I’m working on the final copy-edit of the new book (only one more step after this, page proofs, and then it’s done – finally, gloriously done) and so I only have a few minutes to spend with you today. (You understand of course that this isn’t the way I’d choose it to be. If I were in charge, we’d just knit and talk about it all day.)
I was wondering just how I was going to spend those moments with you. I mean, the blanket proceeds apace, chugging along at a rather glacial pace – and I was thinking that it’s going really slowly. Really slowly, for anyone, not just me, and as I finished the row I was on, I realized at least part of the problem, and knew that finally, there was something to say about this blanket. Something pathetic, something that makes me wonder if I need to start taking some kind of vitamin, but something, nonetheless.
The centre of this blanket is almost the "Smocked Lace" from Barbara Walker’s third treasury . (I love this book. It’s awesome, and the tidy hand drawn charts remind me how amazingly recent the revelation of charts are at all. I mean, this book is originally from 1978 – although this is the Schoolhouse Press version, reprinted in 1998) and contains the statement "Written out directions, rather than charts have been the rule in the United States however; and it is possible that we Americans have missed out on a good thing." Ms Walker goes on to explain the many advantages of this snazzy new system. I knew perfectly well that charts were very new to North America – every pattern I had, even just twenty years ago was written out – even the most challenging lace, but somehow I had totally forgotten.) In any case, it’s almost that lace, because I changed it a little bit, making almost all the wrong side rows simply purled. The original had some slipped stitches in there, but when I started the chart I was working from memory, and forgot to put them in, and it turns out I like it that way. It also turns out that because I didn’t bother to check the stitch key, I used a totally different decrease, and I like that too. (We will pause here to reflect upon how many stitch patterns have been created exactly this way – by screwing something up.)
I say "almost" all the wrong side rows, because this lace has two wrong side rows in the entire twelve row repeat that have something going on. They’re rows where everything is just purled, but there’s also a "smocking stitch", wrapped stitches that make it all pull in really fetchingly, and this is exactly the part of this stitch that I adore. You can tell, I suppose, because it’s the only part I’m faithfully reproducing, except… I’m not.
Every single time one of these two rows has come up, I have cruised across the row, purling it plain like all the others. At the end of the row I realize what I have done, and have to tink back all 195 stitches, and re-work the row.
Let me be perfectly clear. I have not done this a few times. I have not done this most of the times. I have done this Every. Single. Time. I have not got it right on any row at all. Furthermore, I have not even once remembered this or caught this mistake (despite vows, notes and promises to myself) part of the way through any row. Wrong all the way across. Wrong every time. It’s like I’ve somehow come to think that the instructions for this pattern actually include ripping out every sixth row while shrieking obscenities. I believe I may be scaring the cat.
I just thought you’d want to know. This blanket might be moving slowly, but it’s got 1/6th more knitting in it than you think it does.