I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I’m a details person. You might also have gathered that I can be a little bit of a perfectionist if I don’t keep myself firmly in check. (That’s the downside of seeing every last detail…it means that every last detail has to be right)

Neither of these things is new, and neither of them is really a problem. In fact, I tend to enjoy fussing over the same detail for hours on end to make sure that it’s perfect. Usually, I avoid this tendency in favor of actually finishing a project once in a while, and it honestly doesn’t bother me when there are some small imperfections here and there.

But lately, that last part has changed. When we bought the new domain name, part of the justification for it was that I could sell a few patterns here and there to offset the cost. It’s an idea that I’ve been tossing around for a couple of years anyway, and now that I’m not in grad school I’m hoping that I’ll have time to write up a few projects once in a while.

The waving lace shawl is currently slated to be the first pattern. (It also has a new name, but that’s another post.)

Writing patterns for other people to follow means that my perfectionist tendencies have free run, and it opens up whole new problems for me to obsess over. (Hence the pandora’s box in the title…)

This is both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because I really like playing with one idea until it’s perfect, as long as I don’t feel rushed to get it done. Even knitting a second version of the same shawl was fun. The perfectionism can also be bad, because it means that I am almost impossible to please.

Knitting the same design in two different yarns has been a really interesting lesson in how yarns and patterns interact. My soft, low-twist, inelastic alpaca handspun blocked out beautifully and pretty much stayed where I put it. The thick, high-twist, commercial sock yarn didn’t. It’s a denser yarn, and the second shawl is slightly bigger, so it has a little more weight to it. When worn, the openwork section tends to stretch lengthwise, causing the ends of the piece to narrow.

It’s not all that noticeable in person, but it’s a pretty big difference, and shows up more dramatically when folded:

My swatch had told me that the width of the two sections would be about the same, but it couldn’t tell me what the fabric would do once knit in a finished piece. Blocked out, these two sections were pretty much identical in width, with only a tiny bit of overstretching at the join. It was hard to get a good picture of the stretching, because it wasn’t really all that noticeable. But, viewed from the right angle, it was definitely there:

It seems that this tightness combines with the weight of the yarn and the character of the openwork lace to narrow the ends. The elasticity of the sock yarn also guarantees that it tries to pull back a bit from where it was blocked. I think this last part is generally a good thing; I like the density and depth that it gives to the waving lace, but in the openwork it’s not as helpful.

Yesterday, I swatched a new join.

This one adds two new openwork columns for every pattern motif, so it ends up a lot wider than the previous version. (Ignore the *ahem* informal blocking…I wasn’t really all that interested in how the edging would look, or in waiting for the yarn to dry before taking pictures…)

This version has none of the stress around the transition, and I got to fix something else that’s been bugging me.

In the last version, the points at the end of the join look a little bit crooked. I’m starting an asymmetric openwork column around a symmetric point, and it shows. It looks like the point is splitting open again right where the openwork comes out. (You can see it in the overstretching picture, too.)

I wanted to tighten that up a bit, so I added an extra sl1 k2tog psso to the point, just before beginning the new columns.

And, to me, they look a lot neater now. I’m still not happy with the yos right at the point. They seem to break up the pattern a little bit, but I think I know how to fix that.

If you need me, I’ll be swatching…