theraineysisters knitting and so much more

April 19, 2006

From Sally — More on Mindful Knitting

Filed under: Knitting Tips — Sally @ 12:51 pm

One of the problems in having a knitting blog I’ve realized is that readers (including, especially, my sister) can see just how many projects I have going at any one time. I can’t help it. It’s in my nature.

This winter, I’ve been of a mood to knit shawls, and I just started a new one. It’s a fairly simple lace pattern from Hand Jive Knits that will result in a long, rectangular shawl. You start it by knitting a border and then picking up the stitches for the body of the shawl from that border. When it’s long enough, you knit the other border and cast off at the same time. I am doing it in their yarn, in color Odd Duck #5 (which is how they name their variegated yarns). Here is the shawl in progress. I’ve pinned it so that you can get a better idea of how the lace will look when blocked since lace typically looks a bit shriveled and uninteresting before then. The lace pattern itself is called Dayflowers, and I first saw it in Barbara Walker’s second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

Let me explain how this project relates to “mindful” knitting. The pattern directions only give the lace pattern in written direction form instead of in a chart, probably because the number of stitches varies from row to row. Although one can certainly chart such a pattern, it takes a bit more effort. You start with 140 stitches. The directions for the first row, which is the wrong side, say:

K3, *p15, k2; repeat from * to the last stitch, K1.

Bear with me for a tiny bit of math. I like to make sure the numbers work, which is something I almost always check before I start a pattern with repeats.

From my 140 stitches I subtract 3 (for the first three stitches because they are not part of the repeat). That gives me 137. I subtract 1 (for the last stitch, which is also not part of the repeat). That gives me 136. Each repeat has 17 stitches (the 15 you purl and the two that you knit), so I divide 136 by 17 to make sure it goes in evenly. It does! Yay! I have 8 full pattern repeats. So, when I started the shawl, I placed markers after each K2 so that I would know where my repeats started and ended; that’s especially useful for lace patterns in which the number of stitches varies depending upon the row. It’s easier to find and isolate a mistake.

So, with one row under my belt and my markers in place, I turned to the first RS row. Here is what the pattern says:

K3, *yo, K2 together, yo [K2 tog] 3 times, K2, yo, K3, yo, ssk, yo, K2; repeat from * to the last stitch, K1.

The math here works, but where I placed the markers didn’t. If you look again at the swatch, you’ll see that each pattern repeat is separated by a “ladder” of 2 stitches worth of garter stitch with a yarnover on either side. On the first WS row, I placed my marker after those 2 stitches. But, on the first RS row, the pattern also ends with those 2 knit stitches. Therefore, as I knit that row, those stitches were on the wrong side of my marker. (Have I lost all of you yet?) After a few moments of wondering if I had miscounted something, I realize what had happened and I shifted the markers 2 stitches over. In effect, that meant I was reading the first wrong side row as K1, *K2, P15; repeat from * to the last 3 stitches, K3 and making a similar adjustment on all of the wrong side rows. It’s a small thing, and it was easy to figure out by paying attention. Making that minor adjustment makes the pattern much easier to read and knit.

I’ve also started some more socks, which I’ll post pictures of later. I’ve also gone back to a sweater I started a long time ago from an absolutely stunning design. I’ll be back with photographs of that, too.


  1. You lost me after, “Hello.” Just kidding. The simple misplacement of an * can totally screw up a pattern (see my Rosemary Pullover design in Simply Shetland 2!).

    It shouldn’t matter to anyone else how many projects you have going. It’s your business and the way you like to knit. I am motivated by the final product. This is the “product vs process” dilemma that plagues knitters. The way I look at it is, this is a hobby — enjoy it anyway you want. And don’t feel guilty if you decide you want to switch to some other project. It keeps you fresh and revitalized. I need to do a bit more of that. Maybe after I finish my Summer Tweed Cardigan!!

    Comment by lv2knit — April 19, 2006 @ 3:13 pm

  2. Pretty shawl! Thanks for the math/how to check the pattern lesson. I found it very helpful. I also found the hint about using markers to help with the pattern repeats one of those “duh – dummy me never thought of that” moments. Anyway, interesting and informative blog — thanks!

    I haven’t touched my sweater since we got back from vacation — hopefully I’ll get back to it this afternoon outside in the glorious weather.

    (Still looking for the perfect little cable sweater pattern…)

    Comment by Wendy — April 20, 2006 @ 9:50 am

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