When last we corresponded, I had determined that my guinea-pig-sized skein of Blue Heron cotton was to meet its destiny as a lace shawl, specifically Kiri, a 100% Free Pattern (yay!) designed by All Tangled Up Polly.
Remember when I screwed up my swatch for the Kiri shawl and we played NAME THAT STITCH MANEUVER? Remember the many excellent names that were suggested? You know:
Oops. Oh s**t !
the Tangled Mess
knitting blindfolded after three gin and tonics while doing a triple axel
k2tog-yo-don’t slip the stitch off the needle-yo-k
rats, I’ve got too many stitches left so I think I’ll do a double decrease, and besides, it’s at the top of the shawl so my hair will cover it
a reflexive response to society’s pressure to conform within 21st century gender models
Well, I ditched the whole mess and started over, using size 6 (4 mm) needles instead of size 7. Much tidier, I must say. But incredibly enough, at the same place in the pattern that I screwed up before, I screwed up again.
But this time, I was eight repeats into the pattern. Too much to ditch and start over.
So. I recalled The Voice of Wisdom, who a long time ago wrote about the way to rip out lace without ripping out your hair.
As an encouragement to fellow beginningish lace knitters everywhere, and to get some lemonade out of a sour little experience, here’s
How to Make a Lifeline
Step 1. Stare at the six messed-up stitches for two hours. Try a few k2tog-yo-don’t slip the stitch off the needle-yo-ks just to be sure a miracle doesn’t happen. (It won’t.) Realize that you have irredeemably screwed up.
Step 2. Decide, the way you decide to eat Grandma’s preserved figs even as you despise preserved figs, to rip back to a better place. Remember that you have already wasted two hours wishing for a pony that will never come.
Step 3. You’re going to rip back to a row where the living was easy, when a purl was a purl and all the stitches looked the same. Many lace knitting patterns are created with every other row done in purl. That’s what Kiri does. If you’re doing one of those insane front-and-back-is-different patterns, choose a row that you know is not screwed up, and do this:
Step 4. Use a tapestry needle and some yarn (Patons Grace is excellent for both lifelines and trussing a chicken), thread your way through the Good Row. Pay attention that you catch every stitch (even the k2tog pssos). If you drop a stitch, well, just don’t do that. The good thing about following a row of stitches this way is that you might even learn something about the way your pattern is behaving. Or. Not.
Step 5: Enjoy the rare pleasure of yanking the needle out of your knitting. Wallow in the alarming sight of loose stitches dangling in the wind.
Step 6: Undo in 90 seconds what took you two hours to knit. When you get to the Good Row, notice how helpful that lifeline is. Hunh.
Step 7: Put all those stitches back on your needle, lifeline and all. Watch out for the stray calf who’s wandered from the herd: return, o wayward stitch. When you’re done, zip out the lifeline, and revel in that feeling of deja vu as you knit your way back to where you were.
Thanks, Emma, for this lifesaving technique. Anyone who wants to share their lifeline experiences, please do. We are developing a reality program in which people fix their terrifying knitting problems on live TV.