In which I set myself up for failure (or, a shawl to keep you distracted)

It’s been a while since my last post. You lovely people had such nice things to say about my ramblings there that I felt this personal pressure to excel the next time I wrote. I needed to have something relevant to say. I had nothing.
We can say I’ve been suffering from a sort of Posting Failure Anxiety Syndrome (if it’s not a thing, it should be.)

Since I don’t have brilliant words to share, I decided to just show you the spectacularity that is my new shawl.

I wish I could say this gorgeous thing was the result of careful planning, but it was just another one of those grabby hands moments, in which I saw beautiful yarn in a shop and couldn’t stay away from it. It had become part of my stash, and I had no idea what to make with it.

One day, as I was perusing Ravelry for something lace-y to make, I came across these few patterns I absolutely loved, which ended up being from the same author, Boo Knits. As I was choosing, Ravelry said I had stash I could use for this, and was thrilled it was my Malabrigo Sock Yarn in the Abril colourway. After careful consideration I decided on Fragile Heart because it had beads, which I’d never tried using before, and it looked hard enough to keep me entertained but not so hard that it would melt my brain. Hah. I do crack myself up sometimes.

Turns out I had a few mishaps: first, my gauge was a little too tight because I wasn’t using lace weight yarn, then I found out my beads were too small – so small, in fact, that I had to basically force them into the stitches by yelling and pushing. Not very ladylike.
Then I find out I made a mistake and had to do a lot of negative knitting. Then another mistake, and more negative knitting. Then, I also find out the stockinette in the beginning of the pattern doesn’t look too straight on the edges. Then I just decide I’m an idiot for knitting lace, and a bigger one for doing so whilst tired.

The final straw happened when I decided to go look for larger beads. I found some I absolutely loved and immediately proceeded to add them to my less-than-satisfactory project, only to realise the small ones looked absolutely ridiculous near the larger ones. After banging my head against a wall a few times, I decided frogging it was the only solution. Look, two weeks of knitting out the window!

Once I decided to just pay attention, not allow for any distractions when I was reading the pattern (my cats disagreed with this one and often told me so by sitting on the paper and staring down at me) and counting my stitches like an obsessive person, all went (mostly) well. I had almost no negative knitting, but progress was slow.
In the end, it was very much the right decision to make. The larger needle sizes, the new beads and an all-over lace body made everything look consistent and I know I’ll be proud to wear it in public.

My patience was tested one last time when I ordered lace wires to block this thing out, they took forever to arrive, and when they finally did I found out my shawl was a little too much on the long side and not even the floor would be enough to pin it down (the chair on the right has a foot on the yarn because this wouldn’t fit otherwise).


What a difference blocking does to lace. It doubled in size and the edges look absolutely sharp and beautiful. Credit is all due to the author of this pattern, because I can hardly believe I made this myself.

Lessons and new techniques learned:

  • Garter stitch tab;
  • Beading (without a crochet hook – I used a piece of flexible wire);
  • Picot bind-off;
  • Blocking lace;
  • Never to knit lace when you’re tired because you will make a mistake;
  • To always knit a full row because there will be dropped stitches and therefore more negative knitting;
  • Cats are evil and will try to impede your progress – sometimes you’ll allow them to do so because they’re just too adorable (but still evil), and sometimes you’ll just beg and cajole until they leave you in peace…

27 responses to “In which I set myself up for failure (or, a shawl to keep you distracted)

    • Thanks! I’m really happy I persevered, and also happy I frogged the whole thing when I did. I learned a lot and now I can wear this shawl and be proud of it 😊

  1. So, so, so lovely. I found it on Ravelry by your link so I am going to consider it – I love knitting with beads. However, I am also an idiot at knitting lace. And one mistake changes the whole pattern! UGH! But yours is so gorgeous, I might be persuaded. :^)

    • Thanks, Linda! The best advise I’d give you is to use stitch markers, so you’ll know immediately if you made a mistake, and to count your stitches between the markers after each row. Oh, and life lines are your best friends!
      I really do recommend this pattern, it’s beautiful and so rewarding! Go for it 😉

  2. Absolutely stunning! Knitting a lace shawl is on my ever-growing list of things to knit, just hoping I have the patience for it.

    • Thank you! I’ll admit lace is not something I’d knit every day, but the end results are so nice, it’s definitely worth the trouble. Good luck on your knitting journey 😊

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  4. You’re an absolute rock star!!! This is gorgeous! I have a whole new appreciation for lacey shawls now that I’ve tried my hand at it and ended up having to take a break to preserve my sanity.

    • Hah, I give full credit to Boo Knits, the author of the pattern! It’s so gorgeous I just had to keep going, but yes, it also nearly cost me my sanity… “Use life lines” is now my new mantra for lace 😀

      • I bet – I didn’t know what life lines were until last week but I am so trying them out when I get back to the shawl!

        The socks I’m making are a free pattern, that in my opinion is really well written. I’m a big newbie (especially at reading patterns) and even I could do it. I highly recommend it as a good place to start 🙂

  5. Such an amazing shawl! I am in awe – yes, of your knitting skills and patience (good pattern too 😉 ) I’ve always longed to knit a shawl like this…..perhaps one day!

    • Thank you, Katherine! This pattern was just so beautiful, and I am stubborn, so I had to get it finished, even if it killed me 😀 Please do knit one, it’s really not that hard, I promise! Life lines, and keep the cat away, and you should be fine 😉

  6. Pingback: Writing and knitting mojo are back, and preparing to get hitched | Felt Buddies (and stuff)·

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