Archive for October 11th, 2013

I’m a Ravelry user and I frequent the forums where I glean information and get a chance to help others have a positive experience with the arts of knitting and crochet. Recently, I came across the fact, backed up by research and statistics by another Raveler, that most Ravelry knitters are making shawls. I found myself pausing a bit over that. With the plethora of sweaters and types of sweaters available to knit, and given the weather has finally turned into something more recognizable as Autumn, why are shawls polling so high?

Let me stop a moment to say I am not anti-shawl. I have made 15 of them and each one sees lots of wear. I have shawls for Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. With my new “normal” (post-mastectomy) life my body temperature fluctuates wildly from feeling like being in the Arctic in shorts and a tee shirt to being at the Equator dressed in full blizzard apparel. My shawls come in handy to off set these extremes. Too cold, throw on the shawl, too hot, remove it. But as I roamed the Ravelry forums last night it dawned on me that despite their overwhelming project popularity, I see very few exasperated appeals for help in knitting or crocheting them. Whereas for sweaters, the SOS calls bloom like algea on a pond in warm weather. Socks, which only account for 4% of the projects, also have a disproportionately high volume of SOS requests.

What gives? Many shawl patterns have intricate lace work, or unique construction, some depend heavily on short-rows. So it can’t be that they are easier to knit. I have first hand experience with knitting lace patterns over 100 plus stitches and can say it is easy to get lost in the pattern repeats. Does the lack of SOS calls mean most are being good little knitters diligently using lifelines? I think not. As a nonconformist knitter, I think I have a lot of company. Knitting intricate lace work without a lifeline is the equivalent of hang gliding through the Grand Canyon. However, ripping back seven or eight times takes the thrill out of the glide and I end up using a lifeline. I resent it, but I use it.

The completely unscientific, fact-less conclusion I came to regarding the inordinate amount of shawl patterns vs sweater patterns being knitted with lack of corresponding amounts of SOS calls is shawl length and width can be fudged. Gauge is not crucial. The knitter can increase or decrease the repeats to meet individual length and width requirements easily. Little if any math is needed on the knitter’s part. The knitter can literally eyeball the size and adjust it without measuring tape. I don’t know what this says about knitters and the direction in which knitting is heading, so I don’t know why I am slightly disturbed by it. But I am.

On a lighter note, the leaves are finally starting to fall from the trees, much to Yarn Rascal’s sheer delight. This is his first time experiencing Autumn. If a leaf falls or skitters across the ground in the wind he chases after it, bouncing with delight. The problem is leaves don’t fall or blow in the wind one by one. They usually do it in bunches and in many different spots around the yard at one time. So the question is will Yarn Rascal survive Autumn without losing his mind? At the moment it doesn’t look good.

Have a good weekend.

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