working with elizabeth

you may recall that little work-in-progress called the shetland project. i thought it was time for an update, as i work my way through the first item: elizabeth  zimmerman’s stonington shawl. here is where it is up to:

it has suffered one major frogging so far, because i kept forgetting where to put the yarn overs. on one side, they go AFTER the k2tog, on the other side, they go BEFORE the ssk. if i am not concentrating, i can, and do, easily get that wrong. this is despite the fact that i am working with a cheats chart. this being an EZ pattern, originally from this book:

it comes with those famous pithy directions:

in this version, you just knit a garter stitch square. the pattern has been adapted, editted and added to by knitters magazine, and is published in their scarves and shawls book, and thankfully, it contains a little more detail:

one detail is the addition of the eyelets in the garter stitch square, hence the chart, and i think they are a nice touch. even though all i am doing is making simple concentric squares, i need to glance at the chart at the beginning of each repeat, just to make sure, and this is where EZ and i part ways. i love her pithy directions, but i also hate them, because while i understand them in principle i struggle with them in practice. there is much i admire about EZ’s approach to knitting, given that her underlying principle is ‘there are no knitting police’, and i think there is a lot of potential for Growth as a Knitter in her approach to things. she assumes that we have some idea about how knitting works and are smart enough to figure out what to do as we go along. sometimes, this is true, and sometimes its not. sometimes i love the sense of freedom she promises and there are other times i want to pull my hair out and beg her please to just give me an actual stitch count for something!!

for the most part though, if i just breath, and think about it carefully, i do understand what shes saying. knitting the test swatch for this shawl certainly helped, and i am confident about what i am doing and how i will get from one part to the next. what i am not so confident about is how much yarn to use. my gauge swatch put my yarn about halfway between shetland lace and jumper weight (well der, it is a 3 ply), but required amounts are in metres, and i only have grams. because there is no required stitch count, no need to count rows, technically, it doesnt matter how big i make the center square. the knitters magazine ‘cheat’ pattern suggests 8 repeats of the chart before starting to decrease down to 2 stitches again, and i am on the 8th repeat now, but think it would like it to be bigger. my problem is estimating how much yarn i will use.

for example, i have used 45 grams to get to the middle of the square.

i assume it will take me another 45 to go back the other side, and i have 74g left on this one ball.

then i have to do four sides (which involve increases to make corners) and then add a lace border (just a simple one). but do i have enough yarn for all that, if i keep making the square bigger?

im pretty sure even mrs zimmerman wouldnt proceed until she could figure that one out! but how would i know? anyone?

or can i just trust my instincts and go one or two more?

k xx


About DrK

researcher, knitter, dog lover View all posts by DrK

15 responses to “working with elizabeth

  • Rose Red

    Hard to know re yarn…I think most 4ply yarns have about 175m per 50gm. So you could guestimate that 3ply is about 200m/50g, if that helps…

  • bellsknits

    RoseRed’s good on that stuff. I’d follow what she says.

    i do hope you’re bringing this to Bendigo with you. I want to sit down and have a good look and feel and think and that will help enjoy (even more!) watching this all unfold.

    You’ve got me itching to look for something to do wtih my white 3ply. I think I need to get thinking.

  • 2paw

    Oh it looks so delicate and lovely. I am no help with knowing how much the border will take!!!

  • some knitting gal


  • M-H

    Lots of ways to work this out. One would be to measure off ten or twenty metres of the yarn and weigh it – or weigh out 10 grams and measure it.
    If you draw a diagram of what you’re going to do with measurements on it you should be able to use simple arithmetic to work out how many square cms the edging is (google ‘area of a rhombus’, apply that to the measurements of one side and multiply it by 4), and what that will be as a proportion of the main part of the shawl. You know the main part uses 90gm, so you should be able to see if the edging is going to be possible. The lace is a bit trickier, but lace uses less yarn than garter stitch, so it you consider it as part of the edging you should be covered.

  • gidgetknits

    Math… shudders. But fingers crossed! And I know what you mean about Elizabeth Zimmerman. I was excited to get the book, but then started furrowing my brow a bit…

  • travellersyarn

    At one stage in my life I might have been able to help you with a formula – maybe if you do something involving the area the square thus far? Sorry, have just had a glass of champagne, and am not going to really be able to help.

    I think that the whole point of Zimmermann is that she makes you grow as a knitter. Not much use when you feel that your brain has expanded enough for the day!

  • donna lee

    I am not a Zimmerman fan. She is not definite enough for my beginnerish skills. I need more direction than she provides. (I don’t trust my skills enough to do without an occasional stitch count!)

    Your shawl-in-progress looks so soft. I kept wanting to touch it but the screen isn’t the same.

  • Leonie

    You have my sympathy on your calculations. Sounds like M-H has some great ideas to help you. I hope it all works out for you nicely.

  • amy

    I think we need to stage an intervention to get Donna Lee to stop referring to her skills as “beginnerish.” She’s too modest!

    Can’t help with the yarn amounts. EZ’s always a good read and inspiration, though, even if the patterns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. (Me, personally, I think the baby surprise jacket is godawful ugly. Shhh! Heresy, I know.)

  • Annie

    I would go with your instincts….they will mostly get you by. Have a great time in Bendigo.

  • Giselle

    Ooh maths, that’s my kind of thing!
    Let’s see: do you think the finished measurement will be pretty much exactly twice the width of your square?
    If yes: you will need three times as much wool again as for your centre square. So if you used 90 grams, the outer ‘ring’ will need 270g. 90 + 270 makes 360 grams but I don’t know if you have only 275 grams to play with? I wouldn’t do another repeat and then see if you can make the ‘ring’ around it less wide than half the square’s measurement.
    I hope that helps!

  • Nebraska Knitter

    I finally finished a Stonyington Shawl. If I made another, I would not do the eyelet rows. I had a terrible time keeping them straight as I couldn’t think of anyway to mark the repeats. I ripped the section out more times than I care to think about. I finally decided it was a process (learning) project and forged ahead leaving some mistakes in the project. Good luck. Sounds as if others have some ideas about the math.

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