In my post the other day, I wrote that there would be 1600 rows in the edging, and Katie (who is surely a hopeful person, full of optimism) wrote and said “Surely that’s a typo.” Vickiebee even said “Maybe it’s 1600 stitches?”
No, my petals, not a typo, and not stitches – though maybe not as bad as you’re thinking. I am cleverly drawing pictures here, so as not to take detailed pictures of the blankie that would give it all away to Alex and Meg. (Plus it’s really scrunched up on a circular.) This is a pretty classic way of approaching this, if you’re thinking of Shetland Island shawls, which, like most normal people, I always am.
First, I cast on provisionally, and I knit the centre. (That’s a lie. First I knit a swatch, wash it, and block it. That tells me how many stitches to cast on, and how long to carry on for if I want it to be roughly square.)
When the centre is finished, I pick up stitches all the way around, and unpick the provisional cast-on, pick those up too, and now I’m equipped to work in the round. (Here, you will note, I make that sound like cake. It’s totally not – in the classic sense, this picking up business is pretty easy. The Shetland Shawls are garter base lace, and so the ratio for picking up is 1 stitch for each ridge. I threw that simplicity and ease on the fire and tossed on a litre of gasoline, by knitting the centre in stockinette based lace. To pick up all the way around I took my gauge, and did the math. The number of stitches widthwise (let’s say it’s 20 to 10cm.) divided by the number of rows per 10cm. (Let’s call that 25.) Then it’s just a matter of representing that as a fraction (stay with me, I know that’s a math word) putting stitches over rows. 20/25. Then I reduce that fraction (cast your mind back to middle school, you’ll be fine) and it’s 4/5. (See that?) That means I have to pick up 4 stitches for every 5 rows. In practice, that’s pick up 4, skip one, pick up 4, skip one…. You dig? Usually I practice this on the swatch, then do it on the blankie, marking the corners as I go.
Then I choose my stitch patterns (or invent them, in many cases) write them up as charts, centre them along the sides, and start knitting. I increase one stitch either side of the marked corner stitches ever other row – so I’m increasing by 8 stitches every other round.
This makes fetching mitred corners, and means the blankie gets bigger all the way around, every round. When it’s big enough (who really knows when that is) I choose or invent an edging (in this particular case, it’s a bit of both) and begin to apply the edging. I cast on (provisionally, again) however many stitches are in the edge (in this case, it will be about 20) and then start working back and forth making a long skinny edging. Every time I work a right side row, I knit the last stitch of the edge together with a stitch from the body of the blanket.
That means that every two rows, one stitch gets consumed. When I’m all done, the final row of the edging is grafted to the provisional cast on of the edging, and I’m done.
So, back to the point up at the top? 1600 rows? I was wrong. I’ve currently got 898 stitches on the needle (or will, when I’m done with this little garter band) and with 2 rows to consume each one? (Plus extras to get round the corners, but let’s not quibble.)
1796 rows to go, with an average of 20 stitches in each row, that’s 35 920 stitches left to knit.
And that, my brave friends, is not a typo. I counted. May the force be with me. The edging begins in 4 and a half rounds.