Mathematics and physics

A note: I realize this post may be a bit much for those of us in holidaze. But for the rest of you, there are words, and a good number of ’em, below. Then some pictures :).

Despite my initial plan to start the border attachment at 45″, I caved in at only 40. Impatience? Early stages of boredom with the center panel? Fear of running out of yarn? Likely, a combination of all three.

Knowing that I’d be substituting a daintier border for the recommended one, and having little experience in “border attachment” matters, I studied the instructional sections of Victorian Lace Today.

After a few readings, I felt I had a good handle on the vocabulary used in the book (single, double, triple joins), and understood the mathematics of attaching a border: ratio of border rows to center panel rows, including rounding corners. The instructional section also featured a border more narrow than in any of the actual patterns, so I decided to go for it.

That’s when I ran into a bit of a headache. While terms like “knit through the back loop,” and “knit 2 together,” and “slip purlwise with yarn at RS” make sense individually, they morph into a head-scratching puzzle when combined together in border instructions. I found myself confused about the physics of border attachment – when to turn the work, when to move the yarn to the front or back of the project, where to stick the needle, and in what manner…

After starting and ripping 3 times, I decided to consult other sources. First, I revisited the Misty Morning shawl. That’s a reliable source of instruction! (smirk) Next I took out Mountainash.

With MMS and MA at my side, the phrase blind leading the blind (rightfully) popped into my mind.

Nonetheless, I was able to extract some meaning by comparing and contrasting the patterns at my disposal. After considering the direction of attachment (clockwise vs. counterclockwise), and whether the border is attached after working a right- or wrong-side row, I came to the conclusion that the Melon Scarf center panel has to be facing me wrong-side up when the border-attaching stitch is worked. Otherwise, the yarn travels too many times around the shawl edge and becomes bulky.

Well, at least that’s what I’m thinking right now :). It seems to be working, so I have no reason to try something different.

I think the border’s large holes created by the double yarnovers go well with the openness of the melon stitch.

Balancing the amount of yarn dedicated to center vs. border is the only remaining mystery…


41 thoughts on “Mathematics and physics

  1. Daphne

    oh my! I braved the post in spite of the headache and oh, the loveliness of the silk is worth it. I believe VLT is next on my list, thanks to your posts about it.

  2. Barb outside Boston

    I made the Shetland Triangle in silk and really liked the crispness of it–that is what I see (& love) in the Melon.

    And does it make me weird that I get all giddy when I see a title like Mathematics and Physics?!


  3. Sarah

    I had myself convinced that I don’t really need Victorian Lace Today. Now that I read about the instructional sections on border attachment, I again feel the pull to purchase. The fact that there are vocabulary terms I will need to familiarize myself with makes me all the more attracted to this book. Thank you for sharing more of your experiences.

  4. Maritza

    Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, now that I have managed to wipe the drool off of myself and the keyboard, I must say, the melon shawl is coming along beautifully. Absolutely gorgeous.

    P.S. – “blind leading the blind” = too funny!

  5. Pam

    Being only an intermediate knitter, I started trembling in fear after reading the border instructions in VLT. I’m glad to see someone much more experienced than I was unsure; it gives me hope for my own projects! Thanks for the information and helpful directions!

  6. Lynn


    Way to let that silly yarn know who’s boss. What we knitters can do with tons of books, some sticks and string. πŸ™‚ (Gorgeous string albeit!)

  7. Jen

    That looks really nice. Aesthetically it’s very simple, but it really ties in with the pattern well. I would never know that you were making this up as you went. If that helps! Well played. πŸ™‚

  8. Sundara

    Very interesting! The border you are using is perfect for the scarf. Just perfect. I hope it continues to work out.

  9. Kai

    That is looking especially yummy… πŸ™‚

    I nearly had a heartattack… Mistry..!! That’s my second name, so I click on the link and notice that it should be Misty Mountain… hmm.. I thought we were famous for a second!! πŸ™‚

    Ah well.. can’t wait to see the final product.

    I got my VLT a couple of weeks back, but what with all the Christmas knitting, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and peruse it thoroughly..

  10. Angelika

    I enjoy seeing the progress on your melon scarf. Adding the border reminds me of the print o’ the wave I finished. I bet changing the pattern to fit your needs makes you feel so much in charge. After that and all the math to go with it you can tackle anything that comes your way now! Not like I doubted that before.

  11. Emily

    It looks great. I think that there are several “right” ways to attach a border. The one you choose depends on the look you are going for. Yours looks great.

  12. angelarae

    You are an engineer, ma’dear…think you should be given an honorary degree in Yarn Engineering from M.I.T. I could see you as a bridge builder, I really could…:)


  13. Beth S.

    I think you made an excellent choice! I like your border better than the one in the book. Yours is cleaner and less fussy (a good choice to balance a fancy pattern like the melon lace.)

  14. Tania

    Looking lovely. The first time I did an attached border, I messed up in places where I had forgotten to slip the edge stitch. Something to look out for.

  15. Dove

    I don’t know if you’re doing it right, or anything about borders, really (the only time I tried to do a border, I put it on the wrong edges of my shawl. Oops.), but it sure looks good. I say if it works, you’re doing it right, and no one has to know different.

  16. TracyKM

    I had the same sort of issues when I was attaching an edging to a baby blanket. I had made the edging separately for other blankets, so at least I had some idea of how it ‘should’ look, but it always takes me a few inches of the edging before I figure which is the right/wrong side, etc. So, I knit the edging for a few inches without attaching, till I got in the groove. Then finished the blanket attaching as I went and sewed up the start part after.

    Now, for my own baby #3…I decided she needed the blanket right away, and I’d work on the edging as a portable project….it’s been almost a year…and it’s no where near long enough…in fact….I’m not sure where it is…

  17. Steph B.

    I can’t wait to start a project from VLT. I just have to decide which one, they are all so beautiful and I love your choice of edging on the melon. I want to thank Tracy, too, for her idea of knitting some of the edging and then looking at it next to the main part to see which way to go. (That’s grammatically horrible, but hopefully you know what I mean.) As a new lace knitter, that to me was brilliant, as was your point about whether to go clockwise or counterclockwise. I really think it’s the challenge of lace that I enjoy so much, kind of like banging you head against the wall, but without the headache and something pretty to show for it at the end!

  18. Jomy

    I like the scarf without any edging at all. I think that it’d be a better use of that yummy yarn to make the scarf longer… as long as that favorite silk scarf of yours.

    I don’t think that the edging adds much on a nonreversible scarf.

  19. April

    It is simply gorgeous. (hoping you have enough yarn for the border, it looks like a very yarn hungry border) I’m going to be doing my very first real lace knitting next project (after another never ending baby blanket) so I’m hoping to understand this a little more then! haha I didn’t know the border was attached on row at a time, though, that’s scary. I’m hoping the ‘primer on lace’ and ‘beyond the basics of lace’ in the Interweave Knits mags I have will coach me along. eeek

  20. Melissa

    Wow. All of the math stuff sort of slid through my brain (I’m tired) but whatever you’re doing, it looks fabulous. Alas, I am (as yet) only a lace novice, but I find the results intriguing.

  21. MonicaPDX

    Delurking… This makes me go wopjawed in greed and envy. Not a lace knitter, here. Although y’never know, I swore for decades I’d never knit socks, and guess what I’m happily doing now. πŸ˜‰ But that is utterly gorgeous. I think the border is a perfect complement to the rest of the scarf. Thanks for the eyecandy!

  22. Sue F.

    Maybe check out the Print o’ the Wave shawl from See Eunny Knit for directions she used for her pattern? Lovely work, though, and hey, if it works…

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