Today I have for you a fix and a ramble.

Clue #2 of my In Dreams Mystery Shawl is almost done. This is an amazingly bead-heavy clue – I think Jonica (she is working on two of the things! Holy crap) worked out that there are 912 beads on just this clue. These are worked into triangles that grow in the middle of each repeat of the pattern, slowly taking over the whole row until at the end it will be nothin’ but beads and empty space.

You will observe, in the correct repeat below, that the triangle grows out of a neat center line?

Well, you can only imagine my dismay when I knit across to one repeat where this was NOT what it looked like. See the center line drifting off to the right?

I am pretty chill about my knitting. I know this is just a hobby, just yarn and beads, not world hunger. I let all kinds of mistakes go and call them “design elements,” knowing full well that anyone who would both notice and criticize my mistakes probably needs even more therapy than I’ve already had. But this particular mistake is bad. This is Not Acceptable. This was an occasion for:


This is by far the hardest such surgery I’ve had to do. Usually I just drop down and fiddle a fix with my working needles. But this is (a) fine handspun lace yarn, (b) complex lace knitting, (c) BEADED (wheeze wheeze), (d) waaaay faaaar dooooown (echo echo echo). So I did it right.

Step 1: Drink Coffee. Wine may seem like a good idea, but it is not. Find somewhere with no distractions and a pin-able surface and nail down the offending area.

Step 2: Remove all the stitches from the needles that grew out of the mistake. (In a perpetually growing section, this meant a lot of stitches.)

Step 3: Say a few bad words to yourself when you realize you have to take off even more stitches.

Step 4: Carefully pull out each row, separating the strands so you can come back to them in the right order. Stop when you reach the last row that was correct, and put that row on a DPN of the same size or a little smaller. (You may want to sit down before you look at this next picture.)

(It makes me feel a little sick too.)

Step 5: One by one, start knitting the rows back up. Conveniently, you can knit them all right to left (on the right side) on DPNs of the same size or one size smaller.

Step 6: Realize that hands shaking from caffeine intake is not helping. Return several hours later with better lighting.

Step 7: Invent several new beading and increase techniques as you go because this is impossibly fiddly.

Step 8: When all rows are knit back up, put the stitches back on the needle and move the beads back to the right places, as they’ve inevitably gone every which way.

Step 9: Now go have some wine and a lie down and make your husband cook dinner.

It doesn’t look awesome; it’s sort of misshapen from being reconstructed at weird angles, but the stitches are all correct. So I’m hoping that with some coaxing (read: severe blocking) it’ll look like the other repeats. At least the line is in the right place.

Now for the ramble:

This whole Lord of the Rings knitting thing is sort of funny – I think part of why I’m so entranced with the project is because of the fantasy of the whole thing. Knitting this impossibly beautiful elven shawl makes me imagine I am perched on a fine wicker chair in Rivendell, knitting by the light of a fall sunset in a suitably elegant but surprisingly comfortable gown. As I fixed this error, sitting on my bed in jeans and a tee shirt, hunched over the blue blob pinned to the sheets, squinting through unbrushed hair and trying desperately to keep all the foul language I was thinking from coming out of my mouth, the whole thing seemed a little ironic. I suppose most of consumer culture is trying to sell us a fantasy, hoping that we don’t notice when we acquire said product that we aren’t prettier/skinnier/richer/more virile than we were before. I would never accuse this designer of such cynicism; this is a magnum opus for a very talented woman and I’m thrilled to be a part of her work. It’s just that I as a deeply enculturated member of a consumeristic society tend to get involved in things because of a fantasy about what absorbing this product will do for me. But sometimes the disjunction is good: it’s good to let things be more than products, to be good and true and beautiful for what they are, not try to absorb them into myself, consume them in order to become more like the person in my fantasies. Maybe the project will help inspire me to put more beauty and order and creativity and goodness into my life – I certainly hope so! But that will be me living my life, not abdicating my life to a product and an idea.

14 thoughts on “Hunched

  1. Ahh, beautiful! Although I dread MAJOR SURGERY as much as the next person, I generally feel really accomplished and proud when I’ve fixed something on such a fiddly thing. Hopefully, you do, too.


  2. Hey! I almost passed out when I saw this! YIKES! I do know it is looking really pretty! And I am almost done clue 2 for the Fire Dreams one. Will start the Starry Nights one next week. See with it being so simple but beaded so much I knit on this when my husband is at work during the day. If I did this in the evening I think I would never get it done as my husband seems to think it is ok to tap me in the middle of counting… to save the marriage…..I knit it in the day time. Socks at night!


  3. that’s gorgeous – it’s a great feeling when you’re able to fix something like that! Did you develop the pattern yourself?


  4. That is impressive surgery! I don’t think I’ve ever fixed a mistake like that so far down in my work. Instead I have gotten good at variations of “this will only take me a few hours to rip out and fix, and I’ll only lose a week to knit it back up….what is that compared to the 4 months it will take me to make it?!” I used to be a rather slow knitter. Not any more….I have poured myself into my passion (finally) and can knit 700 yards in 4 weeks!! (A record for me.)


  5. I am in awe of this. I would have ripped it out and (hopefully had a lifeline) reknit it.

    Part of the magic and joy of this for me, is the fantasy of the thing. My favorite story put into a medium that I can take part in. I, too, picture myself sitting in the open air rooms in Rivendell working on my lace. Of course, in my fantasy, I am tall and willowy with very long flowing hair (I am 5’4 and have never been called willowy)…..


  6. Donna Lee – I like my elven fantasies but am comforted that we are probably mostly really hobbits 🙂 (Every now and then I meet someone who could be a real elf, though. And I have one friend who desperately wants to be a wizard.)


  7. I am IMPRESSED! That was superb surgery! And thank you for having the kindness to capture the process with pictures and share the journey.


  8. I would love to link your fix on my Ravelry project “helpful links” thread, because i think what you did is awesome! and it might be able to help me one day. Please let me know if this is ok? ♥


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