Marriage counseling


So I finished the next Mountainash pattern repeat (highlighted in green).

Big whoop de do. As Wendy would say, “do not alert the media.”

While I’m excited to show you some progress, any progress, I must admit that Mountainash and I are no longer in love.

Part of the problem is pure bitterness. You see, I knit the green section in question twice. After completing it for the first time, I noticed a small mistake about 16 rows down.

This mistake… let me put it to you this way – you wouldn’t notice it unless I pointed it out with arrows and circles and a variety of other highlighting mechanisms. I wouldn’t have noticed it, I think, if I didn’t have a coffee (well, my version of “coffee” – iced decaf latte) that particular Saturday afternoon.

But I saw it, and what is fixable must be fixed. I dropped the yarn 16 rows, and actually picked it up rather successfully. But something was still not quite right. I dropped it again, started picking it up, and at that point it became clear to me that it would be quicker to just reknit the damned thing. So I frogged 16 rows and started over.

What is fixable must be fixed.
Level of bitterness is directly proportional to amount of stupid fixing that must be done.

Another part of falling out of love is that the challenge, the excitement, the thrill are now all gone.

I figured out the Japanese characters (more or less), with some help I figured out the instructions, and I have a pretty good idea now about how the whole thing is constructed. It is no longer this mysterious, exotic pattern, filled with conundrums that keep me up all night.

To add insult to injury, the remaining knitting repeats are very simple – the only thrill is doing a double decrease on stitches which have been previously simply knit. [insert sarcastic voice] Oooooh! [end voice] Come on! Throw a googly moogly my way or something!!!

So. Boring.

We need therapy. Okay, only I need therapy – how do I maintain excitement and motivation about a project which no longer keeps my interest?

On the other hand, while knitting what seems to be the most boring shawl ever I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. I have compiled in my head three things I find incredibly odd about this pattern.

What do you think about the following? (opinions of experienced lace knitters are particularly appreciated)

  • The pattern combines both stockinette-stitch and garter-stitch lace sections. The green one above is garter, and the one immediately below is stockinette, for example. Why?
  • The decreases are not paired. You expect certain motifs to be framed by k2togs on one side, and SSK (or whatever alternatives) on the other. This is not the case. In fact, I do not think I’ve used a left-leaning decrease of any kind even once. Why?
  • On the wrong side of garter-stitch lace sections, the decreases are p2tog, while the rest of the stitches are knits (obviously). Wouldn’t it make sense for the decreases to be k2tog, to maintain the whole garter stitch nature of thing?

In conclusion, blah and yawn. Someone pass me a new project.


43 thoughts on “Marriage counseling

  1. Ginger

    Sorry to hear the love affair is over.

    I hate when decreases aren’t paired, makes me crazy, guess it’s just a personal preference, but I don’t think it looks right if they aren’t paired, like it’s skewed.

  2. LornaJay

    I believe that in a lot of traditional Shetland lace, the decreases aren’t paired either. Think the original version of Feather & Fan….

  3. betty

    mmm… when I find a shawl where the decreases are not paired, I do it anyway. my engineering mind wouldn’t let me do it any other way. 😉

  4. betty

    mmm… when I find a shawl where the decreases are not paired, I do it anyway. my engineering mind wouldn’t let me do it any other way. 😉

  5. Kimberly

    As a knitter of lace and shawls in particular here are my opinions –

    1. Using SS and garter for each section may give some depth and oomph to the shawl for the eye to look at.

    2. I assume that the designer (or editor) took the lazy way out of writing it. I would have ignored the pattern done paired decreases.

    3. A p2tog is left slant dec. If all the dec’s on the right side are left it would stand out. to make a right slant dec on the purl side is a (in my opinion) a feat that can cause injury if you don’t warm up properly. It involves slipping the stitches, twisting needles and a good chance that the stitches will drop off and unravel.

    I hope this helps a little.

  6. linda

    Kathy, there is nothing that says you have to always finish. The shawl is lovely, but it is just material. You could put it away for a few years, too.

  7. LaurieM

    Why not take on the challenge of creating something new to go into the boring part? You could put in as many googly-mooglies as your exacting little heart desires! Not to mention the thrill and drama of all that math.

  8. Kate

    Did you tell the shawl, “it’s not you, it’s me?” just to make it feel better about the end of the love affair? I don’t know what to say. If you are bored by patterns written in Japanese now, I’m worried. I agree with Laurie, maybe you should alter this pattern to challenge you. Or you can do what I do. Knit the boring bits while thinking of the next project!

  9. Ellen

    Well, as you noted, it could be an opportunity for letting your mind roam around…since you clearly don’t have to focus on the shawl. You know, you could get into that whole “new yoga” mindfulness and meditativeness and all that jazz.

    Or you could just quit and do something you love.

    Life is, after all, too short to knit things you hate.

  10. Alison

    It is lovely. I’ve lost interest in things before, but find occasionally if I put them down for a while (say a year), sometimes I’ll pick them back up with renewed enjoyment.

    I do sympathize with the frogging thing. I was about half-way through a Trellis scarf when a friend pointed out that I had dropped one of the k7tog stitches way back about 2 inches from the beginning and it was unravelling. I probably could have “fixed” it, but I would have always known. I had to frog it back yesterday. Heart-wrenching!

  11. kat

    I am not particularly lace experienced, but the second issue just seems wierd. I don’t even like it when the decreases on teddy bears that I knit are not paired up (the halves of the face out to be symmetrical after all.) I agree with the person who thought that the designer was being lazy.

  12. Sarah

    So sorry to hear about your estrangement from Mr. Mountainash. I can certainly understand why you’ve fallen out of love; I have a hard enough time staying focused on a regular repeating lace pattern, especially when the rows get really long.

    I can’t really contribute much to the discussion of your three interesting points, although they’ve gotten me thinking. I find that things like non-paired decreases come up a lot, and usually I just modify the pattern to make the decreases paired. My only guess regarding the stockinette vs. garter issue is that the designer wanted to add some different texture to the design in addition to the lace patterning, but maybe didn’t think too much about how to work decreases in.

  13. Judy

    Put it in time-out for a while and do some other things…then when you come back it will be half-done and you’ll be able to whip out the rest for a quick gift or something. Like someone said previously, life is too short to knit something you’re not enjoying!

  14. Jody

    Books on tape! That gets me through most boring projects. You don’t have to really think about your knitting and can just zone out and enjoy your book.

  15. Janice in GA

    Re garter/stockinette sections: I’m a little surprised that they’re combining garter and stockinette stitch, since you can come up with different gauge on the different sections. I’m guessing they assume any differences will block out, given the highly stretchable/blockable nature of lace. As Betty said above, the different textures might generate some visual interest, I guess. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another lace pattern that does that.

    Re non-paired decreases: I believe that some knitters of very fine lace don’t feel the need to include paired decreases in their motifs. The feeling seems to be that since the yarn is so fine, you won’t see that level of detail anyway. Unpaired decreases seem to bother some folks more than others, and some lace knitters I know will put them in even if the pattern doesn’t require it.

  16. Laura

    unpaired decreases = yuck

    I would have made put left-leaning decreases in where I thought they would be appropriate. Maybe people won’t notice, but I’m picky that way.

  17. Judi

    how do I maintain excitement and motivation about a project which no longer keeps my interest?

    ***who said you had to be interested or motivated to finish it? Is that a rule? It is knitting, not a major life milestone, do with it whatever makes you most comfortable. Rip it out and use the yarn for something you like better, put it away until you find a use for it, finish it to get a sense of completion/closure.

    As for the other questions, they are waaaaay above my head, I am doing well to get all the stitches in the right places, not nearly experienced enough to care about mirrored decreases, probably wouldn’t recognize them anyway.


  18. Jody

    Wow. I was just noticing that it appears that there is a knit edging on that baby. If you’re struggling now, that edging is going to freaking kill you. It’s a lovely shawl and I hope you endure. May the force be with you.

  19. Zari

    Garter stitch pulls in more lengthwise, doesn’t it? Maybe they’re using garter wherever the motifs need to be just a little different in gague in order to keep the right shaping?

  20. Miriam

    Those things you mentioned are VERY weird. They’re the kind of things I always end up fixing in patterns I knit. It’s like they didn’t know anything about pairing decreases. And I think that garter lace and stockinette lace shouldn’t be paired in a piece…. that’s very strange.

    When I get to that point with a piece (even one I’m designing) I end up focusing on the little things, in your case, your rows are getting smaller and smaller, and you’re getting closer and closer to being done. I make small goals for myself. Like “10 more rows until this motif is finished!” And I count down. Of course, I was the kid who made construction paper chains to count down the entire month of December until Christmas came.

  21. Stephanie

    You know that I’m not going to be any help at all on your questions. I don’t know any more about it than you do (less by now, I’m sure). If it were me, I’d ask Eunny – she seems to know all things lace related. What were you going to do with Mountainash when you finished him? If it was going to be a gift for your mom or grandma, is it still worth plugging along? I know you’re going to do whatever you want anyway, so I say just go with your instinct.

  22. Ashley

    Oooof–I feel you. 15 repeats into Madli, the challenge has worn off, and so has the charm. Maybe we should both trade up–I’ll finish Mountainash (HA! as if!) and you can more on to something more challenging for yourself.

    I’d pair those decreases right up, though 🙂

  23. Lotta

    Sometimes I wonder, why I make myself knit boring projects. But the thing is, they are not boring at first, and if I only knit projects that didn’t ever bore me, I’d only be knitting hats and single mittend and socks. Something small enough that I can get it done in a week, and certainly not a pair of anything! But I hope things turn out for the best for you and Mr MA.

    As for the garter vs. stockinette… I find that odd, and can’t come up with a very good explanation. The decreases -I suppose somebody could think that when the stitches are small enough, it doesn’t really matter which way the decreases go, you can’t tell anyways. And doing them all the same simplifies things. But the p2tog on the W side of garter? That really puzzles me… it’s almost as if the whole garter thing is a typo, and it should all be stockinette after all.

  24. Nessa

    Oh, poor dear. Put the project down and give it a nice long break, when you pick it back up again you’ll appreciate it better. I’ve given large lace projects a break of 6 months or so – just secure them well against the agony of accidentally slipping needles.

    Your questions:

    1. That’s probably the way the patterns that the designer liked were written – just my guess.

    2. Not everyone likes to fuss with paired decreases. I’m fond of Orenburg lace, which uses only knit, YO, K2tog, and K3tog. I appreciate the Git-R-Done attitude. And it really doesn’t seem to make that much difference in fine lace – who would notice, besides the knitter? No-one that I’ve gifted with a shawl has ever asked me if my decreases were properly paired. :-> If I see them in a pattern, I usually follow the rules, but must admit to cheating on occasion and substituting a K2togb for the SSK, which I find tedious.

    3. P2tog in garter lace is just plain weird. I wouldn’t bother with ’em. It won’t show up in lace, anyway.

  25. Marianne

    Getting bored of patterns is always my problem. My poor Daughter is dieing for me to finish at least one poncho for her I have two on the go. Perhaps I will have them finished the next time they are in ‘fashion’.

  26. andrea

    I am knitting the black stole from the same book, and took note of the same lack of paired decreases. When I knit very fine lace in garter stitch, I don’t pair my decreases. In stockinette I do, and I would even if the designer didn’t. One thought I had: some older patterns don’t bother to tell you to mirror the decreases. They just assume you will… I don’t think that is likely in these Japanese patterns, just a comment. Mixing garter and stockinette lace doesn’t bother me and it should block just fine in the yarn you are using (I love that yarn.) Doing p2tog on the garter stitch side is very odd…maybe something is lost in translation. As I am figuring out the black stole, there are several things “lost in translation”:) Good luck! It really looks wonderful so far.

  27. TracyKM

    I’m working on partially designing a baby shawl.

    I know that a lot of the really old lace patterns only use k2tog or sl 1, k2tog, psso. They didn’t seemed concerned back then with matching things up.

    As for the garter sections…garter has a different gauge, so maybe it makes it work out better. And some things look better in stockinette, but some garter sections gives you a bit of a reprieve from purling.

    I was wondering why scouting patterns, if it says p2tog tbl (Torture), but I’m doing it in the round, it’s just a SSK or sl 1, k1, psso (I did figure a way to do that purlwise instead of p2tg tbl).

    Hope you manage to keep it up. As Dr. Phil says “Sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the decision right”.

  28. Melissa

    I agree with several of the other commenters, Shetland lace patterns generally just use k2tog, and sl1, k2tog, psso. I just completed a Shetland lace stole, and only used k2tog, not paired decreases, and it looks great! I like the galloping horse theory…if you can’t tell from a galloping horse, it doesn’t really matter 🙂

  29. Presbytera

    Ooof. A couple of thoughts —

    1. Around my house, the motto is Boring Is Good. I bet you were thinking this when you were frogging…

    2. I can’t claim to be a lace knitter (Knitty’s Branching Out nearly drove me insane), but your questions could definitely be answered in complete and astonishing detail by Eunny. I’m sure you’ve heard of her…

    3. To combat the boredom, perhaps you could fool around (on paper)with the pattern of each section as you knit. That way, when you’re done you’ll have designed your own shawl…

    Good luck!!!

  30. Mary

    Another motivator: think of a female friend or relative who has an upcoming birthday and decide to give it to them. Nothing motivates me to finish a project like a deadline.

  31. Linda

    As someone who has been MARRIED for 21 years I will say that I have found value to “boring”, and what comes after it i.e. falling in love over and over again – if not with the same exact project – the same craft!

  32. Mary

    The shawl is beautiful! You’ve completed the most complicated components and you ought to be very proud. Look at it this way: You’re almost done! Watch TV, a good movie or a re-run, while finishing up the “boring” part. I’ll bet you’ll be done in no time. By your graph, it looks like you are more than 1/2 way done. When this is blocked, you’ll be glad you finished such a gorgeous project. — These are all the things I tell myself when I’m at a slow part of a shawl. 🙂 ” Go, Kathy, Go! You can do it!”

    If you need a challenge…I think you can get it finished this weekend.:0.

  33. brooke

    This is a tough one. Continue knitting a boring project- doesn’t sound appealing. Add some new challenging motifs seems like a good solution to keep it interesting-but there are issues…if you added some challenging patterns, would you still alternate st st and garter stitch patterns? (Maybe done to make the lace patterns really pop?) Would you continue doing only right-slanting decreases to match the rest of the shawl already completed? Probably not. Recreating the last part of the shawl with matching decreases may look odd (and/or feel odd knowing the previous treacherous rows were not knit this way). I don’t think putting it away for a few months is the answer on this one, because what is boring now is surely to be boring later. Oh, I can’t decide what you should do! It does look lovely so far, maybe just knit the boring parts and be done with it.

  34. Amanda

    Could the love affair be dwindling in part because Mountainash is only half a man? Sorry, couldn’t resist. How many stitches are on the needles right now? At least, it’s getting smaller and smaller… less time per row… I know I can’t say much to help motivate you, as you’ll come to your own decision, but it would be nice to actually be able to wear it! No one else will have the same one, that’s for sure!

  35. carol

    I suffer from knitting ADD. So I usually have atleast 2 projects on the go along with the ever-present sock. This saves me from being bored since I can just switch around at need!

  36. Julia

    I consider myself to be an “expert” knitter and I am completely baffled by these choices. Perhaps my lace knitting is not so “expert”?

  37. April

    but HEY, now you’re turning Japanese I think you’re turning Japanese I really think so – I mean, how else could you explain that now you can read Japanese Knitting instructions. What’s your IQ? you are scary smart! haha

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