I’ve learned a lot from my first big lace project. It all started a couple of years ago. (Yep – this is my longest-running UFO ever.) For my birthday, my friend gave me the fabulous book “Victorian Lace Today” by Jane Sowerby. I took a lace class at my LYS, made about a dozen swatches (and you wonder where I get the nickname Swatch Queen), and settled on a yarn I liked. I commenced to knit the Leaf and Trellis design… some would say obsessively. I was really getting the hang of this lace knitting thing! I completed the center and got a good start on the border.
Then I put it down for about a year, as I allowed Life and other projects to divert my attention. Big mistake.
When I picked the project up again, it was as if I’d never laid eyes on it, let alone contributed countless hours to its existence already. I studied the diagrams. I looked at my previous work. Still, the squiggles on the charts meant nothing to me. I previously thought that after knitting about 16,000 of the same stitch, I would never have to look it up again. But no. And I kept forgetting the silliest things, like doing the “pass over” part of “psso”.
I discovered some nifty techniques along the way that I thought I’d share with you. Maybe you’ll find them handy too!
One thing that helped me get back on track was my own chart I had created (and even saved – yay!) right in the beginning. I used Stitch & Motif Maker to replicate the chart from the book. As you can see in the photo below, I put little numbers in the stitch squares before a long-ish series of knit stitches. I did this because I found that when I’m following a chart and run into a series of blank squares representing knit stitches, I get hung up having to think about how many stitches are coming up. I can glance at any chart and my brain immediately registers seeing one, two, or three stitches in a row. But any more than that and I have to mentally pause, especially when it gets to be six or seven. Which is it? Six? Seven? Four? The little numbers I put in the squares tell me “knit four” or “knit seven” – whatever the case may be. One glance and I can chug along without pause.
Another thing that made it well worth the charting effort is that Stitch & Motif Maker puts the stitch numbers along the bottom of the chart. Unfortunately, the charts in Victorian Lace Today do not include the stitch numbers. To me, it makes it cumbersome to keep track of how many stitches I should have on the needles at any given point. Making my own charts allows me to quickly see the stitches I should have; considering how frequently I make mistakes, this is a very good thing!
By making my own chart I could also make it plenty big enough to see easily. I print it on cardstock paper so it doesn’t slide around in my lap. The post-its I use to mark my place stick better, too.
To keep track of which stitches are to receive double and triple joins, I put two different colors of removeable stitch markers in the stitches. I used turquoise to indicate a double join, and orange to indicate a triple join.
I’m determined to get this shawl completed before my next birthday, which is right around the corner. (Honestly, without deadlines I’d atrophy altogether.) With luck, I’ll be wearing this to my birthday dinner!