happened to me too and everyone and yet i know that does not help.

    keep at it, you KNOW you can do this. besides that’s one cutie of a Grandma.

    by the way, my CandleFlame shawl is moving along. it’s really similar to what you are working on but without the lace work. very relaxing. i have lace on the needles in other works though.

    and almost one complete jaywalker, long story there.

    marie in florida

  25. Kenny

    You are so technical in your knitting. I love it. That is amazing how you can decipher what goes where in knitting. I bow down to you.

  26. Angela

    I’m glad you got some of the problems worked out. I can’t do lace over the phone. It just messes me up especially if I have a little counting rhyme going on in my head. I know you can get problem #3 worked out. You go! And yay! I’m glad I found another Project Runway fan!

  27. Lelah

    Do you think the designer shrugged off the edge as a “design feature”? I always find it interesting what people will find acceptable, and what others find as mistakes. As a linguist, you should recognize the similarities of written knitting patterns and written communication—are you a prescriptivist knitter? :P

    (My BA is in Ling- I always daydreamed in semantics class that the l.f. we were constructing was a beautiful lace pattern…)

  28. Angela

    Gosh, I feel for you. How frustrating. And I agree about Diana–my TS (teenaged stepdaughter) and I agreed last night before the show that she had to go sooner or later (hopefully sooner):).

  29. Lorri

    I feel for you. At one point in my Peacock Feathers Shawl I had to frog about 4000 stitches after a tinking incident gone bad. I would recomment lots of chocolate.

  30. nona

    Bummer! I hope your fix works. My friend once go so fed up with a project that she found herself at midnight, jumping on her bed in her nightgown, ripping out her project gleefully. She described the experience as “totally liberating”, her husband as “totally crazy”.

  31. Purly Whites

    DUDE! How does she get away with selling this pattern? How did she knit the one in the photo? Was it all a lie created by photoshop? I’m so terribly sorry for you. I’ve been at that frustrated teary place with knitting, and it sucks ass. You have all my sympathy.

    (and also, maybe in the future, if you post who got booted from Project Runway, you could let one know a bit ahead of time so one can skip down and not read that part as one has it on tivo and not watched last nights episode? one thanks you in adavance)

  32. Alice


    I second Chris’ request regarding PR spoilers.

    Hang in there with it, sounds like you are winning.

  33. Jennifer

    Wow — that is one evil pattern. I commiserate with your late night. Being the type of person that I am, when I was a student I never stayed up all night to finish a paper because I always finished those well before the deadlines. It always was craft projects, books, and web design that kept me up until the wee hours.

  34. Irie

    Augh! That sounds really frustrating. If you are going to PAY for a pattern then it should at least be usable!

    The shawl will be gorgeous when you’re done, nice color and lace motif, and of course your creativity adds a lot to every knit you make! :)

  35. Emily

    Now that you understand the lace pattern, it might just be easier for you to make up the rest of the inside part yourself instead of following the pattern (which hasn’t been much of a pattern so far). It might take a little bit of time in front of graph paper, but at least you won’t be ripping out constantly.

  36. Monica

    Oy! Yes, sounds like you need a break from the shawl! By the time you’re done with it you’ll be making shawls in your dreams. While watching TV. :)

  37. Jenn

    Not that I’m trying to prolong the work here so I can win, but seriously, put that thing down for a few days and work on something easy and fun. You’re going to put an eye out if you keep up at this rate.

    And what the heck is with people putting out such poorly written patterns?? Of course, I would have knit right along and not noticed anything and just let it go.

    Hang in there. It’s going to be fabulous when it’s done!!!

  38. Kathy in San Jose

    And it’s especially frustrating when you see the error and think that maybe it won’t make any difference, it can be fudged, so you keep going. 5 loooong rows later, you finally come to your senses… naaah, that never happened to me… yeah right! Or alternately, you don’t realize that there’s a mistake and that you’re making the same mistake on each pattern repeat for several repeats – done that one too. That blanket is in time-out and has been for years!

  39. Emy

    It’s amazing how such intricate patterns do not get pattern tested. Simple ones, I can understand since many can fudge or decipher easily but lace with shaping?!

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