The importance of documentation

A couple of weeks ago I spent a day gathering up my far-flung WIPs. I had bags in my library, in my knitting nook, in the living room, in the bedroom and in my office at work! Seeing everything piled up in one place was a bit daunting but, in the perverse attitude of a fiber freak, fantastically energizing.

Using Ravelry and my Knit Buddy iTouch app, I arranged everything into two categories. The ones that I felt I could get to at least once a week became WIPs. The others went into my Queue.

As I became reaquanted with my neglected WIPs, I slammed head first into the one rule that I just can’t seem to retain. Make REAL notes! Cryptic jottings do not qualifiy!!

My Stonington Shawl is a perfect example. Here is a reproduction of the notes I made on the Xerox copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s instructions.

When I first laid out the shawl, I realized that I was about halfway finished with the second trapezoid. Wow! What luck! With my notes, I shouldn’t have any trouble with this garter stitch segment. I knit and knit and knit. There was a marker in my knitting that I assumed (a word that should be removed from the English language) that it marked a boundary. Once I had worked up to that marker, I would have the 200 stitches that were to form the outer edge. In my defense, I did count the stitches on the first outer edge and they added up to 200.

Towards the top of the second trapezoid, or what I thought was the top, I became curious and counted my stitches – a lot more than 200! And, I still had a couple more rows before I reached the deceitful marker! Blast!!!!

By now I have over 400 stitches loaded onto my 32” circular needle. Time to transfer all of the stitches onto a very long piece of cotton yarn so I can spread out my shawl and figure out just what in the world is going on!! Notice how I didn’t cut a long piece of yarn. If you are trying on a sweater and have a good idea how big around it will be, then you can cut a long piece of yarn with extra to accommodate any errors in your calculation. But, with a shawl, you really don’t know how much yarn you will need so don’t cut until the shawl is spread out. That way you won’t run out of the scrap yarn and you can re-use it later.

Well, then, now what seems to be the trouble?

Clearly I have managed to add many more stitches to the second trapezoid than the first. Since it seems to be a problem from the very beginning, my guess is that my mathematical (let alone geometry) skills failed me much more than my lack of detailed notes.

This is going to require A LOT of ripping out. And, I’m not really that pleased with the way it looks. I absolutely love this colorway – Bayou – so I want a shawl that shows it off. This does not look like the answer. I’m going to go off to eat dinner and spend the evening wandering around in Ravelry and the internet. I have a little idea buzzing around in my head but you will have to wait until tomorrow.