Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rock Island: Work in Progress

I could not resist my new Sunshine Fiber Co. Lace Merino Silk. I'm already knitting with it.

I enjoy knitting lace, but I am not a person who wears shawls so I often pass on many of the "in" projects for lace knitters. But when I saw Rock Island by Jared Flood, I was tempted. It's a lace shawl, but it is so delicate and beautiful and modern that I was having trouble resisting. I was doing just fine until I realized my new yarn is just enough yardage for this project and then I caved.

I swatched on Tuesday night and although I had just bought lovely size 6 lace needles from my local yarn shop (the size recommended in the pattern)--it turns out I needed to move up to size 7 to get gauge--even after blocking. :(. I thought about using the size 6s anyway as I wouldn't mind a smaller shawl, but decided not to as the open, airy look of the shawl is part of what attracted me to it. I am sad to not get to use my new needles, but so far my old size 7 bamboo needles are working just fine.

Rock Island starts with 71 repeats of a 8 row lace edging. I have completed 14 repeats so far and am getting into a good rhythm. From everyone's comments on Ravelry, the edging is the hardest part. One thing I've done to help me are adding a "lifeline" at the end of each repeat (the purple yarn in the picture). This way if I make a mistake, I can just go back to the beginning of that 8 row repeat and know that all stitches are on the needle correctly. I made a few errors early on (a few forgotten yarn ons) and when I worked back, I felt undoing the SSKs was right fiddly--thus my addition of the lifeline. Hopefully I didn't mess anything up in those early repeats as I've now gone far enough that I don't want to go back. I am also using a magnetic board with magnets to hold my chart and isolate the row I am working on. I am also using a counter to keep track of how many repeats I've completed.

People were complaining about the difficulty of reading the chart and keeping K2tog and SSK straight. I've realized that all right side rows start with a YO and a K2tog. Then rows 1 and 3 switch to SSK. Rows 2 and 4 are all K2tog. Rows 5 and 7 are all K2tog. Rows 6 and 8 are all SSK. Because of the yarn overs at the beginning of each right side row (they make little loops that stick out), it is easy to tell if you are on the right side or wrong side.

Anyway, as in all lace, the pattern has some logic to it that helps make it easier to remember. This edging is done in garter stitch which is harder for me to read than stockinette lace so I'm glad to have my aids to keep it straight. Anyway, I am enjoying knitting this so far. Can't wait to see this lovely lace all blocked out. It is amazing what blocking does to lace!

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