Starting Charlotte

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As I mentioned last week, the additional Koigu I'd ordered to choose from for my first Charlotte's Web shawl arrived last week. I was torn between two colorways for this one (which is to be a gift), so I ordered yarns in both. After much debating and playing with various colors, M. and I finally picked out the five to use for this first shawl. It's going to be really beautiful. Unfortunately, I can't show you the colors because the recipient (my Mom) also reads my blog. She knows I'm making it (or she probably assumed I would since she asked), so I'm not giving anything away by blogging about the process. But I don't want to show the colors and ruin the surprise. Black and white will have to do for now - and will add extra suspense to the project.



The pattern arrived with the yarn, so I got my first look at what I was getting myself into. I admit it took me a while to wrap my mind around the pattern. What confused me most was which color was on the bottom. After reading it many times, I thought I had it. But I also thought, having never worked lace or made a shawl before, that I was starting at the bottom of the shawl (at the apex of the triangular shape), partly because you start the pattern with 7 stitches, so somehow my head was equating that with the bottom point.

So, I picked out my colors accordingly and got started. About 15 rows in, I realized I'd lost a stitch (or forgotten a yarnover). At that point, I was trying to follow the "written" pattern rather than the chart. The pattern has the first handful of rows written out stitch for stitch, and I was trying to follow along that way. I kept losing my place, however, and my eyes kept straying. It's no wonder I lost or forgot a stitch. Those first rows went quickly though (they start with only 7 stitches), so it wasn't a big deal to pull them out and plan to start over.

What happened when I pulled them out, however, is that it was clear that the starting point was not the bottom of the shawl as I'd assumed. Instead, it's the top. Because that is the smallest section of color when you look at a finished Charlotte's Web, it does make sense, and of course you have to work "out" rather than in, and, yes, in my initial confusion, I had noted that there are no decreases, so you couldn't be working bottom up. I was just being obtuse, I guess, and looking at the photograph was interfering with my brain's understanding of the construction.

But watching the triangle flop into place after the stitches were free of the needle, it was clear which end was up, and I couls see how the color bands would arc around the row already completed forming the nice triangular bands of color that make Charlotte Charlotte.

So, my colors had to be reversed, meaning I had to roll the yarn I'd pegged as number 5 and start with it instead of number 1. Messing up at row 15 turned out to be a fruitful and fortunate mistake.

I got started again, and once more I had to rip out after about 15 rows. I'd been working on it in the car on a rare trip when I wasn't the driver, and I'd again lost or forgotten a stitch.

So, out it came again.

Things went more smoothly after that - meaning I was more careful!

The first 26 rows are in the first color, and those went easily and quickly. I switched over to using the chart. I was a little wary of that since I don't have a lot of chart-reading experience. But it's very easy, and now I can't imagine reading and following the "written" directions again!

The next 26 rows use two colors, and those also went smoothly. I was, however, scrambling to find markers. Well, to find small markers, specifically. I found a ton of larger markers. Why I have so many big ones, I don't know, but every bag and pouch I checked turned up large ones. But I couldn't find any small ones. I've been searching for days now and just making do with the larger ones. In my head I could picture the small boxes of red and blue marker rings I used to buy. Now I mostly have organge and lime safety-pin style ones, but they all seem to be bigger.

So, I worked along with the too-big markers, planning every day to make it to the store to pick up some smaller ones. (I finally found some of the missing small ones last night. Not enough, but enough for now.)

I threaded in a life-line, as recommended on many sites I checked, and that worked well, too, except a few rows later I realized I'd caught every marker in the thread! When I moved my life-line up later, the same thing happened again.

Yeah, I was running the needle through the marker and just not thinking through that the marker was then "caught." Last night, the little one fell asleep in my lap and I got to work 6 rows and moved the life-line up just as his power nap was ending. This time, I went around the markers, so they should be free and clear.

So far, I love the pattern. The lace is not difficult, and the chart reading is going like a breeze now that I'm 50 rows into it and familiar with what is happening with the lace panels, how the repeats go, and so on. The rows are, of course, getting longer now though!

Stay tuned for more black-and-white photos!

1 Comment

Congrats on getting your Charlotte started! It's a great pattern and after the initial pains (I think everyone has ripped their Charlotte beginnings A MINIMUM of once!) it really flies. And working with the Koigu,... yum! Enjoy!

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