Schematic, shmematic

You knew it was going to happen:

I have such an addiction to these schematics. They are a great encouragement to me because with each one I note my progress. I also feel they are very helpful to my blog readers – much more telling than, “I’ve completed ten rows from chart A.”

Sadly, in noting my progress today, I was running out of pixels to indicate how much little I’ve knit – can you even see the little green stripe of progress?!? I’ve only finished 5 out of 249 rows… 5 very, very long rows, each one more than 500 stitches long! Important to keep that in mind ;).

And the counting is driving me insane! Right now it’s just a sea of stockinette and garter, no pattern repeats to keep me on track, to tell me if I’ve miscounted. So I count… I count in twenties, I count in forties, then I count in 48s, since that’s the size of the first pattern repeat. I try to position the markers in anticipation of the pattern, the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. But invariably, 500 plus stitches which at this point are all identical (and very thin, and reflect through the transparent cord of the circular needle) may or may not be making my eyes cross ;).

So yeah, the other thing is that this pattern is written entirely in Japanese. The only English words in the whole thing are “When the mountainash is in flower” and “Jean Sibelius,” which led me to believe that those were the title and designer of the shawl, respectively (as it ends up, that’s not the case). Since I can’t read Japanese and figure out the proper title of the pattern, I’ll still call the shawl Mountainash. It is the same book as used for the Crossed in Translation KAL.

Now, please, no gushing youcandoits, and no links to websites which explain Japanese patterns – I’ve cast on, so I obviously know about the links, and the youcandoits I can live without (unless you have intimate knowledge of the pattern and can assure me that it doesn’t have mistakes and unpleasant surprises, etc. – then feel free to tell me that I can do it 😉 ).

I’m hoping that Mountainash will provide a nice exercise for the hands and the brain, and not in the way Misty Morning did – rewriting a pattern is not a challenge I wish to undertake unless it’s compensated by a big, fat paycheck.

In preparation for what lies ahead, I’ve assembled an army of experts who are willing and able to help me – Terry, who has the book, some experience with Japanese patterns, and years of experience in knitting shawls, Siow Chin, who gave me the book, has experience with Japanese patterns, and understands the Chinese-derived characters, and Shiromaru, who is a Japanese knitter, and very generous to have offered me help (check out her Jaywalker-inspired gloves!).

I’m ready for battle – forge! 🙂

How thin is cobweb weight, someone asked? In the photo below, the cranberry yarn holding the stitches is standard sockweight yarn. That thin.

What type of provisional cast-on did I use? Looping provisional cast-on, p. 77 of Montse Stanley, my resource for nearly everything these days. This cast-on was a lifesaver – it went by much more quickly than a long-tail or knitted cast-on, and at the same time it was provisional, as necessitated by the pattern.

I’m pretty fixated on this project right now, which kind of sucks for my sockpal and her socks – I wonder if perhaps she’d object to one normal sock, and one which is missing everything below the heel? Hehe… Seriously, the plan is to finish those by Monday. For real. Then it’s going to be all shawl, all the time ;).


23 thoughts on “Schematic, shmematic

  1. Stephanie

    Personally, I think the green line of completed stitches is quite marvelous – and the idea of fewer stitches each row has to be a huge bonus. I have to tell ya, cobweb weight scare the bejeezes out of me, but it will be gorgeous when it’s done.

  2. Carrie

    That yarn looks so delicate, I can’t wait to see the completed thing. (No hurries, though – wouldn’t want you to lose your vision or anything.) I hope you can figure out what the actual name of the thing is – the Japanese have a way of making names of the most mundane things sound musical, so something as delicate as that should have something fabulous.

  3. Meredith

    You probably already found this, but Jean Sibelius is a composer and the name of the pattern is one of his piano works. Not a bad title for a shawl too, though.

  4. Beth S.

    I love when other people take on these crazy-ass, uber-complicated, polylingual patterns. This is going to be riveting to watch. 😉

  5. Agnes

    Hahaha … it feels exactly like if I am trying to knit something from the Russian magazine! I am sure there is a special keyboard input method for Russian as well as Japanese … only if I knew how to do that … then it would be so much easier using the online translator! But you have a strong army of help there … the most important is someone else who knows has the same book. Besides, a lot of people succeeded in knitting from Japanese pattern book without knowing any Japanese, so you should be fine, I think.

    BTW, love the pink!

  6. Katherine

    I am NO HELP AT ALL. Can’t read Japanese, haven’t done the pattern, etc. However, I will offer encouragement in that you start with over 500 stitches and get smaller and smaller all the time. That’s my kind of shawl knitting! If I were religious, I would pray for you not to have to do any re-writing. However, since I’m not, I’ll just hope it 🙂

  7. Theresa

    I love your schematics – the knitters’ version of marking things off on a to-do list, perhaps? In fact, that was probably my favorite part of the Crossed in Translation sweater – the way the Japanese pattern was written in intuitive schematics. Would that you could so easily glance at most English-language patterns and tell what was going on!

  8. domesticat

    i have that heirloom knitting book. i love their detailed charts but it is SO detailed that it makes me cry. in fear. i’ve been wanting to try the other shawl Mondnacht (why didn’t that one get a pretty name)

  9. lummy

    The author of this book is Mr.Toshiyuki Shimada, who is japanese. All patterns in this book are designed by him.

    He names his patterns after famous piano pieces, because he is a knit designer and a pianist as well.

  10. LaurieM

    Why do you take on a challenge like this? I can think of a few reasons. Let’s see:

    It’s an intellectual puzzle.

    It’s learning something new.

    It’s proof one is a superior knitter.

    It’s the only way to get a drop dead gorgeous shawl that only a handful of other people might ever own.

    It’s a way to beat oneself up.

    It’s about being in control. You create a crisis (a knitting one) and then master it.

  11. Lotta

    Schematics are very cool. I’ve been wanting to start counting my progress in the amount of stiches (2500 stiches into it), as well as figure out the total stiches in a project. I think it should help with figuring out how much yarn you’re going to need yet to finish the project, too. One day when I publish some of my own patterns, they will include total stich count. 😉

    For the different language key boards that AGNES was wondering about, go to Start, control panel, regional and language options, languages, details and add, and you can add the languages you want to use. Go to preferences, language bar and choose the option to show the bar on the desk top. Then you’ll have a little language bar in the bottom right hand corner of your screen where you can choose the language your keyboard is using. The next issue will be figuring out which keys respond to which characters. I’ve got the Finnish one memorized, but don’t know much about Russian, even less about Japanese… ????????????? it works! 🙂

  12. miss ewe

    Hey there, Yarn Sniffer…

    Shawl sounds awesome, and you are braver than I. Did you see the harlot’s post today, and that aromatherapy yarn? I immediately thought of you…

    Good luck with the japanese.

  13. Fern

    I learnt knitting thru the clear illustrations at the back pages of Japanese pattern books and it works!

    I can’t read Chinese nor Japanese, however the charts and those perplexing 2-3-1 numbers which means decrease 3 sts 1 time every 2 rows makes sense… he he

    Also, I would like to add that Japanese charts/patterns hardly has any mistakes – so you can be rest assured it won’t end up like the grandma shawl experience.

    Happy Easter! {I’m not Christian either…}

  14. Mary

    This will be a fun project to follow. Since we won’t see much of this lovely pattern until it is blocked, can you put little arrows on the photos from time to time to show us where you are?

  15. Kate

    And I say this with love, you may be at this point clinically insane. Good luck lunatic. We all enjoy watching you achieve what we would never even try.

  16. Kristen

    Terry showed me the book and I fell in love with that shawl – but it’s nowhere near my list of things to knit in the future. (though it is on the “maybe someday far far in the future” list)

    As someone who has not yet delved into the rabbit hole of lace knitting, I just wanted to let you know that I’m strapped in and ready to enjoy the ride.

    (or I’ve sat back and am ready to enjoy the show – whichever is more of a compliment?)

  17. Liz (the crazed weasel)

    Oh, dear god, that yarn is like pink fishing line. Be brave, young grump, be brave. All will come right in the end. I agree that the 500 stitch rows and the massive huge pattern repeats are a bit daunting, mais oui? But so much more satisfying when you conquer them. And you will, you will.

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