Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Traveling Woman Shawl(ette)

My friend Pat asked me to look over the Traveling Woman Shawl  (Ravelry link) pattern because she was having a hard time following the chart, though she freely admitted that she had a hard time with charts in general.

I said I'd download the pattern and check it out (it's a free download) for her, and we'd get together on Friday, before our knitting group meets, to see if we could figure out what the problem was.

I saw immediately what her problem was- though almost 5,000 Ravelers have this project in their queue, and 183 pages worth of them have posted pictures and comments, and though I didn't read them all, I could see that very few had any trouble with the instructions whatsoever- I thought the instructions and charts were a little hard to follow too.

I'll grant you that I'm no lace expert, but every lace pattern I've knitted (or designed) with a chart, has ALL of the stitches for each repeat right there, on the chart. For this pattern, every row begins and ends with K2 and a YO, but those 3 sts are not on any of the charts, which confuses my brain mightily. When I follow a chart, I don't want to have to memorize additional stitches- I want them all on the chart in front of me.

Even more mystifying, Row 2 on both the A and B charts are basically *not there* except for the center stitch, even though every other row is represented fully. I cannot for the life of me figure out why that row wasn't drawn and charted like every other row.

Now, these are very small criticisms, and experienced lace knitters will have no problem whatsoever following the instructions or charts, but I can see why Pat was having trouble. The pattern itself is lovely, and the lace is easy (it's a variation of the Horseshoe Lace pattern, which is funny all by itself, given how obsessed I've been with that repeat for the last month), and the shawl is easily enlarged from a small neck-decoration to a full-sized shawl. I do recommend the pattern, as long as you can remember to add those uncharted 3 sts on every row, and you can just work Row 2 without further instructions.
It's a very quick knit- I started it mostly because I thought that would be an easier way to help Pat, but I've really enjoyed working on the shawl. I am on the final chart now (the openwork border), and may actually finish the knitting tonight (I decided to make the small version, even though I have plenty of yarn).

The repeat is gorgeous, and the yarn is even gorgeouser. It's from Twisted Fiber Arts, one of the yarns from the Luxury Yarn Club from a year ago or so. The yarn is Fluffy (90% kid mohair, 10% nylon), 450 yards, 120 grams, the dye pattern is Subtle (softly mottled), and the colorway is Vixen. Like all Twisted yarns, this is amazing stuff- incredibly soft and fluffy (just like the name), and the colors (red, orange, gold) are fantastic. This sort of brushed mohair isn't perfectly suited to lace knitting, but it's coming out really well (you don't want to have to rip this out, but so far, I've not made many mistakes) and it's going to be totally gorgeous.

And I'll have more than enough yarn when I'm done to knit a scarf (or maybe a really fuzzy doll sweater...)

Side note: this yarn and colorway do not appear to be available at the moment from Twisted, but that doesn't mean that it won't show up on the roster again sometime


Karen said...

Beautiful! Oddly, I'd downloaded that pattern over the weekend, so the heads-up is timely for me.

And that yarn is making me want to break out some of my stashed Kidsilk's not Twisted, but something about that fluff is calling to me.

maxine said...

I am now inspired to block my second Traveling Woman tonight. I knit the first one out of Colinette Jitterbug and it blocked out to a respectable enough size. My second one is in luscious Malabrigo silky merino. Yummy to knit. I did an extra repeat of the first chart on both of them, and oddly, had no trouble with this pattern. Now I am wondering if mine is jacked up and funky (Looks great regardless so we can call it a happy accident if something isn't right. The charm of the handknit...

Kathleen Taylor said...

Maxine- I'm certain there's nothing wrong with your shawl. I have a bit of a hard time with memorized additions, and I've been really fuzzy brained lately, so I'm sure that's where my problems came from. But they were really minor- it's a lovely pattern and I can't wait to see how mine comes out.