Sunday, September 03, 2006

go sit in a corner

Here is what the corner edging on the Hiawatha stole is supposed to look like, according to the picture in the pattern:

Hiawatha corner photo from pattern

Here is what I have so far. (Well, kind of. This is actually mid-ripping, after I decided to put the stitches back on the needle because ripping is too messy for this pattern. Must tink stitch by stitch.):

Hiawatha corner

It looks okay, but it's not. The problem is several ambiguities (and perhaps a mistake or two) in the pattern. The basic concept of doing the edging corner is that one needs to create extra fabric, so the edging can turn the corner without pulling in. The way it's done in this pattern is, well, partially simple and partially a mystery to me. For those of you who crochet, think of a granny square. When you're rounding the corner, you crochet extra clusters there. The corner construction is kind of similar to a granny square, in that what you're basically doing is knitting a bunch of pattern repeats in a small space, which are gathered together and attached in the corner.

The actual mechanics of doing this was a problem from the beginning. Part of this was solved during a phone call to Blackberry Ridge. I was greatly surprised to have anybody pick up the phone on a Sunday during a holiday weekend. I was sure I'd get an answering machine. The person I talked to made some mention of it being early, pre-coffee, and after the call I started to panic. I realized that it had only been about 9:30 here in New Hampshire, which meant it was only 8:30 in Wisconsin. What if they run the business out of their home, and I woke them up on a lazy Sunday morning, to deal with my knitting problems? I know this sounds a little far-fetched, but the vibe I got from the call, combined with the fact that anybody answered at all, got me really worried. The woman I spoke to was really nice, and now I feel like burying my face in shame. Every time I think about that possible faux pas I'm mortified. And that's enough of that for now...

I thought that after that phone call, I had all the information I needed, and was all set to go. For those of you curious, it had to do with a mysterious "straight edge" that was poorly defined, as well as an undefined number of stitches I was supposed to be picking up from said straight edge. It turns out that that part of the instructions don't apply to that first corner, for reasons having to do with stitch count. Would have been nice if something was said about that in the pattern, ya know? I spent at least a couple of hours feeling really stupid for not understanding something that turned out to just be poorly written, which does really bug me. If I'm going to feel stupid, I'd prefer it to be because I'm actually being stupid, not because I'm being misinformed by that which is supposed to be informing me. (rant rant rant paturns r haaaard blah blah blah)

It turns out I wasn't all set to go. I don't want to call Blackberry Ridge again, partially because I'm downright mortified by the possibility that I disturbed their morning sleep (or morning something else...), and partially because the woman who I talked to, while very nice and patient, didn't seem to be all that familiar with the pattern. I have heard that others have received good help with the pattern by calling, but she said that most people are confused by a section of the instructions which I found very straightforward - finishing a pattern "in the air" instead of attaching every other row to the shawl. (The snarky side of me wonders how folks who couldn't understand that part of the instructions, which are very clearly written, with no other possible interpretation, managed to figure out the obscurely written parts, including the important informational omission that I've already established. Maybe they just fudged it, like I might end up doing.) My problem is that, if one follows the rest of the instructions to the letter, they are left with too few pattern repeats in the corner. Depending on how you choose to interpret the instructions (the more it became clear that they weren't complete, the wilder my interpretations got), you may be left with an unattached repeat and no way to attach it, or a corner repeat that lives distinctly on the long edge of the shawl instead of in the corner. It's actually more complicated than that, but I really don't have the energy to go into all the details here. It would also involve typing out more of the instructions than I feel comfortable doing because of copyright reasons. (I deleted an immensely long post in which I tried doing that. Too much information, and too many complications, for being discussed in the form of a one-way blog post.)

Instead of giving a blow by blow rant about the specifics of the problems with the remainder of the corner instructions, I'm putting out a plea for help. I do wonder if part of the problem is that this is one of a few standard ways of doing corners on edging, and that the pattern author didn't write out all of the specifics (or, um, have the thing test knit or proof read) because it's supposed to be common knowledge. If that's the case, then anybody who has done something like this before on a different lace pattern may be able to give me more insight into what's happening. Even if not, I know that other folks out there have knit Hiawatha. Maybe they have answers. Unfortunately, this is one of those problems for which the solution is not just "don't worry, do exactly what the pattern says without question, and it will turn out okay". It's physically impossible to just do what the pattern says, otherwise I would have tried that.

My solution, if I can't get outside help, is going to be to alter what's written to work for me. This means including an extra repeat in the corner, and adjusting a few other things so I can properly attach that extra repeat to the corner of the shawl. I'm a bit worried about whether things will lie flat, which is the main reason I'm not just jumping in and trying it out. I've already frogged the corner at least 5 times, and would really like some more information before I try yet another permutation of possible interpretations of the instructions.

So... help? Please contact me if you have managed to figure out what my problem is, if you've knit the shawl before and have specific blow-by-blow information to share, or if you know of a good source for detailed instructions on knitting (or designing!) shawl edging corners.

I should really pick up something different to work on. Unfortunately, at the moment I feel that anything my hands touch will turn to manure. The grey, rainy weather is certainly not helping my mood. ... Happy Labor Day! (I'd wish my Canadian (and other non-American English speaking) friends a happy Labour Day, but I don't think they celebrate it up there. Still, consider yourselves u-ified. It's the thought that counts, right?)


Blogger LaurieM said...

I hear you on feeling bad about the early morning phone call, but you need to remember it takes two people to talk on the phone. She could have let the machine pick up, or told you to please call back later. So go easy on yourself.

Sorry I can't help you with this pattern, but comparing your work to the close up, I'd say you are on the right track. There's some serious smooshing going on in the close up shot.

It does look like your first leaf shape could be further back on the top edge though. Then the center leaf could be all in the corner and the third leaf could be on the side edge.

This is strictly an guess. I'd go with your own instincts on this one. Good luck!

9/03/2006 9:45 PM  
Blogger gray la gran said...

look! this knitter turned the corner ...

and here's a finished one ...

maybe you can email these ladies for consultation? good luck! it's going to be really pretty when it's finished :)

9/04/2006 8:52 AM  
Blogger laura said...

sorry I can't help with the edging problem but - it is indeed Labour Day up here, complete with parade and everything.

9/04/2006 12:48 PM  

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