Row 3 in the Swallowtail Shawl

There's something strange going on everytime I work Row 3 of the Swallowtail Shawl. I even checked the Interweave Knits website, googled Swallowtail Shawl errata, Swallowtail Shawl correction, and nada. It must be me.

Row 1 goes smoothly. Except for the part right before the center stitch, when I forget that I'm supposed to knit a stitch after the slipslipknit and before the two stitches and the yarnover that ends the first part of the row. Finally caught that one after six or so repeats. Row 2: smooth sailing. Two knit stitches, purl all the way across, two more knit stitches. Ahh.

Then the evil third row. Right about then, I'm thinking, I've got this licked. I'm a knitter. I'm a knitter of lace! I will finish the shawls for my staff sometime before 2009. I start to daydream, and then about midway through the first half of the row, I realize that I've done Something Wrong. (I'm not the only one either!) And I try to study my stitches, as taught by my teacher, who is a master knitter of lace (unfortunately, all I can remember from her explanation of the difference between lace knitting and knitting lace is that there is a difference) and rightly instructed the class to learn to "read" your stitches. The idea being that, as you work each row, you're inspecting your work on the previous row, catching those pesky mistakes before you find yourself as lost as, well, I'm not sure what, but something politically acceptable.

But here I am again. Something is amiss. Unfortunately, I'm not yet a good enough knitter to do much beside rip back until I find the mistake. Therein lies another challenge. This is very sticky yarn. Beautiful, yes, and soft, and silky. A wonderful shade of brown, with undertones of pink and cream. But built in such a way that it grabs on to neighboring threads. You can see the halo of tiny, velcro-like threads in this picture.

Not since I tried to knit a mohair sweater has a yarn been so unrippable. That was early in my knitting efforts. A great, simple pattern; a peacock blue shade of yarn. I didn't know that beginners should not go anywhere near mohair. Imagine trying to pry apart the jaws of an alligator. And I'm not being overly dramatic. Somewhere along the way, I threw the whole project in the garbage can. I didn't know from having a stash at that point, and I just wanted it gone.

One thing I have learned from this yarn: the Bryspun needle is much, much better than bamboo circulars. Someone at my FYS suggested it when I asked for something with a more flexible wire than the stiff plastic on the bamboo circulars, but with a needle that would grip the yarn more than a metal tip. Great tools are everything. This has a smooth join, a just flexible enough cord, has a surface that's a little resistant and a little bit slippery, and warms in your hand as you work with it.

I plan to persevere with Swallowtail. I promise not to knit Row 3 while watching "Survivor," nor after driving home in a rainstorm and killing time at Trader Joe's while waiting for my take-out from the local Thai restaurant to be ready. Time to put the knitting away for the night, drink some tea, and read. Here's my solace for my Row 3 debacle.


FairyGodKnitter said…
I had the same problem at row 3 and had to request silence in the room during each repeat. I have since tried and failed at a shawl that had pattern on every row, not just the purling back. I couldn't get that much quiet out of my family.
Persevere, maybe put in a lifeline to make any ripping back smoother. I of course never do that and then find a mistake rows back, try to make myself live with, find that I can't and then try to just fix those stitches and end up ripping anyway. At least there is no lace knitting for me until I get my hand back.
I do envy you and those Bryspuns. No one seems to sell them around here and I have one set of 2.5mm sock needles and a couple of old straight sets that I never use because I'm totally circular these days. I do have some vintage (that's what they're called on Ebay) vinyl needles but they are too grabby for lace so I mostly stick to Inox's. I must go see if I can find some Bryspun circulars online and of course will end up blowing next months yarn budget.