Sunday, January 7, 2007

Heere Be Dragones Journal--Row 135

I hit row 135 this morning, which is just past the tail coils and on to the tummy and wings. I know most of you won't believe this, but the knitting gets easier as you progress. The logic of the pattern becomes obvious and, if you count judiciously and use lifelines religiously, you'll begin to sail along about row 40 or so.

This pattern is actually easier than the Peacock shawl, once you have mastered the range of new stitch techniques that Sharon incorporated into the design,

I discovered early on that this piece always requires two lifelines. If you have to tink back a row, well, you have to remove the first lifeline. And of course, as soon as you do that and begin to tink things like K3tog/no slant, the stitches follow the Fourth Law of Thermodynamics:

Stitches will always drop to the cast-on row.

So I always retain the lifeline of the row before, giving me several backups, should I really start goofing up.

There have been no big problems, but there was a point of confusion about the wing stitches. There are actually two sets of instructions for these. The first set just says that they are twisted on the right side and slipped on the wrong side. But if you go back to the first page of directions, you'll see that these stitches float on top of other stitches, which requires that you do some fancy things in terms of slipping stitches to cable needles and moving the wing stitches into position over one or two background stitches on the right side of the work.

This concept probably will make absolutely no sense until you arrive at that point. Trust me, it will become obvious. And some people didn't bother to float the stitches at all. Your call.

The biggest headache about this piece is the size of the charts. One person constructed an elaborate easel with foamcore that extends the full four pages of graphs and used about four pounds of Post-It notes and a gaily colored array of markers to keep track of everything.

This concept was more than I could handle. My office is basically paperless--I use laptops for everything, including reading ebooks, generating pattern graphs, and so on. So I constructed an elaborate virtual easel in CorelDraw, with sliding, color-coded stitch counters, multiple views, and variably transparent "paper" so I could see the rows below my current place in the chart.

Here's an annotated screen shot of a section of row 135 (click the picture for a less fuzzy view):

And here's a zoomed-out view so you can see my sliding marker collection.

It takes only a few minutes to adjust the real markers to match the virtual ones, and the system has proven to be foolproof. It's basically impossible to make a mistake, as long as I count accurately.

On to the wings, now.


Lacefreak said...

That shawl is on my list to knit, provided I get any of my other shawls done that are still on the needles! You have an interesting mind you know that? I mean, really interesting how you go at problems and solve them in new and different ways. Keep up the good work and I will look on in envy until I can start my own Dragones shawl:-)

veritas said...

my mind is bogging at how wonderful that shawl is.... i've looked at the link you had to the other blog on it... wow. i really, really want to give that a go when i am a little more advanced in my knitting ways.... wow....

Anonymous said...

Shawl is looking good. I've just started - finished the first chart last night. I'm using Zephyr and it seems to be knitting up very nicely. I'm taking it slow and easy as I intensely dislike markers and lifelines. I've only forgotten one yarn over (so far) but detected it before any damage was done. You really have to keep your eye on stitches!

Wye Sue said...

I got to row 100 last night and I'm begining to work out what I'm doing without having to count every stitch !

I'm using a magnetic board and long magnets to see where I'm upto ... trying to work out how to cope with more than two charts at once, but I've got at least a week before I get that far ;-)