I refuse to surrender! So far.

I continue to do battle for the Grand Duchess. It’s not that bad really, but when I mess up, what a rat’s nest it is figuring out where I went wrong, what I did wrong and undoing the error because of fuzzy mohair. Suddenly, my intention to do just one more row and then go to bed becomes an hour-long project when an error or two is at hand.

This week marks a milestone in Grand Duchess: I have successfully rounded not only Corner 1, but also Corner 2, and now am working on the body of the shawl. Make a mistake here and a row that would’ve taken about 30 minutes to complete suddenly becomes an hour fix-up job, but this doesn’t surprise me a whole lot. I’ve done lace before, although it’s been many years since I did anything of this complexity and size, and that was back when it was my first lace project, the Gibbie Shawl. Here I am, not having knitted the requisite smaller and easier shawls in the book before launching into the grand dame, just making Medallion anyway. Am I a glutton for punishment? Why, yes, yes indeed I am. Look at my other knitting projects: there’s Cabled Coat (a pain to follow the pattern for) and then there’s Bird’s Eye (which has become monotonous). And now Medallion in Orenburg yarn, which would be much easier if I’d just done it in some gossamer-weight merino or something and if the pattern were written with a little more explanation and charting that doesn’t add to confusion with one row being Row 2 on the right side of the shawl, but becoming Row 1 when you get to the left. It does make sense that the rows on the right are numbered ahead of those on the left, but only because of what happens at the beginning of the body, but this adds to confusion when looking at such huge charts. I can’t help but wonder if the first few rows should be numbered differently to accommodate the number shift, and then, once that point is past, the numbers on rest of the shawl (we’re talking hundreds of itty-bitty rows on charts) could be numbered so that the right is the same as the left.

What do I do to get around the fact that I haven’t done either the Diamond Trianglular Shawl or Pine Tree Pallatine Scarf, the introductory patterns it the same book, first? What do I do when I’m not sure about the instructions for Medallion, I go back and study that specific point in the other two patterns, both of which are written with more explanation and more charting than Medallion. It’s crazy, I guess, but I do stuff like this and end-up regretting it later. Hopefully I won’t regret it later this time. But I wanted to do Medallion and I wanted to do it in Orenburg yarn, and it will be a much richer experience for it.

As I knit, I imagine Russian knitters knitting just such a shawl, perhaps a 10-year old girl knitting her first one. I hear the voices of women speaking a language I cannot comprehend, perhaps I even smell a bowl of pelmeni soup with a dollop of sour cream in it as I go. Ah, I wax poetic. These are the things that come to mind when I do anything associated with a cultural tradition, be it making Armenian Easter bread , or Japanese okonomiyaki or sakura mochi, or pasta the way my Italian grandmother did, or French croissant: I hear the language, I see the country (or what I imagine it looks like), and for a moment in time I experience a brief culturel expedition, a mental vacation.

Sorry no pictures now. Sorry if my writing is rough no time for final proof.  Family emergency, check back later.


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