I didn’t post pics of the mistake I made in Irtfaa the other night. Here’s the right way:

And here’s the wrong way:

In the first one, the faggoting between the increase sections continues right down to the edge, where Branden’s pointer is. In the second one, it should continue down to the point where the two needles cross, but it sort of hiccups a few rows before the edge. I couldn’t figure out what the heck I’d done, until I pulled it back and started working through that section again, where I promptly repeated the mistake and caught myself in the act. Simple misreading of the chart, putting in a second repeat of something that should only have happened once. I feel better now that I know what I did. I don’t like it when the universe throws inexplicable problems my way, but when it’s clearly my fault and I can see what I did I don’t mind so much.

That’s a good thing, because I have another one of those situations now. Remember the swatch? It turned out a little bit smaller than gauge, and I briefly considered switching to size 6 needles. It was close (within half an inch, I think…it was too big with the Pryms, and then it shrunk an inch), and I didn’t have size 6 needles, so I decided to just continue as planned and hope that blocking would do the trick.

Well, blocking will cure half an inch, but it won’t cure 4 inches. That’s right, four inches. It turns out that the shoulder increase that I just finished is supposed to be 7.5 inches long. Mine is 3.5 inches long. The more I try to use patterns, the more I realize that my row gauge is just wonky. If someone says I should get 7 rpi, I get 10 or 11. I was actually surprised how close the row gauge was to right when I swatched for Irtfaa. But that was in stockinette. Apparently, when I switched to lace, I lost half of my length. I find this slightly mystifying. My stitches per inch are a little bit small, but only by maybe 10%, meaning that the width for the shawl is a little short, but it’s just about right. Not wrong enough to make me think that I should expect to be 4 inches short of Anne’s length, anyway, and just about what I’d expect for being one needle size too small. Judging by her post-blocking photos, my version is only about an inch narrower than hers, but it’s 4 inches shorter. Very odd. I had intended to do some experimenting as part of the knitting grammary to see if I could get to the bottom of this recurrent issue, but I haven’t gotten there yet. Maybe I should bump it up the list. Here’s the completed (correct) shoulder increase part of the shawl:

Sorry for the asymmetrical pinning; my needles weren’t long enough to stretch the whole thing.

Isn’t it pretty? How about some closer-ups? (As always, click for a really big picture)

I really love how it’s coming out. It’s a really beautiful lace, and I love the color of the Thraven. Pretty, pretty.

It’s too bad that I’m going to have to frog this piece. I can’t come up with anything useful for it to do, though, and I definitely need to go up at least one and probably two needle sizes. Now, don’t go feeling bad for me. This is why I never rely on swatches when I start a project. Somehow, no matter how much I swatch or how careful I am to knit the same way that I always do, something happens and the final product is different than my swatch would predict. When I made a sweater for my sister, I swatched carefully, and ended up with about a foot of extra width in the original piece. That’s just the way it is, and I’m ok with ripping.

Really, I am. I usually end up ripping the first 6 to 8 inches of something, once I’ve gotten a good solid feel for how it’s shaping up and how to change it. That’s most of the reason that I didn’t run out and get new needles when I realized that my gauge was a little off of the pattern. If I had changed then and reswatched, I would be angry now to discover that the gauge on the actual piece is wrong. This is one of those “know thyself” things. If I’d measured and altered and measured again, I would expect my gauge to be perfect, given that I’d put all that effort into checking that it would be. Since I didn’t do more than a very basic swatch, I started out accepting the fact that this might not end up perfect, and I am perfectly ok with ripping it out and starting over. Maybe it’s a personality quirk, but I am much happier doing a quick swatch to test, changing if it appears necessary, and then just diving in and re-doing if I have to, which, in this case, I do.

Further items on the plus side are as follows:
1) I have now swatched the entire shoulder increase section twice, and have a pretty good sense of what’s going on, and where I’m likely to mess it up.
2) I’ve gotten much better (and faster) at reading charts, which will make redoing a lot easier.
3) I was actually kind of sad to leave this lace behind, because I really liked working it. Now I get to work it again.

So, on the whole, I think this has been a successful venture so far. And, I’ve really been enjoying the mental stretch, even if it means I can’t work on it for very long at one go. I think my biggest complaint so far is that I get tired too easily, which means that I have to put it down sooner than I’d like. Then I resist putting it down for “just one more row” and end up making mistakes because my brain isn’t up to it anymore. But, if that’s the worst thing I have to say about a project, I think I’m in pretty good shape. =)