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I Knit Around

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Knitting Olympics, Day Two: Crisis of Confidence

Day Two started well. I began knitting early (shortly after 11 a.m.), and worked steadily throughout the day. By 4:30 p.m., I had made enough progress that I felt good about taking a break, so Gryphon and I went out on some small errands.

I continued knitting after we returned home, and around 7:30 p.m. or so, I had made goal for the day. Plenty of time to gain even more ground, so I kept going.

By 11:30 p.m., I had reached the 75th row. Theoretically, according to the shawl percentage calculator, Kiri was now 25% done.

I looked down at what I had on the needles. 25%? That didn't seem possible. I checked the shawl percentage calculator spreadsheet. Supposedly, I've knit half of all the rows that will ever be in this thing, if I knit it as I originally planned. I could only expect to double the current length and width, at best.

Kiri Progress, Day Two
Is This Really a Quarter of a Shawl?

I stretched the knitting to simulate blocking and measured. 8" down the center of the spine. That means my finished shawl would only be 16" long! Something was definitely wrong here.

I went back to the original pattern, and studied the instructions. The original Kiri was knit in Rowan Kid Silk Haze, on size 4.5mm needles. They used 3 balls of yarn to achieve around 66" in width, and 32" in length, and they got there doing only 12 repeats of Chart 2.

I had based my plan on those numbers, without accounting for the fact that I am using a lace-weight yarn (KSH is listed as a DK-weight), and knitting on Addi Turbo size 1 to get the effect I want - instead of the size 7 originally called for.

Imagine yourself entering a long-distance cross-country ski race at the Olympics, and you think you've prepared for it properly, only to find that you're at the starting line wearing figure skates instead. You might make it to the end of the course, but it's going to take you much, much, longer than you thought.

I blame lack of proper training. I had done test swatches to determine what size needles I wanted to use, but it never occurred to me to measure them and see how many rows I'd have to knit to reach the size I wanted.

I crunched some numbers, and decided I'd have to go for about 292 rows to make the full-size shawl I desire. Plugging that figure into the shawl percentage calculator, I discovered that my hard-won, didn't waste any time progress for the first two days had only netted me 6.6% completion on the shawl.

6.6% in two days, knitting full out? If I could expect to only knit about 3 and 1/3rd percent every day, knitting at top speed, this shawl would never be done by the end of the Olympics.

The remainder of the evening was spent agonizing over what to do. I didn't want to drop out of the Olympics. Personally, though I understand that many are actually jumping events or changing goals as they discover that their original Olympic plans won't pan out, I didn't want to do that. My intention when I entered this competition was to knit with lace-weight yarn, and to knit a shawl from the Kiri pattern.

I briefly considered if I should keep to the Kiri pattern portion of my event, and change to another, heavier yarn. Given our finances, it would have to be something from stash. I pulled out the only yarn I had in the right weight range, Lion Brand's Wool-Ease Sportweight in the discontinued Fuchsia color.

With size 7 needles, I cast on about 11:30 p.m., and in an hour I had completed 25 rows. A full half of the number of rows I had knit on Day One in my laceweight, and so quickly. I realized that changing to the Wool-Ease Sportweight would lower the level of difficulty so much that it would no longer be a challenge.

Vowing to worry more about the problem the next day, I went to my bedroom and puttered at my usual winding-down ritual of small computer games (Insaniquarium, Bejeweled 2 Deluxe, Big Kahuna Reef, Simple Sudoku). My mind, as usual, did not let go of the shawl problem. Rather, it reminded me that the more important part of my Olympic plan was the knitting with laceweight yarn, and that I would feel I'd completely abandoned that plan if I used anything else.

I had already entertained the notion that, no matter what, I was going to finish Kiri in the laceweight, perhaps gifting it to my mother for Mother's Day. Well, what if I decided to modify my Olympic goal? Stay in the same set of events - knitting Kiri in laceweight - but change from the Marathon to the Mile? I could still knit Kiri, but make a goal of just making it as large as I could in the time allotted.

I wasn't quite sold on this plan, until I thought more about my mother and how she's likely to use a shawl. And I realized, she'd probably prefer a smaller shawl that she could tie around her shoulders over a full-size one. And that I think I can manage by the time the torch is snuffed.

And so, today I'm continuing to knit my laceweight Kiri. I'm still using my original spreadsheet to keep track of how many rows I've done, but now that I don't know how many I'm going to knit in total, I can't be sure what percentage of the final shawl I'm at. Progress tracking will now be very seat of the pants, and I'll simply try to knit as many as I can each and every day.

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