Sometimes simple is the hardest thing of all

crooked rae shawlI have a really embarrassing confession to make: I am being defeated by a simple garter-stitch triangle. This is a shawl I started for my beloved sister back in December, hoping to have it done in time for Christmas. It is such a simple thing: knit from tip to tip, with an increase at the beginning of every other ridge (switching to a decrease once you get to the center point). A child could do it. I apparently cannot.

Something about knitting flat at this gauge — worsted on 7s — makes my wrists hurt, so I can only work on this for an hour or so at a time before switching to something else, which means I don’t reach for it very often and then I lose the rhythm of it. So we are not friends, this shawl and me, just passing acquaintances. I keep a stitch marker in an increase row so I can always count the ridges to see whether I should be increasing or not. But somehow, in the spottiness, I still don’t get it right. So the angle of my triangle is jagged. I imagine I could just carry on and fix it in blocking, but then would she have to dry-clean it forever to keep the shape? The whole idea here was to knit something Florida-appropriate for her, which is kind of a tall order. The yarn is Tahki Coast, a nice light cotton-wool blend. The color, Caribbean, is perfect. The simplicity, shape and scale of the shawl are such that she could wear it out to a nice dinner on a cool evening or throw it in her tote bag for long days out on the boat or bundle it up scarf-style when visiting colder climes, which is exactly what I want for her. Low-maintenance, go-anywhere, look great doing it.

I took it on our Mexico trip thinking I’d finally get somewhere with it, and was dejected when I laid it out on the hotel bed and saw that it had gone jagged again. (I’ve ripped it out multiple times before and can’t bear to do it again.) What is my problem?

WIPs on display

knitting WIPs on shelf

I’m very happy to have gotten my works-in-progress count down to a mere four, but I would like it to be smaller. Not least because I really want these four things to exist and be worn. So I’ve decided rather than having WIPs tucked away in project bags in a bin in the cabinet, they’ll reside on the shelves, in the open, where I can’t avoid seeing them. This should prevent me from starting (too many) new things while others go unattended, both because I won’t be able to stand seeing them clutter up the Great Wall of Books and because it’s very sunny in my studio — all skylights all the time — which can’t be good for the yarn. We’ll see how this works, but meanwhile I’d like to know how you all manage your WIPs (knitting or otherwise). Do you have any rules or limits? Special strategies? Talk to me.