Thursday, June 26, 2008

Creatures about to emerge

The Creatures of the Reef shawl is moving right along, considering how little time I’ve had for knitting lately – between attempting to get back to work (still waiting for logon credentials for my main client, though – frustrating!) and the usual Denizen wrangling AND ALSO the construction going on in the house PLUS the fact that Dharma has decided to forgive me for taking her to the vet and therefore my lap is again Prime Den Real Estate…it’s a wonder I get any knitting at all done.

ANYWAY. The shawl is moving along.

Creatures shawl 6/25

I’m at the bottom of the crab and seahorse pattern now, having done the scallops (seashells) at the bottom and the first of the ‘bubbles’ patterns. The seashells at the bottom were an interesting thing to accomplish. I tried to get a close up of the result, but I’m not sure you can really see what’s going on here:

closeup of P13Tog

The technique involves putting a whack of yarnovers on the previous row, and then on the next row you slip a stitch, drop the yarnover (repeat a whack of times), and then you purl all the slipped stitches together. Due to having dropped all the yarnovers, they’re much looser than they otherwise would be, making it possible to purl !thirteen! of them together.

Now, call me a rookie here, but I was all like, Whoa. Purl THIRTEEN together?!

There was a bit of cussing and muttering under my breath, but by golly I did it. And without any major mishaps, to boot. The thing that did keep happening to me was that I would get the purl stitch almost all the way through all thirteen stitches. And then the stitch would drop off the needle without actually passing through all the stitches, and now all thirteen of them would be on the wrong needle and I’d have to start all over again with getting them lined up to knit.

I live a very hard life, honestly I do.

So far, though, I’m enjoying the pattern. My only minor gripe is with the charting for the crabs and seahorses, and I suspect that I’m going to be pretty much completely alone on this: I would have preferred the font size to have been shrunk, and the chart fit on one page. What they did instead was print it in two halves and instruct you to tape the two halves together – but in order to do that, you’d have to take some scissors and cut the page in half, on the diagonal, and then tape it together. This would ensure that the piece of taped paper would never, ever fit in a page protector again without strange folding techniques being engaged.

Instead, I’m just leaving it alone and using my native intelligence (Danger, Will Robinson!) to scan the first half on the top right, then swinging my eyeballs down to the bottom left for the second half. And in reverse on the second half of the shawl. (This has Disaster written all over it, huh?) (Which reminds me…I need to set a safety line on this baby, pronto.)

Also, I would have appreciated a text-version of the charts. Oddly, I have trouble following charts…I don’t know if it’s my glasses or what, but I swear I have to stop each and every time, put a finger on the chart, and count aloud to figure out whether that is three, four or five empty spaces between symbols.

They blur, in other words. I look at them, and I don’t see four crisp, empty boxes. I see…uh…hang on…{one, two, three, four} four! Four boxes! Right? Wait. {puts finger on first box…OK…that’s one…two three four!} FOUR!

I’m really enjoying the yarn. This is KnitPicks Shadow, a 100% Merino laceweight, in the ‘Snorkel Heather’ colorway. It is nice and soft, completely unpretentious, isn’t giving me any splitting issues and is showing the lace nicely. The color makes me think of Hawaiian postcards, too.

At $2.99 a skein, and using only two (possibly three, we’ll see) skeins it is perfect for a prayer shawl. It will look like a hundred bucks, without actually costing a hundred bucks. Which is helpful, because otherwise, I’d be making one crummy shawl for the prayer shawl group and that would be my whole entire contribution for the year.

I can’t wait to get those Creatures out of the skein and onto the shawl!


Moorecat said...

I have the same problem distinguishing how many squares are in a section of the chart.

My solution involves a highlighter pen (and a photocopy of the pattern for working purposes, which is legal).

I vertically colour in every other column, then I can easily see whether it's two, three, four or five stitches in that row.

Try it and see (sorry, dreadful pun).

Anonymous said...

i know what you mean on the counting thing. i think i may actually be numerically dyslexic or something. if i have things to count, coins, stitches, or whatever, i have to somehow manipulate them or i mess it all up. may i suggest highliters? all ones are orange, groups of two are green, threes are pink. . . and so on. then you might have to make a chart with the number and colors, but, i've done it before and it saves my sanity.

Anonymous said...

I just write in the number of stitches between symbols. It only takes a few minutes before I start knitting and it saves counting over and over. ^^*^^4<<:>>6***

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem reading charts; go figure. My solution is sticky notes: I put one at each end of the chart row (or in your case, maybe one on each half of the chart?) and then move them when I finish the row. Sometimes I take off most of the unglued paper from the note to save the inevitable catch on the yarn. I've also been known to make little tick-marks on the edge of the note where it's under the pattern row if there is a center stitch or some other 'thing' I have to watch out for or will help me keep track.

It looks lovely, though; I'm looking forward to seeing it grow!

Elizabeth L. in Apex, NC

Anonymous said...

When I have to purl many together, I've learned to use a crochet hook to do the job. Much less stressful.

Anonymous said...

I have to count squares, too. Even when I "know" there are two (or three, or four) I still count, because I just don't trust myself. I'm numerically challenged. :-)

Amy Lane said...

I'm like you--maybe because we wordsmith a lot, but I would rather read the code!

Katie Wright said...

You're doing a great job - can't wait to see it grow!

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with the boxes - and I am never sure I actually counted them right so I do it over and over. Sooooo now I either write in the number (as someone else mentioned) or use a marker to put a colored dot in the center of each box. Yes, it works, I apparently CAN count dots.

Kaviare said...

My eyes see the squares. My brain geos 'ooooh look! Some squares.' My fingers go 'how MANY squares?' My brain goes 'uh... some? And look! Some more up there, too!'


mereth said...

For the chart in two sections, why don't you photocopy the relevant parts and cut and tape them together, instead of the original?You could even enlarge it slightly to make it easier to read, and store it with the pattern in a binder.
Great suggestions for reading the blank squares, it's fascinating realising how the mind likes to work. Blank squares imply 'nothing' to me, so I want to ignore them. That attitue doesn't help when following a chart..

Tola said...

what about using a crochet hook to help keep all thirteen loops under control?

Celestial said...

Idea on those pages you don't want to tape together.

Make a photo copy of each (so you save your original) and cut and tape those. I like to do this with patterns I have. It keeps them in great condition and allows me to make all the marks I want on my working copy.

Celestial said...

(and of course now that I read through the comments I see this was already suggested)