The Land Rover Owners Ex Wife

……becoming me again

Very lacy sweater in Scheepjeswol Sunkissed

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This sweater will definitely need blocking to open up the lacework!

This sweater will definitely need blocking to open up the lace work!

I firmly believe that in every knitter or crocheters life there is at least one (and probably more) project that has been abandoned, cast aside, shut away in a dark corner, never again to see the light of day because for some reason, whether it be down to the pattern itself or the yarn used, the crafter hasn’t been able to get on with it, hasn’t enjoyed working on it and so has relegated it to their projects drawer, box, shelf, probably with the intention of revisiting it after a short rest but ultimately not being able to get beyond the feelings the project originally generated, thus resulting in said project continuing to languish unfinished for forever more. If it was the pattern that caused the issues, then there is a chance that the piece may be frogged back and the yarn used again but if the yarn is the problem ………

I had such a piece in my project drawer for a few years, a jacket for an 18 month old baby. In this case it was the yarn that was at fault. It felt okay in its’ ball state but once I’d started working with it, well it changed, and somehow or other the softness that I had so admired in its’ en masse condition, had transformed into an irritatingly harsh material, as it passed through my fingers. Oddly enough, it seemed to reassert its’ softness to some degree, as the back section grew but it never quite felt the same as it did as a ball. I persevered for as long as I could but when picking up the needles became a chore rather than a relaxation technique, I decided to admit defeat and stowed the work away, needles and all, thinking that I’d try again in a week or so …….. 6 years later, I removed the needles and the yarn was put to use in the garden.

Lacy Pink Sweater Three weeks ago, I thought I’d found another such project but this time it was the pattern and not the yarn that was at fault!

With Little Mudlets’ jumper dress completed, I reached for my next project which was a lacy sweater by Bergere de France. Bergere patterns are clearly graded for the skill level required, so the crafter can make a decision as to whether or not they feel that they have the knowledge, experience and skill level to tackle and complete the piece. Pattern number 42719 is clearly labelled as ‘Expert’ but having looked at the detail on the sweater I was confident that this design was well within my comfort zone ……..

………. and had this been an English pattern leaflet, then I think I probably would have been okay from day one but it wasn’t! No! The clue is in the name of the company who had produced the pattern – this pattern was French and having googled French knitting patterns, I came across one article (I forget where abouts it was now) where it stated that unlike English patterns, French patterns tend to leave more up to the imagination of the knitter – you don’t say!

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t written in French but unlike an English pattern leaflet where every stitch and repeat would have been detailed in a row by row written pattern panel guide, this pattern wasn’t! Instead there was a list of abbreviations, a brief description of each of the different pattern sections, tension and gauge and then the ‘to make’ instructions began and read as follows:

Expert level obviously means barely any written instructions but lots of illustration!!

Expert level obviously means barely any written instructions but lots of illustration!!

Using 3.0 mm needles cast on (x) number of stitches, obviously depending on what size you’re working in, and work as foll:

  • 2 sts St-St
  • (x) sts in Lace St
  • 86 sts in Patt St foll chart
  • (x) sts in Lace st (the first three and last size from stitch 3 of the chart and the fourth size from stitch 1)
  • 2 sts St-St.”

That’s it! Instead of the easy to follow stitch by stitch, row by row, detail I have been used to my entire crafting life, there were three charts to follow, using the instructions above.

They do say that variety is the spice of life and so I cast on the stitches for the first size and began.

It doesn’t usually take me long to get the gist of a pattern and by the time I’ve worked one repeat of a pattern panel, I can usually work without having the pattern in front of me but this was different. The lace didn’t seem to flow and I struggled to get my head around the chart markings and its’ key and then 12 rows in, the main chart changed and the two sections of pattern swapped places, requiring the 16 stitches of one section to be worked over what had been the 16 stitches of the other section, for the next 12 rows before swapping back again and so on and so forth.

Ploughing on and still struggling with the flow of the pattern sections, I began the first row of the second round of 12 rows. Pausing at about row 8 of the second set of 12, to look over the pattern that was emerging, I realised that something was wrong. The pattern didn’t look right and to my dismay, I realised that I had misread part of the chart at about row 3 of the FIRST section of 12 and so everything else that followed now looked wrong. The intricacy of the lace work meant that trying to successfully frog back 17 rows proved impossible, not to mention time-consuming and so I eventually opted to pull back the entire work and cast on again ……… and again ……… and again!!!

Yes dear friends, in total I pulled back and cast on the work 3 times!!!!!!

Close up of the main chart

Close up of the main chart

I was fast losing the will to live and when, noticing my frustration, Middle Mudlet told me that I could choose a different pattern for her if that helped, I admit to being tempted to do just that. But here’s the rub, Middle Mudlet who is, remember, my die-hard tomboy, had chosen this very feminine sweater and the very pink yarn I was using! I was determined that it wasn’t going to defeat me but when some 26 rows in I realised that I had, once again, made a mistake that involved the pulling back of about 10 rows, I very nearly threw the whole lot in the bin!!!!

What was it with this pattern?

Why couldn’t I get it?

And so I carefully pulled it back to the mistake, corrected the error and then put the work in my work bag ……. and there it stayed for 10 days or so, as I got on with other, none knitting related things. I hadn’t given up, I was just taking a break and it worked. I’ve now been working on the back section, a couple of rows at a time, for the last week and whilst it was initially a slow process, as I painstakingly made sure that each section of each row was correct before I moved on to the next, I am pleased and very relieved to say that the pattern has finally taken hold in my head and except for the occasional check to ensure that I’m still correct, the pattern leaflet has been put to one side as I work towards the armhole decreases which will be at row 126.

Now that’s what I really like about the Bergere patterns because, as with the Bergere pattern I used for my lace top (intermediate grade with more detailed written instructions), the sizes are colour coded so you can see at a glance information pertinent to the size you’re working in and as well as the length in inches/centimetres to any given point, for example the armhole decreases, the number of rows that should have been worked by the time you get to that length is also given and I am currently on row 86 of 126!



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