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 :)
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.