In which a near tragedy is averted.
Have I mentioned that this shawl is stretching me in all kinds of interesting ways? It's faroese, which I've never knitted before. And it's actual lace knitting, which I haven't done in any large-scale way before. Oddly, the thing that really got me the first couple of rows of wrong-side lace knitting was remembering to read the chart from left to right. I guess I've gotten used to only ever having to look at the RS rows, from right to left, and then just merrily purling my way across the wrong sides. Not this time, buddy. And even when I did remember to Do Things to my WS rows, remembering to read the chart the other way required a bit of extra brain work. I'm thinking of this as my anti-Alzheimer's exercise for the month (or the year, maybe?).
Well, it turns out that there is one more unforeseen consequence of lace knitting where stitch movement takes place on both sides of a garment: the propagation of dropped stitches. I found this out the hard way on Tuesday evening, when I took the shawl out to work on, and saw what appeared to be a gaping hole. I stared at it in bemusement for a few seconds, completely unable to parse what I was seeing, as I have had a consistent stitch count, and there was no reason for there to be any sort of hole in my knitting. But when I looked carefully there, lo and behold, were little stitches waving at me. Freely. Completely unattached to other little stitches.
I was horrified.
Further examination revealed that they all came from one dropped stitch. But what with all of the k2togs and ssks and sl1 k2 tog psso, that one stitch lead to another, and another, and dang if there wasn't the mother of all holes in my knitting. Oy. The best I can figure is that I somehow missed grabbing a stitch when I was executing a p2tbl, because I never lost the correct stitch count, which would have been a big enough hint even for me to notice.
So I grabbed the stitches I could see and proceeded to attempt to work them all into place. I ended up capturing everything, but it just wasn't looking quite right. What I ended up with was something that a non-knitter probably wouldn't notice in a blocked shawl, but a knitter would. I was disconsolate. But there was no way I was going to rip anything out; all of those yos and ssks on both sides would just unravel beyond repair.
And before you ask, no. I had no lifeline. I'd sworn to myself that I'd put one in, but everything was going so well (I know, this is like not getting health insurance because one is healthy at the moment).
I stared at it. I tried to decide if I could live with it. I stared at it some more. I showed it to Rick, and he could see it, which made me think that maybe I couldn't live with it. I cursed. Then I hit on the brilliant idea of calling my very favorite LYS first thing Wednesday morning and asking their resident diva whether she might be able to schedule me for an immediate emergency private lesson to learn how to repair knitting mistakes. I've been meaning to take her class on this topic for ages, but, like the lifeline, hadn't done it because things were going well. And because generally I can wing a repair well enough on my own. But not this time.
Debra said she'd help. Rick very kindly agreed to work at home yesterday afternoon so I could go kid-free (can we get a round of applause for a Very Good Guy?), and I headed over. Deb took one look at the repair and said nope. Nothing to be done. Sucks to be you. Prepare yourself to tink back nine or ten rows to get to that place and start over. We're talking thousands of stitches. In reverse. Double oy.
I must've looked horrified, because she explained very clearly that maybe she could repair it if it were her project, and she'd been working with the pattern for a while and knew how it went together, but that even then she wasn't sure, because it is difficult to pull a dropped stitch up in a project like this. I felt a little better that I hadn't been able to fix it, but was still having trouble accepting that we couldn't work through this together, like reasonable adults. Apparently, however, Debra likes a challenge, because after a few minutes of her saying no I won't do this, and me saying but I know exactly which stitch we'd need to drop to try again and come on don't be a girly-girl, we were somehow crouched over the table, knitting needles everywhere, teasing that stitch back down to the scene of its crime while she said over and over but I said no, do you see what you've done, I wasn't going to do this but here we are even though I said no... And then we were elbow-deep in chaos.
And by "we", I mean "her". It was an awesome sight. Over the next hour, I watched her reason her way through the pattern, figuring out just by looking at the repeats I'd gotten right (which is a bigger number than the one I'd gotten wrong, I should say) where each stitch needed to go next, and what floating yarn to pick up to make it do that. By the end, she had recreated something that was so close to what it's supposed to be that, when the shawl is blocked, I don't think even a knitter is going to be able to spot where I went wrong, without knowing where to look and using a magnifying glass. It was awe-inspiring.
And boy howdy, did I learn a ton. She was kind enough to actually talk me through most of what she was thinking as she went, and while I'm not convinced I could repeat her feat, I think I have a much better understanding of how to approach a problem like that, and in a simpler piece I might have a solid shot at it. People, this is why we need to support our local yarn stores and their invaluable resources of experienced human beings (preaching to the choir, I know). There is no way anyone could have talked me through this online, no tutorials on uTube that would have shown me what to do. This one came out of years of experience, and an incredibly sharp mind that has some sort of spacial genius that I might not ever develop. Thanks to her willingness to go through that hour with me watching, though, I think I'm a tiny bit closer.
And yes. I've put in a lifeline. See? I can be taught.