Sunday, April 18, 2010

Keeping Count on the Ishbel Shawl

Oh yes, we all love the Ishbel Shawl. It uses the basic framework of triangular shawls that grow out from the center neck, and it has the basic logic of stockinette/stocking stitch body with a froth of lace worked on the last rows to make a fluffy edge to the shawl.

The Eliina Shawl, another of my favorites, is pretty much based on the same logics, although it is arranged to "grow out" from its starting section at a different rate. Ditto for the Daybreak Shawl, with regard to the basic triangular shawl foundation, but West uses no central YOs and adds stripes instead of lace to make his shawl so effective for wearers of either sex.

When knitting up one of these triangles, I always find myself faced by the same problem: how to ensure that I arrive at the start of the lace edging with the correct number of stitches and with a centerline that is not wonky or crooked. Since these shawls use YOs on either side of the center stitch to create growth, placing a YO in the wrong place makes a pretty visible mistake, and eventually the entire shawl can end up with a lovely straight set of YOs in the central area, but uneven areas of stockinette/stocking stitch body on either side.

Before we start, it is imperative that you know EXACTLY how to do YO's between K stitches, between a K and a P, and between a P and a K. These are all EXTREMELY easy, so don't let this stop you. Just go here, and see how easily you can learn these. Don't be stubborn; I had to do it too.

For Ishbel, here's how I solved the main problem: easy math!

When you start, you knit Teague's formula for the central triangle that will dictate the shape as the shawl grows. This ends with a knit row, so she then launches the main pattern for the stockinette/stocking stitch body with a purl row, called "row 1". At the end of this Row 1, you have 11 stitches.

Ishbel then grows based on this formula:

Row 2: K3, YO, K to one st before center stitch, YO, K1 (the center stitch), YO, K to end minus 3 stitches, YO, K3. (Adds 4 stitches to next row)
Row 3: Repeat Row 1, which is basically K3, YO, P to end minus 3 stitches, YO, K3. (Adds 2 stitches to next row).

Teague suggests placing a safety pin before the central stitch, but that left me with a YO in front of the pin, and that left me with snarled laceweight yarn and wonky stitches and centerline. Looking at the larger picture, that also does not guarantee a proper stitch count when you finish the body of the shawl, so that you can safely begin the lace edging. And there are no lists of how many stitches you should have in each row, to guide those of us who are control freaks and want to fix miscounts before they turn into misaligned centerlines of YOs.

In other words, Teague is a more skilled and confident knitter of this type of shawl than I am--no shock there. To help myself, I decided that I would keep count of the stitches that get knitted between that first YO and the central stitch and 2 YOs of Row 2. The question now becomes: how do I know how many stitches I need to knit at the "K to one st before center stitch" part of row 2?

As you can see, every time you repeat these 2 rows, you've added 6 stitches to the total number on your needles. So every time you return to Row 2, your center stitch will be 3 stitches (6 divided by 2) more from the start of the row. When you arrive at the center stitch, as the pattern says, YO, k center stitch, YO, then you should be knitting the same number of stitches to edge minus 3 (where you will do the last YO) as you knitted between the first YO on this row and the center stitch.

Every time you finish Row 2, you will have the following number of stitches: 3+YO+stitches knitted to center+YO+center knitted stitch+YO+stitches knitted to center+YO+3, which means:
2(stitches knitted to center)+4(YO)+1 knitted central stitch+ 6knitted edge stitches, which means:
2(stitches knitted to center)+11.

To reduce my typing, I am going to say that (stitches knitted to center) is called "H". becauswe I like the letter "H" right now. So Total stitches in a Row 2 after completion of the row=2(H)+11

So Ishbel looks like this, with the numbers filled in:

Row #       H                 Total stitches in row                      
 2              2                      15
 4              5                      21
 6              8                      27
 8             11                     33
10            14                     39
12            17                     45
14            20                     51
16            23                    57
18              26                    63
20              29                    69
22              32                    75
24              35                    81
26              38                    87
28              41                    93
30              44                    99
32              47                    105
34              50                    111
36              53                     117
38              56                     123
40              59                     129
42              62                     135
44              65                     141
46              68                     147
48              71                     153
50              74                     159
52              77                     165
54              80                     171
If you are making the smaller shawl, stop here and repeat Row 1 (173 stitches), then go on to lace chart A.
56              83                     177
58              86                     183
60              89                     189
62              92                     195
64              95                     201
66              98                     207
68              101                   213
70              104                   219
If you are making the larger shawl, stop here and repeat Row 1 (221 stitches), then go on to lace chart A.

Now that wasn't really hard, was it? 


MaryjoO said...

wow. impressive! now to remember to bookmark this for my next Ishbel ... first one still sitting to be blocked ... somewhere LOL

and .. thanks!

Unknown said...

Just working may way through your podcasts!

I'm currently on a shawl binge and ALWAYS create charts like this for may shawls so I know where I am!! I also count out 50 or 100 or 25, whatever makes sense, and put stitch markers in the middle sections of the first and second halves. that way I don't have to keep counting those stitches!!

Cate said...

I am wondering if you wouldn't mind answering a stupid question... I followed your wonderful advice here to keep count on Ishbel, and managed to fix my original "moving the centre stitch marker the wrong way" problem. But. Had an issue months ago when I was knitting and traveling, and taking anti-seasickness drugs on boat messed me up. I'm somewhere around row 92, and I realize that about 3 rows back I moved the stitch marker wrong and went off in a wonky direction. I need to do some tinking or frogging, but need advice on how to move/keep track of the stitch marker that holds the yo/k1/yo part of the pattern. Any thoughts? Thanks so so much. Cate

Wendy said...

OMG! This is EXACTLY what I did and figured out after ripping out the entire stockinette part twice due to errors and incorrect stitch count. I went by the second row count and actually counted my stitches every other row to make sure I was on track. I am now on the last parts of the small size shawl, starting section C. Can't wait to finish so I can wear it! This is my first lace shawl!

Unknown said...

Section B row 7 is frustrating. I can’t get 221 stitches. 8 off. Might work if I skip 1, k one and passo 1 stitch. Please help!