Balm to the Soul Knitalong Tips

The Balm to the Soul Knitalong got off to a whiz-bang start yesterday, with knitters casting on in beautiful yarns from Cascade 220 to Malabrigo. Many knitters successfully found stash yarn for the project, making it particularly satisfying…

If you’re knitting the shawl, or thinking about it, here are the construction and techniques tips so far:

The Balm to the Soul Shawlette is a Double Triangle shawl. That means that you’re going to be increasing in the middle (called the spine) and on the edges (borders) as we go along, creating a large triangle that’s actually made of two smaller triangles.
Spiroshawl1 (2).jpg

It seems funny, but when we cast on, we’re starting at the middle of the long, flat edge of the triangle, and the increases will shape it into the two triangles as we go.

The shawl starts with a good long Stockinette portion, so you can get used to the increase pattern before you do anything fancy.

You’ll be increasing along each side (border) of the shawl and at the midpoint (spine) every Right Side row. For the first 44 rows, on the Wrong Sides, you just work in Stockinette stitch, which means you get to purl every stitch on that row.

A very important note: because you’re using yarnover increases that make the shawl bigger (not paired with decreases) you will be actually adding stitches at the sides and midpoint of the shawl every right side row. This means that, if you use regular stitch markers, they will get moved away from their target stitch every time you increase. This can be VERY confusing.

It is sometimes hard to see the midpoint stitches among all the purled stitches on the Wrong Side, so I recommend using a coilless safety pin or latching marker and attaching it to the midpoint stitch. Just move it every few rows so you can tell which stitch is the midpoint. You’ll work a YO on either side of this marked midpoint stitch on the Right Side of your work, and purl the stitches on either side of it on the Wrong Side.

This is no big deal in the Stockinette section, because you’re purling everything on the back side already, but when you get to the texture stitches, you’ll continue to work the Spine and Border stitches in Stockinette, so you’ll want to be able to see the midpoint stitch. In the texture sections, you’ll work seed or garter stitch for all of the shawl body stitches, then purl the three Spine stitches and two Border Stitches on the Wrong Side of the work.

The new, updated version of the pattern contains a lot more information than the original, including many more line-by-line instructions and stitch counts. It also has expanded construction and techniques notes for all of the sections of the shawl.

If you’re not very familiar with following a pattern, it’s very important to read all of the Notes in the Pattern Notes section first, so you’re ready to work the instructions when you get there. It’s also important to know that the line-by-line instructions for the basic Crest of the Wave lace pattern are in the Pattern Notes, so you’ll need to turn back to that page for written instructions if you’re not comfortable reading a chart.

The one tricky section in the shawl is the Lace section, because you have to follow the written instructions for each line, and at the same time follow the lace chart. The line-by-line instructions tell you how to work the stitches on either side of the lace chart, which is repeated six-and-a-half times. But don’t worry! By the time you get to the lace chart, you’ll be familiar with the shawl construction and will do just fine.

This is where the shawl can get tricky if you’re new to lace, or new to the idea of a double triangle, but no worries! You can totally do this.
The most important thing to remember is that the shawl is increasing by four stitches every right side row, which means one stitch on each side of the lace pattern every RS row. But the lace pattern stays the same! The number of stitches in the lace pattern does not change as the shawl gets bigger. This means that you will be adding stitches on either side of your lace pattern, but they won’t be part of the lace pattern, they’ll be worked in Stockinette Stitch. You’ll start with 3 stitches on one side of your lace panel and 2 on the other, and the next RS row, you’ll have 4 and 3, then next 5 and 4, etc. You get little Stockinette Stitch triangles on either side of your lace pattern, and that’s how it’s supposed to look. 🙂
Here’s a chart showing how that happens. This just shows one lace repeat, and has it starting with one stitch on each side (in blue).
lace with increases.jpeg

The other thing to know about the lace pattern is that you’ll be working half of the lace pattern just before the stockinette stitches on either side of the spine. Instead of 4 yarnovers and 4 matching decreases, you’ll only have two on each side. These are mirrored so that you have yarnovers and k2tog on the first side and yarnovers and ssk on the second side, so they look symmetrical. It’s just the same as for the regular lace repeat, only you stop in the middle!
Here’s a photo of the lace pattern, St st triangle and spine where they all meet up.
rectangular better.jpg

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! By a miracle of sports scheduling, today is game-free, so we can do whatever looks fun in the 90-degree temps. Water, popsicles and/or ice cream will be involved…


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