This was my holiday knitting project and I knew from the start that it was going to be a challenge to both my patience and my knitting skills. I am not a “natural” lace knitter. I am much more at home with socks.
Percy shawl. A free pattern by Sanne Kalkman, available via Ravelry
3 balls of Drops Alpaca from The Wool Shed
3.5mm Addi circular needles
I knitted it as per the instructions. I wanted a big shawl, but could not face a further repeat of Chart B. It blocked out to fit my exercise mat, so all is well – any bigger would have been a problem!
Where is my hawk?
So... what was so difficult?
The pattern is written for experienced shawl-knitters, so it took me a few attempts to get started. There is a provisional cast-on and then a right-angled turn. OK. But you need to know to place stitch markers either side of your central stitch and always work a yarn-over next to these on the right-side rows. The yarn-over is charted but you might not realise there should be a central stitch. It is written into the pattern introduction, but not within the main body of the instructions / charts, so I missed this vital fact at first.
Chart A is a doddle. Relax and knit.
On Chart B, I placed stitch markers at each pattern repeat, as without them I could not tell what I was doing. Chart B has “business” on both sides – knit and purl rows - and I frequently had to pick back to the previous marker when my stitch count went awry. Some entire rows were picked back two, three times before I got them right. I could not memorise the pattern for an entire row to save my life.Nancy Bush's nupps. Yes, really!
I thought my troubles were over when I finished Chart B, but I had not taken account of the nupps (to rhyme with loops) of Chart C! OMG. The nupps, the nupps! At Knit Camp, I took the opportunity to fondle Nancy Bush’s nupps (ooh err missus!) and I can see that my problem was all about tension.
I should have used a larger needle. I pulled my loops far too tight on the right side row, and ended up digging around with the needle, trying to “purl 7 together” for five, ten minutes per nupp – oh dear!
An example of my loopy nupps.
Some rows took me over an hour to negotiate. And when I blocked it, I discovered that I had dropped several loops in the process. The shame! I will have to sew them into position. Next time I knit nupps, I will do so VERY loosely and using a specialist lace-knitting needle with a fierce stiletto point.
I cannot deny that this is the most complicated lace I have ever attempted, and it is really rather beautiful (if you overlook the loopy nupps, which I will fix). I was crazy to think I could knit it in a week. The Drops Alpaca is amazing value and I love the colour, but I think my next shawl will be knit with something firmer. Nancy Bush recommends a 2 ply Shetland laceweight.
And Nancy knows, you know.