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The shawl, she grows.

I've made it past Chart 1, and am in the second repeat of Chart 2 (out of seven total). I'm on row 89 or so, which means 18% of the body is complete, according to the spreadsheet provided by one of the lovely ladies over at the Yahoo! Frost Flowers & Leaves Group.

The problem? There are five and a half more repeats to do. I should have looked at the pattern a bit more closely before I began this project - the finished shawl is beautiful, sure, but everything past the center 50 rows or so is the same small easily-memorized frost flowers motif over and over. It is a very pretty lace stitch, but it's getting sort of boring to knit already.

Chart 3, the inner border, won't provide much relief - it's just the net columns from that motif over and over (and over again).

This will still be a challenge to finish on time just because of the volume of knitting there is to do, but it's not especially interesting to make. My new challenge? Finish this for the Olympics, and knit this wonderfully beautiful sampler stole from the same book:

by the end of February. That's what I like in lace - a little variety.

Thank you for all the suggestions on needles! I'm clearly asking the right people. I think I'm going to try to get my hands on both a Crystal Palace set and an Inox Grey set, and try them both out. I prefer wooden needles for the grab factor, but agree that breakage and splintering can be a big issue - are the Inox a powder-coated metal needle, or a slick polished type?

Some Technical Stuff:

Mary asked: Technical question: How do YOU join non-wool yarn (especially on lace)?

If I think it won't matter too much to have a double-thickness of yarn, I'll just knit seven or eight stitches with both strands and clip closely after blocking or do a Russian join. If I think it WILL matter, I'll take the time to do a little thing where I tease out and break off half the thickness of the yarn about three inches in on both ends, twist very tightly, fold the yarns around each other as in a Russian join, and let the ends twist back on themselves. It's difficult to describe in words - when I come to the end of the first ball of this shawl (pretty soon, I'm thinking), I'll show it as best as the supermacro setting will let me.

Meg asked for more details on my lace shortcuts - I'll be happy to show them once I get the right needles :)

And Kenny: It's Frost Flowers and Leaves, by Eugen Beugler for Meg Swansen's collection A Gathering Of Lace. Veddy veddy pretty.

I learned to knit continental, and have never really done anything else, except for two-handed colored knitting. Your last question really made me think - I guess I knit at a pretty good speed, but I also knit a LOT, like, 3 or so hours a day when you add up all the spare moments I snatch to work a row or two. I really think the single biggest factor in speed, whether in colorwork or lace or cables, is understanding exactly what you're doing with every stitch - making it a point to understand the way the motifs build on each other and the basic rhythm behind the pattern as a whole. For a simple example, this shawl grows in a very specific way, and each repeat of the motif has a certain relationship to the motifs above and below it. Once you have those relationships firmly in mind, and are able to read your knitting at a glance, you can knit almost anything on autopilot. Most colorwork (excluding large pictorial patterns like you see in the Dales) can be handled similarly - there's a certain rhythm to every row - and cable charts are generally very predictable. As soon as you free yourself from looking at the chart every few stitches and get rid of markers separating pattern repeats (I understand beginners doing it, but it kills the flow of the work and reduces the wonderful cleverness and elegance and economy of the best lace patterns, which should be appreciated and enjoyed, to nothing but an exercise in chart-following), you can make very quick progress. You can also put the knitting down and pick it back up without spending ten minutes looking for your place in the chart - and you can knit intricate stuff while talking or watching tv or whatever. It only takes a little extra work in paying attention to the pattern for the first few rows to make it happen - and it pays off, big time. Understanding why a YO belongs there, and what it sets up for ten rows up, and where this decrease meets with it, and what part of the petal or leaf or wave or whatever that forms, makes knitting faster, yes, but also a lot more interesting, which makes you knit more, which makes progress happen before you know it.


AMEN to that last paragraph! I don't consider myself particularly fast, and I don't have the chance to knit three hours a day (except on the weekends), yet somehow I manage to get a lot knit and I never processed why. The reason is exactly what you describe - letting go of markers, not being afraid to stop halfway through a row, forgetting row counters and post-its if they really aren't necessary, learning how to tell when something isn't right instantly (a must for patterns with some or many mistakes, ahem), seeing the big picture, etc. From now on, when I get asked how I knit so quickly, I'm SO responding with a link to this entry!

I also knit continental, and don't use markers. And I agree with the last paragraph, but I think you probably also knit very quickly. Have you ever timed yourself? I usually keep track of how long it takes me to knit projects (because I've often had to price finished items and I want to be able to do so based on hours of labor), and I've found I average about 19 stitches per minute in stockinette.

If I had to guess, I'd say it would take me about 120 hours to knit Frost Flowers. I'll let you know how long it ends up taking me, because after seeing your square I cast on for it last night! ;o)

I agree -- I haven't done complicated lace at all, but with colorwork and cables, it's kind of defocusing and focusing, understanding the overall pattern and also the specific micropattern you're on. For me it was a huge breakthrough in speed on the DNA scarf when I understood the logic of the cable rhythm. I occasionally make a mistake now if I lose track, but it's still much less effort than pulling out a chart every dang right-side row. I think it also has to do with being sensitive to the "negative spaces" -- the background of colorwork, the purl sections of cables, etc, and following their rhythm as well.

OH MY GOSH, EUNNY!! Do you sleep? Eat? You are knitting that soooo fast!! I can't even imagine that knitting that far in one (ish) days is humanly possible!! I wish I could knit that fast... my UFO's would be done by now.

Uh!! I'm soo jealous. How long does it take to knit that fast? I knit all the time, but feel that I am only a moderate speed knitter.

I loved reading your observations on what I call (and so do many others)knitting flow. I think some knitters never allow themselves to get into a flow with cable, lace, or color knitting since they learn certain techniques as beginners that they never allow themselves to let go of once they become more experienced. Some of these techniques are like training wheels. They are definitely necessary at first, but a knitter must make that scary move and let go of them at some point to really enjoy the ride! As you point out, most of the fun of knitting complicated items comes in getting into the flow and then one can really knit these more "complicated" items anywhere.

Being able to "read" your knitting is also one the most important things I have learned to do. People often ask me if I have memorized a complicated Aran pattern. I have to explain that you don't need to memorize it, you just need to be able to read the knitting already on the needle and in order to do that, you must see the logic behind it, as you pointed out so eloquently.

Knit in red, it sort of stops being frost flowers, don't you think? It could be "fire flowers" instead.

You're wonderful. Thanks for the last paragraph. I'm going to try it (maybe in baby steps) and see if I can make it work for me. The shawl is gorgeous and the yarn alone should keep you entertained.

I agree about lace getting boring. That's the main reason I haven't been tempted by that pattern, but I love Gene, the designer. Not sure where you live, but he will be at Stitches West this weekend. I'm going to tell him all about your Olympic odyssey!

Personally, I like to knit round lace patterns because they generally don't use repeating stitch patterns. I love the constant change.

Oh, and if you get Inox circulars, I have heard that the tips can vary a lot from package to package, so it helps buy them from somehwere you can see them.

OMG people, don't let her fool you, she knits SO fast! That time we went for lunch and coffee... I was puttering along, grumbling at my work, and her hands just flew!

Just say no to crystal palace needles. They seem nice at first but the hinge they use on the cord squeaks and it will drive you insane...just so you know.

Kat has a great suggestion re. "fire flowers." I also agree with your last paragraph--understanding where a pattern is going not only allows faster knitting, it's simply fascinating. Clarification, please: does that joining technique work for you on slippery yarns like some all-cottons?

Modest though you may be, you are one fast knitter!!! I am amazed at how quickly you're progressing on the shawl. When I got to the last repeat, it was taking me 30-45 minutes to do just one row. The rate you're going, I'm thinking it might only take you about 10! Looks really gorgeous in the red. And yes, it did get a big boring, but the end result is so worth it. Start a KAL for the Sampler Stole, and maybe you'll inspire me to drag my yarn out and cast on for it!

I need to trust my reading skills more. I knit combination and sail along, as people tell me, and I also pick up my knitting throughout the day, getting a few minutes in here and there. It really does add up. Your progress is inspiring. I consider myself a novice lace knitter, and I've tabled that pattern until I got some experience, but if it is as you say, perhaps I am ready.

The color and yarn show off the pattern to perfection. You do beautiful lace work!

Thank you, Eunny. Can't wait to see the close-ups of your join. :)

I see what you mean by reading the pattern. For my FFL, I am knitting continental, without markers (except the beginning) and can pick up whenever with minimal effort. In fact, the 3rd and 4th repeats were knit with just a few glances at the pattern, while watching TV. I was surprised at this, but you explain it well in the last paragraph of your post. The "boredom" maybe why FFL is on hold while I knit the Shetland Tea Shawl and Kiri Shawl for the KO.

The Sampler Stole looks like a stimulating knit. Can't wait to see it.

I like Inox circs for lace knitting, although I am using Addis for FFL.

Happy knitting!

Love how the shawl is working up. Guess you're going to have to get some good movies to tide you through the boring parts!

The shawl looks absolutely lovely! I've also discovered that the project I've chosen isn't going to take me nearly as long as I thought, so I've decided to take on another! I don't think that would be allowed in Torino...but that's why I'm glad I'm a knitter!

Thank you for endorsing the pushing of knitterly boundaries, for taking chances and for the removal of training wheels, so to speak. You're an up-and-coming influence here in the blogverse -- wield your power mercifully!

WOW!! I'm amazed how speedy you are progressing...Can't wait till you block your shawl to see the beautiful magic of lace! I love the sampler stole too! GO EUNNY GO!!

Happy Knitting!

Eunny, you are amazing! Thank you for your insights and thoughtful knitting. Heaven forbid we knit without perspective, history, and thought! I look forward to your speedy lace tips!

It's looking great! I made the Sampler Shawl a couple of months ago--very rewarding and interesting knit.

That shawl looks absolutely amazing! Lots of things on the to do list and I'm only starting my first lace project, but I am inspired. And as others have said, that color has shown the pattern off really well. I hope that when you are allowed to, you post the info for the dyer and even exactly what color you have. That color is amazing.

Hey, Eunny - I told you I'd send you the link for that toe-up sock class - this is the shop: http://www.crazyforewe.com/


The INOX are the grey coated ones. The INOX express are the shiny Addi clones.
The grey ones are a bit grabby but not as much as bamboo or wood. It is the join that may be the problem. Some people hate them. I use them for socks as they are the only ones in 2.25mm that are easy to find
Shawl is looking great


I've been lurking for a while, but the wonder of the Olympics has brought me out of hiding. Also the wonder of your skill and speed. You amaze me.

Your shawl is exquisite! Really, REALLY beautiful already. I need to try some lace (after the Olympics, of course). Do you take requests? I'd love a primer for the lace knitting novice. Any words of advice/caution you can offer? Thanks!

You are crazy. In a good way! I love the little graphic of your progress. Both the shawl and stole will be wondrous.

I am falling behind on my Olympic knitting for the exact reason you mention above: It's a large motif that I can't possibly read as I look back at what I've knit. I'd kill for a 20 st. repeat right now.

You are inspiring me to knit lace! I love your observations on just knowing and feeling how the pattern should work.

Until now I have steered away from lace because the process seems just too intimidating, but now I am itching to cast on. So I ask you, is there a particular pattern you would suggest for the beginning lace knitter? Also what about the yarn...would you suggest lace weight or something a bit heavier for a first project?

I am a day or so away from finishing my current project. Casting on a lace project will be a birthday present to myself!

You have got further than I have in three months - I think it is the same problem as you though. I got through chart 1 which I thought was good fun, did chart 2 the first time and then though oh dear I've got to do this another X number of times. Other projects seem to keep popping up to keep me from it. I obviously need to either knuckle down and get on with it or frog it and use the yarn for something more interesting

Ah, so continental is the secret to your speed! I knit the english way, and I knit A LOT (probably 3-4 hours a day during the week, MUCH more on the weekends) as well, but I don't seem to finish things as quickly as you do. I did try to learn continental, but I just don't like it. I find the "throwing" of the yarn part of the english method very relaxing. To each his own, right?

I used to be really reliant on markers separating repeats and my piece of paper and pencil so I could mark down what row I was on, but I'm finding I can get away from those crutches now and learn how to read my knitting better. I don't have to be at the end of a row anymore when I put something down. I'm still quite anal at some things, but I'm learning how to unclench, as one of my local knitting friends says.

Hi, newbie commenter here. I would recommend the Inox more highly than the Crystal Palace circs. I love CP DPN's, but I really dislike the join on their circ's. I have found that the Inox have a pretty good join (it's not Addi, but what is?). They are inexpensive and come in both the coated and uncoated versions. And they are quite pointy. I love 'em. Hope you find what you like.

You do seem to have an intuitive understanding of the way a certain stitch behaves, but I bet you'd still knit pretty fast in a timed trial.
That shawl is gorgeous.

Oh so beautful. I have one UFO in my closet-a fibertrends shawl, sigh. seeing all your lace is so inspiring. I love the color you chose!

Thanks for your comments to my question. I'm just trying to figure out why I knit so slow.... and alot of it seems that I throw the yarn with my right hand. I just don't know how to do continental with good tension. I guess practice.

i'm a newbie lace-knitter making the Kiri shawl. removed my obssessive stitch marking--much happier. thanks.

Don't count your chickens before they are hatched... James

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