Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Struggles with an Elven Grandmother

I've been working all week on my Haruni shawl, by Emily Ross, and have been thoroughly enjoying it. Haruni means grandmother in Quenya, Tolkien's elven language. It's a project that I've decided to work on at home, simply because lace knitting is never that impressive in-progress, and I didn't feel like coming up for explanations for, "What is that you're working on?" It's just too complicated to explain, sometimes.

It's an extremely well-written pattern, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves knitting lace, and even to those who want to try it for the first time. It is written with a note about the general construction of the shawl, and with overviews about what is going to be accomplished in each section. Usually when you start a pattern, you just have to through caution to the wind and dive in with some faith that the bewildering amount of instructions will yield something that looks like the finished project. I would advise any first-time lace knitters to read through the pattern all the way through before starting off, and to ask lots of questions about anything that seems unclear. It is far too pretty of a project to give up on halfway through.

What I really liked about the instructions is that, in the overview for the first chart, it reads:
Please note that due to the rapid rate of increase in Chart B, it will consume roughly half your entire yardage.
Oh yeah, I love that. That tells me that I have the power to know for sure that I will not run out of yarn.

I think so, anyway.

This in mind, I pulled out the digital scale that I purchased from my friend, Dawg, during his moving sale. Yeah, I could use it for baking and cooking and stuff...

But it's really for my yarn habit.

So, last Monday, I took the ball of Punta Merisock that I was going to use for this project, and weighed it before I started. It weighed 99 grams. Ok, good. That means that, by the time I finish four repeats of the first chart, I should have roughly 50 grams, and I will not, repeat, will NOT run out of yarn. I was even going to knit it with needles smaller than the suggested size, because I couldn't find a set in town that was exactly the suggested size of 3.5mm. It was all good. I had plenty of checks and balances in places.

After the first two and a half repeats, I weighed the yarn remaining in the ball and the scale read 64 grams. After the third repeat, I weighed it again, and the sale read 58 grams. Hmm.

I could just stop the first chart now and move on to the second chart and be sure I won't run out, the logical part of my brain said.

But... if I do that, the shawl will be much smaller, said the whiney part of brain. Surely you want it to be at least as big as the picture shows.

The logical part began to work on the problem. Ok, so it took about 6 grams of yarn to do half a repeat. Since each repeat takes slightly more yarn, you will probably need at least 14 grams of yarn to finish the last repeat. That leaves 44 grams of yarn.

Whiney brain said, Oh man... that's not going to be enough. That's less than half of the total weight. It'll never work.... Woe, woe is me...

I put down the needles and logged in to Ravelry. I scanned countless projects, read lots and lots of notes from others who made the shawl, looked through the KAL (Knit-a-long) forum posts for this project. All of the yardage requirements were all over the place. I thought of ways to work around it, maybe work a few rows of garter stitch or stockinette or mesh lace to make up for the loss in length. How was I going to know it was going to be ok?

Finally, before I went to bed last night, I picked up the pattern again and read through the notes. It said:
After four repeats you will have 12 stems on each half of your shawl.
The first section of the shawl is made of leaf-like patterns, with "stems" down the centre of each. I counted the stems on each side of my shawl. There were 12 on each side.

I had already finished four repeats. Not three. Four. I didn't need to worry myself through another whole repeat. I'm an idiot.

Ok, well maybe not an idiot. I just hate running out of yarn, especially in lace knitting, where ripping back to start again is like scooping your eyeballs out with a rusty spoon.

So anyway, I got up this morning and started working on the second chart, extremely confident that I will finish this thing without running out of yarn. Except...

Whiney brain: Man, now you're going to have too much yarn...

Ah well.

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