A list I'm on is having a Zen Shawl Exchange--you select a pattern, select some yarn, create a shawl. No limits, no guidelines. I've had really good experiences with this list before; we are a bunch of geek fiber enthusiasts. I am not afraid of knitting something in lacey in cobweb weight cashmere and getting something in sloppy garter in garish Red Heart in return. If anything, I'm a little concerned my stuff won't measure up when we do these!
So, I found a fingering/sport weight yarn in an ice blue/cream marl; and it's one of those yarns that lends itself to lots of slashes. It's a cotton/wool/nylon/acrylic blend (see?) that feels like mostly cotton and wool. It'll be warm, but not too warm, and pleasantly rustic; not the kind of thing that "ought to be put away for a special occasion." It'll be a sit by the fire drinking cocoa, swing on the porch swing with mint lemonade, let the grandchildren borrow it for a tea party kind of shawl.
I liked this pattern, and thought I would work it as a split shape--you cast on some stitches for a collar, knit about an inch in a non-curling stitch, then keeping some border stitches in the same non-curling stitch, you work the pattern you're after.
Looking at the Pafugalhale (Peacock's Tail--thanks for the English translation, Nurhanne!) I noted that on row 12 you have 96 stitches, plenty for a collar. Perfect, sez I, casting on 96 plus my borders and whipping it out while watching the extended editions of the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. It's great wag-around knitting, with one row of moderate concentration for every four rows of pattern, then three of mindless stockinette.
But after a couple of pattern rows, it started acting funky. Nothing lined up. Does anyone ELSE see the boneheaded manuever? (And if you do, please keep it to yourself. My ego is a delicate blossom of the Orient.)
Yah, you have 96 sts AFTER COMPLETING Row 12. I had to rip the whole thing out 'cos I plain and simple had way too many stitches. Hokay, I was in a sugar coma when I cast on--too much good stuff, hanging with the foodies.
Tried again--cast on enough for the collar, tweaked the pattern a tich to keep it lacy enough, started at a different place. Humming right along till I hit another snag.
I realized I was about 8 rows from the dead center of the pattern--and the article looked more like a muffler than a shawl. I like my shawls mid-thigh, and have been known to knit them over six feet square to get them big enough for my liking. (Think Spawn and the closing scene where the superhero is wearing his posing cloak. Yeah. Like that.)
Now, I had planned to cut this one down a bit, since not everyone likes to be able to blanket the neighborhood with their garments while they're in them. But, er, not like that. Not a Barbie Zen Shawl exchange.
I checked gauge (what! Now? Not BEFORE??? I know, I know [hangs head, shuffles feet]. Hey, do as I SAY, not as I DO, right?) and realized that even if I stretched it to flinders before blocking, there was no way this would reach an adult woman of roughly average height's waist. Sigh.
Cast on again, on a bigger needle. Knit a couple of rows before discovering I had just the right number of stitches--but of course the gauge had changed again, so the collar was more like the right size for a waistband. Siiiiiiiigh.
So--retinkered the pattern to start sooner on fewer stitches, and it looks like we're back on track again. So why does the photo above show the thing on two needles?
Revenge. Rather than pull the whole thing out and give it a swift and merciful death, I'm going to let the miscreant bit watch in horror as I knit up from the other end, slowly consuming the unknitted yarn, then sliding its loops off the needle, and ripping it bit by bit as I knit it up on the larger needle.
Muwahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa. Do not thwart me, for I am subtle and quick to anger.