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So I have this project that I actually input on Ravelry. It’s a shawl. I started it almost a year ago and had thought I’d finish it by SOAR last year, but… well, didn’t.

So let’s just step through things a bit here.

3 July 2007:

4 July 2007:

5 July 2007:

6 July 2007:

I mean, so far, progress looks fine, right? And it keeps looking fine. Here’s 8 July 2007:

It’s 2 feet across! And even bigger by 9 July 2007, when I took it outside for photos to see if you could see the beads it’s acquired:

11 July 2007, with the help, who helped the ball of yarn too much:

But see the beads?

By 15 July, I was bitching and moaning about rows taking 15-20 minutes:

But by 25 July, I was clearly distracted and doing other stuff:

But then on 7 September, I said it was nearing completion. And in fact it was. That’s why I thought I’d have it done for SOAR. But that didn’t happen.

And then, honestly… I found I was enraged by the stupid shawl, staring at me from a wadded-up pile of beaded merino-tencel and a ball of rewound yarn and a little container of beads and an itty bitty crochet hook, mocking me for not just finishing it. I couldn’t bring myself to pick it up and spent the hour at a stretch it had grown to needing for EACH STUPID ROW with 800 zillion beads on it for the last repeat. It wintered on my desk, glaring at me and mocking my lack of stick-to-it-ive-ness. I know I flipped it off a few times. I even gave it the two-handed flip-off at least once. I really don’t understand why that wasn’t enough to teach it what’s what and go F itself (where F stands, in this case, for “finish”), but it didn’t.

About a month ago I moved it to the table by the slothing chair, where the Pagoda shawl rests in that one photo above, near kitten and beer. Surely no shawl could languish long there unfinished; perhaps my desk was just not the right place, as I never have an hour at a time free (or free-ish) when I’m at my desk. And that move has helped. On several occasions since then, I have forced myself to work on the thing. About an hour plus a few minutes for each beaded knit row; 30-60 minutes for a purl row, depending on how densely beaded the preceding knit row was.

Allow me to show you, briefly, the sight which has enraged me so with its mockery lo these long months.

By last night, I’d reached the point where I said — and yes, I said it, out loud, multiple times, to the whole family — “I hate this stupid project! I’m so sick of this! I was sick of this last fall! Well I’m forcing myself to finish it! I can’t have a beer till I get to the stopping point I’ve set for the night! No beer till I finish this row! I’m half an hour into the row and I want a beer but I can’t have one! I hate this shawl! Watch, I’ll finish it and it’ll be a huge piece of crap. Man, I want a beer…”

When I got to the end of the row, the manchild stopped building things with K’Nex, and ran to the fridge and returned with a beer. Now that’s a good kid.

So now I’m on the horns of a dilemma: how to handle the beaded cast-off I have envisioned.

See, those leaves each need a bead at the tip there. The beads are like, uh, they’re like drops of dew. Falling of this cheesy, annoying, pissing-me-off-to-no-end stupid project from hell which is probably going to be total crap when I’m done, because even though really, it’s okay right now, I’m bound to thoroughly screw up the beaded cast-off somehow. You know, once I’ve figured out what I think I mean by “beaded cast off” in the first place.

Maybe I should put a fringey tassel with beads on it at each leafpoint.

When I block it, are the leaves going to be the only points, or will there be intermediate points in the dead space between?

What if I did some sort of crochet chain with beads in it for a cast-off, ala Marianne Kinzel except, as noted, with beads?

Of course, my wiseacre alter ego (okay, that’s my real ego, not the alter ego) is sitting in the back of my mind saying, “What if I threw this across the room and left it there another year?”


I have leftover yarn. I could do whatever the heck I want.

But no, I can’t leave it unfinished for another year, tempting as it is. I’d never be able to look myself in the eye knowing I’d left it with nothing needing to be done except binding off.

Maybe a sewn bind-off. With a knotted fringe with beads on it. Nah, that would look stupid.

So, yeah, this is the dilemma. I can’t decide what to do. Yet tonight, when my work day is over and I sit in the slothing chair, there the project will be, demanding that I finish it. And finish it I must. I want to see how it came out, I think I want to wear it, I want to be blocking it… but most of all, you know, I just need closure with this project (and then to not look at a bead again for a while).

So throw me a bone, O loyal readers. Speak to me of bind-offs and send me some moral support and tell me I’ll make it. Make fun of me if you must, and manipulate me into finishing the thing one way or another by forcing me to channel my rage into a spurt of amazing finishing energy. Light a candle for me in prayer that the shawl won’t be awful. Amuse me with a funny story of your own vicious beaded project like this. Something! Help me not succumb to my baser instincts and throw this back in the UFO pile hoping it’ll solve itself.

P.S. Don’t tell my dad I haven’t finished this yet. He’d never let me live it down.

44 thoughts on “Dilemma

  1. I think I just heard that shawl say something rude about yo’ mama. You better go kick its butt!
    (Did that help?)
    Seriously, what is it about finishing things that’s so hard? Every baby blanket I’ve ever made, it’s been a big freak-out to try to get the blanket done before the baby is born, and I make it or come close, but then it sits around for weeks waiting to have the ends woven in or some such nonsense.
    I can’t offer any brilliant knitterly advice on the bind-off, although I do like the crochet chain with beads idea. In any event, the shawl will be gorgeous. It already is. Just finish it!

  2. I can’t help you with bind-offs, I’m afraid, but I send empathy all the same! A couple of years ago I had a project that made me feel similar loathing, to the point of turning me off knitting for a while afterward, and I wanted to let you know that once it was done, I *was* able to forgive it, and I do wear it. There is hope!

    And the pleasure of finally having the thing Done was huge. You can do it!

  3. How about one beer per bead? ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. This is why I will never do a shawl that starts at the point and gets bigger. I will NEVER EVER FINISH IT. ‘Cause, yanno, if I have to start with three sts and then increase WITH BEADS and PATTERN and keep going until it’s big enough to not only sit on my shoulders, but ALSO get around the bed pillow I carry around on my torso, I would probably hang myself with the remaining yarn.

    No words of wisdom, sorry–just sympathy. Or empathy. Or something.

    Have you gotten my emails? I REALLY want to know if you got my last one.

  5. It’s lovely, if that’s any consolation. I hope that you find the strength to bend it to your will, and that I’ll maybe get the chance to see it at this year’s SOAR.

  6. That’s some gorgeous handspun though. ๐Ÿ™‚ How does one get it so very fine…?

    The shawl’s very beautiful. I’m sure you’ll forgive it once you’ve put it around your shoulders.

  7. You’ve gotta suck it up, girl. Get it finished. Design a simple edging with one bead per leaf point, set a reasonable time limit for yourself (like Friday – because Fridays always seem so far away on Mondays), and get that bad boy finished. I know you can!!! You’ve done more more complicated projects!

    Just to play dirty – what would Nilda say?

  8. I think you’re certain enough that it isn’t going to be a “huge pile of crap”. It looks good and whatever edge you pick it will still look good when you’re done. The best bind off for this is the one that gets it finished never mind whether “this” one is in some way better than “that” one.

    Hopefully you’re in full swing by now – if it were me I’d have let loose with the crochet hook and added the bead whilst catching three stitches at the point of the leaf. What I’d have done with the rest I haven’t a clue. I’ll come back and see what you came up with, no doubt you’re half way though it already.

  9. If it were me, I’d figure out a bind-off that would be really quick and that would lie flat. I would, for the moment, IGNORE the beads needed at the tips of tie leaves.

    Once I had the whole thing bound off, I might thread beads in some way I couldn’t devise without doing it onto yarn so that they extended DOWN from each leaf point, beyond the bind-off of the scarf . . . more than one bead, there’d be a needle involved and not crochet hooks, maybe a slightly weightier bead at the end, not too long a string of beads so it wouldn’t look silly (like it wanted to be a fringe and wasn’t), but something that would give just a bit of unexpected swing and definitely a touch of extra weight at the points of the leaves along the edges of the shawl.

    But that’s me. I’d bail as fast as I could, and then figure out a way to make it look like I meant to. Which, by the time I got done, I would have.

    These types of solutions usually work out better for me than I have any reason to expect.

  10. er, shawl, not scarf . . . insanely busy day. . . .

  11. What about a simple triangular edging with the bead at the end of each triangle? Something akin to a VanDyke-ish edging??

  12. It’s certainly lovely already, and I enjoyed seeing your assistants. I love Deb Robson’s suggestion – sounds great to me!

  13. I agree with Deb. Screw the beaded bind-off. Finish it, see how it looks, then decide.

    No, I left something out. Finish it, HAVE A BEER, see how it looks, then decide.

    I think I’ll go have one in sympathy (it’s 5:00 SOMEWHERE!)

  14. Lovely yarn, lovely shawl. My advice-hand it to a really good friend and let them bind the thing off for you. Even if it means you have to finish off something they’ve been avoiding for a year. My BFF and I do it all the time. It’s the bonus of choosing to hang with a BFF who knits. Now if only she’d fall in love with spindles and spinning like I have and get her head out of the weaving, which I am dead slow at, oh, wait, yeah, we trade that off, too.

  15. I have no real advice to offer, but the fringey tassel with beads idea is so wrong for that loveliness that if you go that route I will mock you for the rest of our natural lives. Suck it up and draw out some ideas and ponder them over a beer, far away from the shawl.

    Then do whatever Denny tells you

  16. How about finishing the edge a la Evelyn Clark? Make the bead point that you need to finish, then do a scalloped edging, where the current “points” as you call them, are actually the concave part. Then add a bead to the new points during cast off. There would be only 2 beaded rows remaining. The one to finish the current repeat, then the cast off row.

    And I agree with someone’s idea of larger beads on the bind off row. If you have any teardrop shaped beads, they would look like dew dripping off of the leaves. (Okay, I admit it. I’ve lived in Portland/Seattle too long, and really like the glisten on the leaves in the “heavy fog.”)

  17. I like Rachel H’s advice. I will second that.

    (Especially the bit about turning to beer for design support.)

  18. I dunno for shaws, but that yarn is stunning.

  19. Rooting for you all the way in this corner.

    It’s definitely a stunning shawl and a stunning yarn. I see no way that you could mess that up with a simple-designed-yourself bind off using pointy edges and beads. We’ll love it no matter what you do. Have some beer. ๐Ÿ˜€

  20. How about the picot cast-off used in Victorian Lace Today on the Wide Triangle?

    Picot with bead : cast on 2 stitches, place bead, bind off 2 stitches.

    You could do this on each leaf point.

  21. Crochet a la Kinzel…seriously if you want to add beads then add them.

  22. You can do it! I’ve seen you do more complicated things, don’t let a shawl kick your butt.

  23. Sorry, I just do whatever the pattern tells me… but the kitten is adorable.

  24. At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, are you trying to over complicate things. If you are blocking it out into points, couldn’t you do a simple lace bind off and slip a bead on the stich that is at the point with the crochet hook as you go? I did this with one of my shawls and it worked out great – I even used the centre of the bead to pin the points out for blocking ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Freaking gorgeous, no advice except git ‘er done.

  26. Abby,

    Once I had a gauge problem on a vest- the back was like 7.5 st/inch and the front was 6.5 st/inch. I thought the difference was huge and glaring. Now the vest was intarsia with 26 colors and a complicated Kafe motif so frogging was unbearable. I showed it to one spider and she just looked at me and said, “Sew the damn thing up no one will notice”. She was right. I wasted more time fretting than was warranted. I also smile and send positive thoughts everytime I wear it…. In ten years no one has come up to me and said, “OMG you so suck at gauge look at the difference beteween the front and the back.”

    So, have a beer, relax, do the finish that your gut tells you to. Then wear it someplace spectacular. Channel your energy into productive things….

    btw – I loved the Bosworth. Thank you so much.

    I am up for knitting socks….


  27. so heres how it goes……..

    o.k. o.k. o.k. …Deborah and Ann (from the comments) bump into one any other….hmm where am I going here? Oh yeah, both Ann and Deborah’s idea together. use them both….

    You need to cast off and finishing will involve sewing beads on with a threaded needle. suck it up.

    The cast off should not “cut off” the pattern of the leaves, so Ann was right about the “E Clark” way. You can do it.

    Then block the crap out of it, picking up the the points of the leaves along the edges with the blocking wires,(mmm pointy edge), these are the same leaves you will sew some beads off of, just a few as Deborah said and yes to a wee tear-drop bead at the end.
    Yup, you need to go buy more beads to be done. Deal with it. Buy the “good” beer at the same time.
    You can always to this part later, or send it to me and I’ll do it. You can wear it this weekend after the blocking. But it does need a beaded finish, you know it does.

    you can do it. keep knitting. you can do it, you can do it.

  28. also Rachel H, is correct…….. step away from the “beaded fringe” bad look. no really, bad.

    And the other one…….. do as I say. kidding,sort of

  29. oh, we want the pattern now please. no hurry, in your spare time. thank you.

  30. Wow – gorgeous, I can’t wait to see you wear it at SOAR this year.

    I love a two stitch applied I cord edging for shawls and adding a bead at the tip of each leaf should be simple.

    A crochet bind off would probably be faster and make just as nice of an edge.

    Good luck!

  31. Ummm–might I humbly suggest finishing the pattern repeat (with the beads) and then bind off on the wrong side with the same basic bind off as the kiri shawl? (K2, slip them back on the left needle, K2tog, *K1, slip 2 back onto left needle, K2tog, repeat from * until done) I understand wanting to get the row over and done with–really I do. But I think that would make the simplest, cleanest edge, and doing it on the wrong side will “fold” the little “chain” down on the back, leaving the pattern uninterupted.

  32. Slog on! It’s lovely! I do agree about the fringe, though … not so much.

    Maybe you could use some good Single Malt after finishing this beauty?

  33. Now think. Think of all the hours you’ve spent on this shawl. Think of the time you’ve spent threading those beads on one by one and taking the time to knit it right. You have in your hands a part of your life that at this point you feel is tortuous and horrid. It’s your Mt Everest and you are Tenzing Norgay. You’re so close to the top but you’re gasping for breath. You just want to lie down in the snow and give up.

    Don’t. Don’t give up. You have in your hands a flower ready to bloom. You are a creator of beauty. Beauty doesn’t come easily. It comes with pain and misery and rewards you with something so sublime it leaves you speechless.

    Pick up your needles now. Don’t think of what you have to do to finish the entire thing. Finish a row. And another. And another. You will finish it. And after blocking it be extraordinarily rewarded.

  34. Glue!

    Okay, don’t use glue.

  35. First choice egg-sucking Catherine, second choice Janine — while lacing on my sprinting shoes. Beause while agreeing with Rachel H and Denny that fringe is a non-starter, I have to whisper here that it wasn’t a level playing field. Denny, I happen to know, shows a marked lack of enthusiasm for the crochet-hook/knit bead technique. Prejudiced, that’s what she is. And do you really want to seeeeeewwww when you could be knitting? That said, I’m sprinting before she reaches me…

  36. Oh my, this is so beautiful! You can definitely finish this, using several of the suggestions for a simple edging with one bead per leaf point. Anything more elaborate would take away from the lovely fabric itself. Too close not to finish, so just do it and smile. Your skill inspires awe. If you don’t love it after all that, give it away because someone will adore it.

  37. There have been many suggestions so I figure you don’t need more, but I will offer…

    Carrot: Plan to allow yourself two, no.. Three! beers when you finish and wallow in all the glory and praise from all your admirers.

    Stick: No more spinning/ dyeing/ weaving/ fibre/ beer/ fun till it’s done!! Get to work girl!

    General Consolation: Just think how much worse it would have been if you’d threaded all those beads beforehand instead of hookin’ them ๐Ÿ˜‰

    It’s loverly. And worth it ๐Ÿ™‚ and all things have an end, even if it’s not in sight right now.

  38. Send the shawl to Denny with some Wasabi Soy nuts as a bribe to finish it.

  39. Whatever you decide, it’ll be gorgeous. :o)

  40. Firstly, step away from the tassel (just way too folie bergere for words).

    I am still stunned that Denny did not suggest using satan’s own tool.

    Pulling myself together…i agree with Deb and Denny- get it bound off, add some teeny beads (not liking the tear drop idea- sorry Denny!) that will add a little but of weight, and, um well just finish it!

  41. I’m dumbfounded at being able to contribute something here. I’ve often said I would like to be able to follow you around for a few weeks, just to be able to absorb some of what you know about spinning and traditional textiles.

    This kind of pattern sort of demands a scalloped or pointed edge, and binding off in pattern, even right at the tip of the snowdrop, tends to produce a straight, solid, sort of pedestrian edge. If you use a small crochet hook to manipulate the yarn as you bind off, (probably you’d have to use one larger than that used for placing the beads), you can add ch1’s at each YO location which will let the edge begin to shape. Then right at the tip of the snowdrop, ch3 and slip stitch back to the bead, creating a tiny picot that echos the snow drop shape. If you want true drama, place an extra bead or set of 3 there.

    then when you block the shawl, pull the shaping out and create the impression of sharp little points or a fine tiny beaded fringe. (Hopefully this isn’t too awkward an explanation.)


  42. send me the left over yarn and I’ll crochet something nice for Sarah…hee hee

  43. *drool* oh, excuse me while I am gawking at your gorgeous work. You should have packed that sucker up and made each of us work on it at TNNA for you ๐Ÿ˜‰ then again, what with all the beer and other alcohol, that may not have been such a good idea. Sadly, I have no words of wisdom, as my own beaded lace shawl is languishing on the bottom of my WIP pile on my own couch….Such a pleasure to meet you at TNNA ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll be playing with some bison blending soon I think – in hopes of coming up with something as gorgeous as that niji fiber!

  44. Ok, it’s now the 9th, you posted this on the 2nd, hopefully some sort of progress has been made. I was toying with the idea of the luna moth shawl with beads, but after reading this post… not so sure… The yarn is very pretty though, very very pretty.

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