Of a Tea Shawl and a Quilt

I suppose it’s unreasonable to expect that the things we make always go to plan. Even though I know things don’t always work out, I find myself surprised still that in the space of a month I can have great success with a beautiful doily churned out in a fortnight and then have a series of failures. I suppose that’s just the way of the world, isn’t it?

My Shetland Tea Shawl, as I mentioned in the last post, suffered a mishap and although it wasn’t a mishap brought on by lack of focus on the pattern, I still feel in some way responsible for it. I had made it through twenty-one rounds of the most complex chart in the pattern (which has thirty-six rounds) and was feeling like finally I’d found my groove. Through the knitting of it, I’d noticed a few times that the join between the cable and the point was wobbly. I had to push it back in a few times – it hadn’t come out – it was just a little loose.

Reader, take heed. If your cable is wobbly at the join, get rid of it lest what happened to me should happen to you. Late on Friday night the cable simply fell out of the join. Just like that. In an instant, a whole section on the left side of the work just dropped. Here’s what I was left with. Just a bare naked cable end and a piece of work that stands at approximately 570 stitches and was quite possibly ruined. I quietly wept.


I carefully placed the loose, floppy mass of unravelled stitches back on the needle and put it in a bag, knowing it was late and that I had a busy weekend ahead of me. Alice and lace work aren’t a winning combination. Over the last couple of days I’ve raged inwardly about it. All that work. Could I bear to rip it all back to the plain section and start that bloody chart all over again? Let me point out it’s a complex chart with lace on every row – no plain rows in between. And that I ripped out this section three weeks ago when I’d made too many mistakes. At that point, Drk and RoseRed and urged me to put in a lifeline.

I did not put in a life line. Pride goeth before a fall. We all know that. But in my defence I will say that I think lifelines are difficult in lace that has no plain rows. I’m happy for those of you more accomplished than I to correct me on that front.

Here’s the shawl as it looks today. You can see how very big it’s getting.


I’ve spent the last hour moving it onto another needle, a more secure one and examining the section where I’ve tried to pick up and reconstruct the fallen work. There’s been debate with friends in recent days about trying to be very clever and rebuilding it by pinning out the section and knitting painstakingly just in that section but on examination in daylight I’ve decided that it’s perhaps not as bad as I thought. I think two rows are affected by the incident but only in an area that runs across about twenty stitches. I think, as long as I’m happy to have a dodgy section that isn’t perfect, I can reconstruct it and keep going. I’m sure as hell not going to, at this stage, rip it out stitch by stitch. That way lies madness when it’s fiddly lace. But it’s not out of the question.

I had a vague notion that I’d like to enter this in the show next year. With a dodgy section, it won’t be possible but you know what? That’s ok. There are more lace shawls in my future this year. Maybe the next one will be a little closer to perfect.

That said, I should know within a round or two if the reconstruction effort is wasted. It might just be more awful than I realise. We shall see. In the meantime, that cable is now tossed on the floor and it’s next stop is the bin.

I did, for a few hours last night, consider tossing everything I’m knitting and starting over because it’s all just misery making. But I’m stronger than that. I can weather this knitting storm. I think as many have pointed out, the searing heat makes us all grumpy and unable to cope as well as we might.

In happier news, my squares from last week are now joined up and ringed (can you say ringed about a square?) with two borders. This, I can happily say, makes me feel like not everything is at a loss.


Isn’t it lovely? I feel so accomplished. My foot is included not as a joke or accident as my sister thought but for scale. I am going to send this off to the QLD Flood Relief project and Corrie or one of her helpers will make this top into a quilt for me. And pretty soon, I’m going to start another one because I want one to keep!


Right, back to my shawl and the air con.



31 thoughts on “Of a Tea Shawl and a Quilt

  1. The quilt is gorgeous. As for the knitting cable all I can say is “crap” that’s just not a good thing to have happen. I see in a later post you have recovered, so that is wonderful. Do Knitpicks replace cables that do that?

  2. Pingback: Shawl with Sheep « Bellsknits

  3. I can’t believe you “quietly wept” I’d have screamed bloody murder! Good for you for being patient and working through it. Can’t wait to see it all done.

  4. Oh to have craft talent. Am very envious!!

    Thought I’d better check out/follow everyone who is attending the AusBlogCon. Pop over to bigwords if you get a moment x

  5. Oh My !!! …I feel your pain here, and sadly am familiar with it, worth saving though so persevere 🙂

    I often find these minor challenges end up bringing out the best results, due to the sheer determination to not let it get the better of you…lol

    On the UP side your quilt looks very pretty indeed ! 😀

  6. You can fix it. It’s easier than you fear, and you are smarter than you give yourself credit for. Be calm, be patient, and knit boldly. Really, when it’s finished, you will not be able to find the spot.

    The quilt looks wonderful – excellent choice with the sashing and the border. Bravo! Sew on!!

  7. Oh no! Evil heat-induced lace crisis! I sympathise. Whenever I feel like that I put it all in a bag, seal it up, and put it somewhere where I won’t be able to see it. If it’s really bad, sometimes in a cupboard with the door shut. Then days or sometimes even weeks later when I get it out, past crisis mood, I can usually find a way to fix things. (only occasionally put them back).

    But what I really wanted to say was beautiful quilt, good job!

  8. oh no! That happened to one of my needles, exactly the same brand (judging by the colour of the cable). I took it to a shop that sold them, although not where I had originally got it from, and they replaced it free of charge – apparently they send it back to the manufacturers and get a refund.

    And that quilt top looks fabulous, I’m not surprised you want one to keep.

  9. Air conditioning? I spent half of the last 12 hours shoveling snow!

    I think it’s worth trying to reconstruct the shawl. There is a lot of knitting there — and I suspect you are the only one who’d be able to make out the dodgy area. You really are a perfectionist so I am sure that the mistake is minor.

  10. So sorry to hear about the shawl! I would have had a glass of wine and put myself to bed. I had the same problem with the Knitpicks needles, and when I contacted them, they mailed a new set of cables and caps immediately, no questions asked. Might be worth a try!

  11. Thought I left a comment last night, but was awfully tired and must have hit the wrong button. Anyhow…so sorry for the mishap, but really a 26 stitch section isn’t going to ruin the thing. It’s a round shawl anyway, so just fold that bit to the inside when you wear it. 😉 Just be prepared that you’ll notice it when you’re blocking, but after that you’ll have to put in some work to find it again. And it’s a cinch no one else will have a clue. But AARRGH!!! Knit picks!!! This isn’t the first time someone’s run afoul of one of those blasted needles. They soured me on interchangeable needles and I STILL haven’t recovered. 😉

  12. Having watch you knit for a while (ok, watched you via the internet), I don’t think you’ll be happy with the shawl if you don’t rip it out and make sure it’s right. I always start out to fix something but then end up ripping it and starting from a life line because the messed up part draws my eye and my attention every time.

    That said, it’s such a beautiful piece. The color is perfect for you. Whether you enter it in a show or not, it’s worthy of your best effort.

  13. Well. You know I’m swearing about those needles from here.

    The quilt, though, is gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. And I do remember how grumpy high heat and humidity make me but right now I’m watching it snow AGAIN (my kids haven’t had a full week of school since I don’t know when, they’ll be in school in July, poor things) and relentless snow kind of makes a person grumpy after a while too. Sigh. This is why people take vacations, right? 😉

  14. oh, the stuff of nightmares! i’ve had that happen with my denise needles once (and hopefully only once). if you can fix it, that would be great, and a rewarding achievement. although i’m not a hard core perfectionist, i must admit that i mucked up a (much simpler) feather and fan baby blanket a few years ago, fudged it to get it working again, finished it and cast off … then felt troubled by the mistake so had to rip back several days work in 3 ply baby wool. now i’m glad i did.

    you are so generous to make that quilt for queensland, it’s lovely and will be much appreciated i’m sure.

  15. Ah, Knitpicks! I have had their needles fall apart on me, but never while doing lace – you poor thing! That is terrible! Hope the recapture worked better than you think it did, and that you maybe even got the stitches on exactly as they should be. How very scary.

  16. As someone who has knit for many years I ‘DO’ use lifelines with lace for that very reason. I also use a lot of stitch markers too, so I can easily keep track of stitch counts and repeats. I don’t like to tink or frog and if I’m prepared I usually don’t have to. With care you should be able to correct the problems. That is such a beautiful blue!

  17. Oh grrrrr – you poor thing – I hope you get it going again in what ever way makes you happy – sometimes stitch perfect is good, sometimes not – it’s how you feel about it that matters most – and yay for quilting success!

  18. I’m very glad that it wasn’t as bad as you thought originally, and you didn’t have to rebuild it strand by strand.

    But I stand apart from the others; for me the lace must be perfect. I’ll go back thousands of stitches stitch by stitch if I have to. I’ll rip it back ten times. It’s just the way it is with me. It has to be right.

    I have a cable needle that does exactly the same thing, and its VERY annoying. Superglue doesn’t really work either, it’s like russian roulette knitting! I don’t know why I don’t just thow it away …

    I’m looking forward to seeing your tea shawl finished. It’s lovely so far.

  19. I’m with those hoping you can reconstruct the stitches sufficiently so that you don’t have to rip back…though ripping back is far preferable to abandoning the shawl, as it’s looking so beautiful.

  20. Oh how horrible for your cable needle to break like that. I would be deeply upset too. I hope the part that you fixed looks okay for you to continue. Your quilt squares look perfect and such lovely combinations too. I agree the heat does make everyone grumpy, and when the evap cooling blows out warm air in our house I am especially grumpy because I cannot even pick up my knitting!

  21. I’m holding a good thought that you can deal with the couple of rows where the trouble is and race through the rest. Once it’s finished, you know you won’t even be aware of where the problem is without really careful examination, and the piece is really SO gorgeous.

    I’m loving the quilt, too…the white sashing really sets off the pieced blocks, and I love the blue border, too!

  22. I would frog it back. It would just bother me too much have a section that I knew wasn’t right. I am an insane perfectionist though, and this is pretty much exactly why I *don’t* knit lace.

  23. yes glad to hear its not as bad as first thought. and no, not every piece has to be perfect and show worthy. my first attempts at circulars certainly werent! but do trust your instincts. if you know after your reconstruction and a few rows that its not right, then rip it. before you do, put in a lifeline. i know its a pain, and i say this as the person who Never Used Lifelines. i will not make that mistake again, and i would thread one through stitch by stitch below the part that collapsed so you can at least rip it back to somewhere safe, because the heart break of ripping the whole thing will mean you probably wont start it again, and that would be bad, because its just GORGEOUS! and i want you to finish. and to feel good about it too, because you really should. like the not-quilt. its lovely!

  24. You know, I don’t think I’d realised you were doing the Tea Shawl in the Wollmeise! (it is the Wollmeise, isn’t it??) It’s so lovely! And I’m so glad it isn’t as bad as you thought it might have been. I am sure you can fix it and it will look wonderful!

    I try not to put lifelines in a lace row, they never work very well with yarnovers, but if it has to be done, it has to be done, I think. But I don’t use them enough either.

    I think you can glue the cable back into the needle bit – if you can be bothered.

    And I think the QUILT looks lovely! It’s amazing the difference it makes to the squares to have them GIRT by borders (heh!!)

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