A Matter of Scope

Okay– so I had a fasciitis flare up, which means my keyboard time went WAY down this weekend–and my knitting in front of the TV time went WAY up. Wasn’t fun for the kids– lots of waiting on mom–but I finished my shawl (modeled by a reluctant Squish here) and I figured out the problem with the pattern.

Yes–I fucked up.

But I didn’t fuck up what we all thought I fucked up.

This, dear knitters, was not a problem with me following the chart–it was a problem with gauge.

For those who don’t knit–I used needles too big for the pattern, so the lace pattern doesn’t look like a series of fountaining arches, it looks like a series of drunken spiderwebs. As Mate put it, the holes are too big.

I couldn’t tell you why this makes me feel better, except it’s that I chose the large gauge on purpose.

I’m a big girl, I wanted the shawl to be a bit bigger than it was shown on the petit model, so I used slightly bigger needles so the finished product would wrap around my shoulders. I could have added rows instead, but as it was, I ran out of the white/purple speckled yarn before I got to the edging at the end, so I had to substitute purple instead, and I didn’t want to run out of either of these hand-painted skeins mid-row.  I didn’t make the connection that the bigger needle–coupled with my tendency to knit big when I’m really cooking–would throw off the gauge so much I couldn’t recognize the lace.

When I first recognized it looked different, I thought it meant I couldn’t read the lace chart–and for some reason THAT pricks my knitterly pride more than a gauge accident. Gauge is a tricky, finicky business, and even experts get caught out flat footed, particularly when modifying a pattern.

And as a writer, this is the type of error I see all the time in finished works and have to work to avoid in my own. It’s an error of scope. It’s the equivalent of trying to make String Boys into a Dreamspun Desire, or The Virgin Manny into a 100K epic. So far, the most I’ve ever stretched a story is a couple of K, in order to make it a paperback (I lurve my paperbacks)–I’ve never stretched a story out so much you can’t see the pattern.

I’ve never compressed one so much you can’t see it either.

As a shawl, it’s serviceable, it’s pretty, and (as the kids noted) it’s in Amy Lane branded colors, so I’m taking it to NYC.

As a knitting lesson, it’s invaluable. I’ll be talking about it for a long time.

As a writing lesson? Well, I’m pretty sure I”ll find a way to work it into my Fiction Haiku presentations. My brain has a way of doing that 😉

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