This has been rather a busy week, and in terms of knitting and crocheting, I am WAY behind. But let's ignore that little tidbit for the time being. Last Sunday hearkened the start of the annual Downton Abbey mystery knit- and crochet-along and like the Type A Eager Beaver that I am, I downloaded the first clue right away and started knitting.
*spoiler alert! If you're doing the MKAL or MCAL and don't want to see progress photos, skip this post :)*
So, the way that this works is that each Sunday morning, a clue comes out with a portion of the pattern. We do know that the finished items will be shawls, but not how the designs will look. This continues throughout the season of Downton Abbey, with the final clue being released for the finale.
I decided to start with the knit shawl and leave the crochet clue for later in the week. I excitedly get my wound yarn and needles and look at the pattern: it calls for a heretofore unknown to me cast on method devised by some woman named Emily Ocker. It's a method of casting on in the round using a small amount of stitches, whereby you create a ring that can be pulled together later, creating a nice, small, non-gappy circle. That all sounds super efficient and lovely, right?
Well. :) Casting onto double pointed needles with just a few stitches on each needle creates...let's just say A NEAR OCCASION OF SIN. The needles are flopping every which way, stitches are sliding off of needles such that I have to start over, all the way back to the ring, I can't discern which needle even comes next in the circle and if it's facing the right direction...I have to re-start the thing multiple times, and by the third or fourth try, I'm pretty punchy. I'm thinking very uncharitable thoughts about this nefarious Emily Ocker, who has so obviously created a device of torture for knitters. Over on the Ravelry discussion board for the knit-along, people are dramatically declaring that they have given up and are electronically flouncing off. I'm far too stubborn to give up, but I'm certainly not happy about it.
I finally manage to get through the first few rounds by holding the needles taut in place using an octopus-like hand configuration and then things get a tad steadier. I knit and increase for about 10 rounds, cautiously optimistic about my future shawl. Then I pull on the yarn tail, which allegedly will close up my ring, and give me a beautiful center to the lace motif. Nothing happens.
Let's just say that that wasn't a good moment and leave it at that. Mike had to gently intervene, coaxing me to put the knitting down and not rip it from the needles. Then I pretended to be totally calm and over it, before sneaking off with my phone to frantically text my friend Stacy, who is also participating in the knit-along. She texted me off the ledge, convincing me to leave it on the needles for her to look at in the morning.
Over lunch the next day, Stacy and I figured out a way to pull up a different loop from the original ring and pull it *mostly* taut. It wasn't the way it was supposed to work, I had clearly done something wrong all the way back at the
|At least it's done|
Around mid-week, I started in on the crochet clue. This one generally went better, although I will say that this is not a beginner-level pattern. It's definitely intermediate, and the directions were difficult to follow. The message boards had lots of back-and-forth with the designer to decipher the pattern language, and there was even an update provided to the pattern to clarify things better. I was rather glad that the dust had settled somewhat before I picked this one up. I also switched my yarn choice from a solid teal color to a variegated autumn colorway, and I really love the result:
|One can never have too many autumn hues in their wardrobe...|
I've started in on clue 2 for the knit version, and it's going well, albeit slowly because I have little time to work on it this week. I will post updates as the shawls progress!
How about you, dear reader? Are you working on either of these shawls? Write in and let me know how it's going. :)