Monday, May 6, 2013

Mystery Shawl Knit-Along

I went over daughter Erica’s house yesterday in order to begin knitting her Minerva knit-along mystery shawl. The first clue actually came out Friday, but since I've never followed a knit pattern before, I was seriously scared. I tried to look the first clue over, but it made my eyes spin around and my head start to hurt -- it looked a bit like hieroglyphics. (On her KAL discussion group I likened it to taking a test in my old high school calculus class with a bad hangover. That same sinking feeling of I can't do this.) Afraid to even try without someone making sure I did the correct stitches, I waited until yesterday to start so I could go over Erica's for a bit of start-up guidance. Since I'm a fairly new knitter, I really don't know how to do many stitches either. Erica kept telling me to practice, but I wasn't even sure how to go about practicing. The closer the start date came, the more Erica kept eyeing me, asking if I was sure I wanted to try this.
But I went to her house and, although it took me a few hours, I finished up the first row after the cast on. So … I DID it!!! How can you be proud of yourself after only the first row, when there are a zillion more to come? Well, now I'm not afraid to try row two, so that's something.
On the first row -- maybe other rows, too, but I haven't gotten there yet -- the pattern was in groups of three stitches. I was still pretty close to the beginning of the row -- like maybe only stitch #11 in -- when I saw that I hadn’t done it quite right. I said Erica, ummm … can you fix this? All she had to do was rip back a few stitches. Then another few stitches later I messed up and, again, said Erica…? She was probably ready to hear me say that every few minutes, but then she came up with a brilliant tip and gave me a visual for what I should be seeing: knit, bump bump. I looked at the stitches and thought, hunh, whaddya know! So I started counting 123, 123, 123, 123, like a mantra, and after every third stitch, after every "3,"  I would stop and look at the stitches to see if they went knit bump bump. I never made another mistake and got all the way to the end of the row. And, believe me, that was one loooooooong row. 
That was it for me because I’m very slow and that one row took me almost two hours.
Day one of my Minerva mystery shawl KAL
The shawl was cast on using KnitPicks Sunstruck interchangeable needles (my very cool Christmas present from Erica), but after I messed up so close to the beginning, Erica thought I might do better with her Kollage Square needles with the soft K-Kable. Wow, what a difference. Maybe that’s why I never made another mistake. I love my KnitPicks needles, but this made doing all that back loop stuff so much easier. The tips are so pointy and the needles just slide through the stitch's loops. Switching needles made me feel more relaxed, so I guess it helped in that respect, too. I have to switch back before she comes over in a few days, but she assured me that the rest of the shawl would be easier. Usually just row one after the cast on is a little tighter.
Erica took this photo of me as I was partially through row one. You can see that the cast on stitches are on my KnitPicks Sunstruck interchangeable needles and that I’m working row one onto the Kollage Square needles. 

Fingers crossed as I go attempt the next row!!!