I am in the process of puzzling out a pattern from this season's Rowan Magazine (#47) for a knitter, the "Blithe" jacket, made in Rowan Summer Tweed. The fabric is quite lovely -- an open weave waffle pattern. The bottom edge features a gentle scallop achieved by slipping every 4th stitch on two consecutive rows. After that, the fun begins. The lace is charted out. The dilemma was this: the stitch count seemed to change after each pattern row -- not necessarily a lace knitting oddity to have stitch numbers fluctuate, but not in this case. Here's the verdict: there's good news and bad news. Good news is the pattern works. Bad news is....well, the pattern works. A number of factors make this particular lace pattern such a jealous lover. First off, it's not a talkie pattern, that is, if you let your focus wane just for a bit, gremlins can creep in. You'll know there's a gremlin if, in the final stitches, something's not kosher. The chart is Gospel. If your final stitches are not canonical, there's heresy in afoot. Go back and account for each of the stitches in the row and exorcise the demons. Since Blithe is jealous, there's no fudging or "making it work." Blithe, you see, is a binary lover: it's either her way or the highway. No in-betweens, no compromises. Also, unless you're making the largest size, you will have to do a bit of analysis. Rowan patterns are not only beautiful, clever, and utterly gorgeous and fabulous, they also make you do a bit of work (which is worth it in the end, really). In the pattern informational section at the start, there is a statement that the chart might need to be modified regarding increases and decreases and such and so forth. A bit vague, that. There's also a similar paragraph in the general information section of the magazine. What these statements mean is this: if there's an increase or a decrease that exist in a larger size (outside the portion of the chart that maps out the pattern for the size you're working), you must modify the accompanying inc/dec in order to keep the stitch count correct. Huh? Yeah. Remember that all knitted lace is just a series of decreases with accompanying increases (yarn over's). Whatever you take away (decrease) you must give back (increase). Every SSK, K2tog, etc. will have a cooresponding yarn over. The chart is mapped out for the largest size. Say you're making a size L, and an increase in size XL might have it's yarn over in the portion of the chart for size L, in which case, the yarn over doesn't jive with any increases in the stiches you have. if you make this yarn over, you'll end up with an extra stitch. In order to avoid that, just knit the stitch in the chart block for the yarn over you don't need. In order to determine what end stitches are valid for the size you're making, you will have to do this: take out your magnifying glass and account for each increase and decrease pair. Whatever edge stitches have no matching opposite operations (increase/decrease) are just knits.
Now, second off: If you are working this pattern in the recommended yarn (Rown Summer Tweed), I recommend that you use Addi turbo needles. Not because they're German and spiffy, and not because they come in a zip lock pouch, but because the slick nickel finish allows the Summer Tweed to move freely along the needles. I've worked Summer Tweed on the old metal needles as well as on wood and bamboo. The silk/cotton blend of the Summer Tweed tends to get stuck on needles without the slick gliding finish. And especially in this pattern where you have K3tog's, it's advisable that your stitches can move around some on the needles. Otherwise, you're in for a tough ride, and might need a hammer and wedge to get your working needle up through all those stitches. Also, this pattern features the excitement and adventure of double yarn overs. On the purl side, the doubles might bunch together. Pay attention not to purl these babies together or to purl one while mistakingly allowing the second to slip away. Be aware where these double things are. The same goes for the pattern rows. If you need a K3tog, be sure you're working 3 stitches and not two. My general recommendation is this: if you like the jacket, knit it! Don't be frightened of it, HOWEVER, as I said, the piece is a jealous lover and demands your undivided attention. It's just needy lace, and that's that. But once she's on your good side, things do get easier in dealing with her.