Sunday, April 19, 2009

Going Bats

A well-written pattern is akin to a gripping novel--tightly plotted and suspenseful, and a satisfying denouement with all the loose ends tidily wrapped up. A poorly written pattern, on the other hand, reminds me of a badly produced movie--terrible acting, disjointed, confusing plot, and loose ends galore at the end.

Occasionally, I will run across a pattern that makes me snicker. For example, any production with the line "Reserve at least 10 hours for sewing together" is, by definition, a genuine howler.

When I encountered this particular direction in the Queen Ring shawl, I giggled for at least ten minutes.

The original shawl is knitted from the borders inward. I don't like that construction for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the epic sewing-bits-together at the end. I wouldn't mind the sewing so much if it produced an attractive finished product. It doesn't. Sewn-together seams look ugly and I won't use them.

The second problem with the original pattern is that only half of the border is neatly mitered around the center's corners. The other two sides are stretched into shape during blocking. The stretching might work if the shawl is knitted with a nice, compliant wool yarn. It probably won't work with something like cashmere/silk yarn, which has the elasticity of a watermelon. The fact that the corners in the lovely photo are scrunched together and not viewable makes me uneasy. I want fully mitered corners that won't produce an unpleasant surprise after hundreds of hours of intense knitting.

Thus, I regraphed the shawl to be knit from the center outward, which means the border is picked up around the center square and knitted around and around (and around and around and etc. etc., and so forth....).

This process has its own inherent problems. First, the border itself must be inverted, because it's being knitted from top to bottom instead of bottom to top. Anyone who has ever reversed a pattern knows that it's usually impossible to simply turn it upside-down. And then there is the tedium of having to purl every other round in pattern to maintain the garter stitch in circular knitting mode. I tried a number of different fake corners to avoid the purling, but didn't care for the results.

Unfortunately, at some point during this epic graphing production, I took a well-deserved break. When I returned to the computer, Harry had redesigned the shawl border to suit his bizarre awful regrettable erm, unique taste. He had lopped off the seed pods (a decision I applauded) and substituted the never-before-revealed Shetland motif: Flying Bats.



Harry announced that he just adores bats. I was a bit puzzled when he uttered that statement, because airborne insect-devouring predators just didn't strike me as arachnid-friendly. However, Harry pointed out that bats make exceptional targets and he enjoys plinking at them with his custom-built Barrett Model 82A1 .50 caliber sniper rifle (with BORS optics).

I also took issue with his introduction of non-traditional motifs into a mostly traditional Shetland shawl. I have this uneasy feeling that, after having worked his bats into the shawl border, I will open the door and find a mob of enraged Shetland Islanders bearing torches and brandishing pitchforks. But Harry pointed out that our designs often begin with a healthy respect for tradition and end up, well, different than the original pattern.

So, here's a bit of eye candy for you. It's one repeat of the center. The shawl is being worked in a 52/2 yarn composed of 60% wool, 20% cashmere, 20% silk that I purchased at Avril and dyed myself. Alas, there is no more of it, which is a real loss to the lace-knitting community. It's a lovely knit.

21 comments:

Laritza said...

.....stretched into shape during blocking. ......is what killed me about Princess. I agree better do the homework now than have an unpleasant surprise like I did.

Kitty Kitty said...

I can not wait to see how it turns out. That is one pattern I have looked at and just laughed at how hard it looked in the photo.

Dave said...

It could be a bat, but it could also be a cormorant or, umm, an albatross. Either way, it's going to be gorgeous!

kat said...

Beautiful work and that yarn sounds heavenly!

I have also admired that pattern, but balked at the idea of all that sewing on of borders business - bravo to you (and Harry)for having the determination and talent to redesign a more reasonable (and attractive) version.

catitude1 said...

By the way, should the pitchfork-wielding Shetlanders come calling, remind them that there are bats on the Shetland Islands and you are just celebrating an overlooked part of their ecosystem and they should thank you for it.

http://www.breiviewguesthouse.co.uk/holiday-stay-shetland-isles.html

CrazyFiberLady said...

I'm with Harry, I like the bats. And I too guffawed when I read that bit about 10 hours to put together. Muahahahha. I just love sewing knit pieces together. That's why I knit most sweaters in the round and kvetch about grafting the underarm seam stitches.

BadCatDesigns said...

Wonderful! I look forward to watching you (and Harry) progress. You both have such a way with Shetland motifs!

Opal said...

this promises to be an epic thriller! it's coming along just beautifully and the suspense of not knowing what will come next is killing me. ;)

Kelli said...

I've slowly been learning my lesson about reading a pattern through fully.

Bo... said...

You know, I don't knit other people's shawls precisely because of strangely written patterns---and errors. I'm just not a skilled enough knitter to figure out how to fix a discrepancy. But recently I saw a shawl so pretty that I just HAD to knit it---but after I knitted a few inches and got completely confused because of errors, and then asked the pattern designer how to fix them, I kind of got the impression that I was a pain in the a... (I was told that I should just "look at it to figure out how it should be".) (The whole thing was frustrating since the designer specifically said they'd "fixed all the errors"...)

Thus, I usually write my own patterns for stuff.

Jane said...

What a mammoth undertaking to re-graph, re-write, re-create that shawl! I love the "Bats" and you and Harry were never slaves to convention anyway so the center looks great to me. Of course, the mob at the door with pitch forks are a bit of a worry but that high powered weapon that Harry has for the bats could also be a solution for that worry as well :-) You did a great job dying the yarn. I look forward to seeing it in progress!

KPiep said...

Holy Crumb! I hadn't seen the Queen Ring pattern yet. I think perhaps I'll be putting an order together later on today...

My Green Woman thoroughly applauds any and all of Harry's work. She frequently does the same for me.

deniasha said...

Harry may be a complete bat...I mean brat...but he does have great taste in knitting motifs. Of course, I think Dave has the right idea, it's a lovely bird instead of a bat. That should keep the crazed Shetlands away from you.

desert tyrtle said...

2/52?! Wow, what size needle?

Anonymous said...

Please keep us all posted on what Harry is doing.

I always look forward to what he is doing. Is he letting you help at all?

Hege said...

It is an incredible shawl! Even the preview is 7 pages long! I feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you and Harry are doing in redesigning the entire border :), but it will be just gorgeous!
Can't wait to see it!

heidi said...

this will be so interesting to follow!

and the eye candy that you provided in this post makes it even more promising:)

Carol said...

10hours for seaming a shawl? That would make me put it down right away. And since i haven't got your mad skillz at lace, it would never be made. So I am looking forwward to seeing yours.

Tikabelle said...

Oof. I just ordered both the Queen Anne and the Princess shawls. Any chance you would be willing to share your center-out re-charting, bats and all? I know it's greedy of me, but you are obviously doing a much better job than I (or Sharon Miller for that matter) ever did.

Batty said...

BATS!

Terylieze said...

Hrm... I don't suppose you'd be willing to write up the Shetland Bats pattern, would you?