Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mathematix Shawl, story and notes

For my regular readers who probably haven't noticed yet, I have an announcement--I'm published! I'm very pleased that a pattern I wrote was accepted for publication in Knitty. It is a shawl pattern that I developed after my trip to Cambridge this past spring. Below is a photo I took of it last Memorial Day weekend.

I'm so grateful to Emily for being such an excellent model. I had to provide photos for my submission to Knitty and was lucky to find someone to model in the short time frame. I had been trying to knit a shawl from this yarn for a while. I knit a smaller shawl with it in December, but ripped it out. It didn't show off the yarn very well and was really too small to wear. The yarn deserved a better effort. After I came back from Cambridge, I started swatching.

Once I'd put those two patterns together, I was off and knitting. I thought if I finished knitting it before Memorial Day, I would be able to get some photos of it on a trip we had planned for the weekend. Since writing the pattern was taking up some of my knitting time, I was never sure that I would meet both deadlines--shawl finished and blocked by the holiday and pattern submitted by June 1. Now that it is all done and published, my concern is that anyone who has questions or problems has a place to look for answers. I am truly concerned. This is not a simple pattern.

That's why I'm posting this entry to my blog. I plan to add to it as needed to address any questions, make suggestions, or provide any other information about the pattern.

Unfortunately, there were errors in the original Knitty pattern. Corrections were posted November 12, 2011. As a matter of housekeeping, the errata was:

Under DIRECTIONS, Section 1, there should be a row 4 following row 3. It should read:

Row 4: [WS] Purl.

Under Section 2, omit the second sentence regarding starting the first repeat on row 3 of the chart. Start with row 1.

The Left Side charts are wrong. Until I can develop a correct set of charts, the shawl can be knit by working from the Right Side charts, simply reversing them for the second half. To do this, follow the Slip Stitch Pattern -- Right Side chart from right to left, work the center stitch in stockinette, then follow the same row of the chart from left to right.

The wrong side rows of the main color stripe in the border are purled. I mistakenly specified the fourth one, row 8 in the pattern, to be knit. Although this was simply a mistake I made in indicating the wrong row numbers in the "repeat row.." language, I am now a little curious as to how it would look if all the wrong side rows in the border were knit instead of purled. It would be something to try if you like garter stitch.

Also, when starting the border pattern, I began with row 3, letting the cast on stitches count as the first two rows. I'm less sure I like this now that I'm looking at it again. It works, making the colors in the border line up with the shawl colors. However, if you are inclined to finesse a pattern, you might look at handling it differently. My way, the first stripe of CC in the border is missing one row. It is possible to work the beginning and ending stripes of the border with 5 rows, although you would have to cast on an additional stitch.

Other questions have arisen that I consider design issues. For these questions , there is not necessarily one correct approach. In these areas the shawl can be knit according to the preferences of the knitter.

The first question has to do with the number of stitches on the needles at the start of the slip stitch pattern. There's not enough stitches to complete the two repeats on either side of the center stitch. As I knit it, the center two repeats are 1 stitch short. That didn't bother me because I knew I was adding a stitch on either side of the center stitch. The repeat would be complete on the next right side row. I was much more concerned that the blue decreases in the first section flow into the blue slipped stitches of the slip stitch portion.

Even though being 1 stitch short didn't stop me, I'm afraid that it might look strange to another knitter. The unusual stitch count might seem to be an error. It is not. The pattern does provide for the shorter repeats, since they are included in the charts. To further reinforce this, I'm providing below the language I used when I drafted the pattern, before the charts covered the center repeats:

With MC, begin slip st pattern [Chart B], aligning pattern so that MC sts slipped on previous rows are knit on the first row of Chart B. The repeat before the center st will be 1 st short. Following this repeat, the center pattern is: yo, k1, yo [k4 sl2], resuming row 1 of the slip stitch pattern. Worked properly, the slipped sts will all be CC. All wrong side rows in Charts B and C are purled, slipping the stitches slipped on the previous row purlwise with yarn in front [wyif].

I have made my remark about the center repeat bold. Actually, the chart is a much better explanation, but I have included this earlier version here just in case it offers a little more clarity. Often I find that what I write as I am knitting a pattern makes the most sense. At least, it does reflect my thinking when I was the closest to it.

All that being said, I think it should be possible to add another stitch to each side of the shawl in the transition row and start with complete repeats. I would like to make that change when I knit the shawl again to see if it can be done easily without changing the flow of the pattern.

Another question was raised about the edge stitches in Section 2, the Slip Stitch Pattern section. As I added a stitch, I worked it in stockinette on the following row. I didn't include it in the pattern of slipped stitches until I had added several stitches at the edge. As a result, there are stripes of stockinette on the edges that are 1 to 3 stitches wide. At the center, the new stitches in stockinette meet with the new ones on the other side of the center stitch to form a different pattern. It does not matter how the new stitches are worked into the pattern, as long as the pattern meets properly at each repeat. The edges and center can be worked to suit the knitter.

The one suggestion I have is to make the point that the new repeats at the right edge and to the left of the center stitch are worked in from the left edge. You have to count backwards from the left edge of the 24 stitch repeat to determine how to knit the new stitches.

Here's another suggestion regarding the slip stitch section. The pattern pulls in a great deal. Even though I added some stitches and blocked it hard, that section is still proportionally smaller than the other two. The shawl fits well as a kerchief. If I were to knit this as a larger shawl, I'd try increasing on both the right side and the wrong side rows, at least on the ends, in the slip stitch section. That would make the tails longer. Of course, it would add a lot more stitches and a few more repeats, as well as expanding the edging and requiring more yarn.

Please let me know if you have any other questions regarding this pattern. I'll be happy to address them here as well as on Ravelry. For those who haven't seen it yet, the pattern link is: Mathematix. If you like it, please click on this Ravelry link, Mathematix Shawl, and give it a fave!

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