Marginalia and Spreadsheets

A close up view of my in progress Free Your Fade shawl with grey and green stripes.  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

I remember taking a random knitting survey that asked if I preferred printed patterns or digital patterns. I am 100% in for printing my patterns. I’ll keep the file on my phone as a backup, but the paper version is what I’m going to work from. Why? Because it is so much easier to make notes, track repeats, and see the whole pattern at a glance. Plus, I don’t have to run the distraction laden gauntlet that is my phone every time I have a question about a stitch count.

A segment of the knitting pattern with my notes tracking row counts, yarn used, and when to switch colors.  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

The Free Your Fade pattern, or the Yarn Chicken shawl as I’ve come to call it, is the perfect example. The margins are jam packed with notes. You can see where I’m counting row repeats, tracking how much yarn each section is using, and telling myself where to fade in new colors. All this marginalia is also a pretty handy indicator of how much I’ve knit these past weeks - AKA a lot. This is one case where working from a screen can’t beat paper.

A small segment of my spreadsheet used for tracking rows and yarn used per repeat. #FreeYourFadeShawl  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

This is not to say that I’m not going to use a computer/phone when needed to enhance my knitting. My spreadsheets and knits are best friends. Take a gander at the screenshot above. Those strings of numbers are me “knitting” the shawl digitally. With enough IRL knitting and then weighing the yarn after each repeat, I was able to determine how much yarn is used per stitch. Armed with that minuscule number, I can work ahead in the spreadsheet, estimate how much yarn will be used, and figure out where to switch colors. There have been some leftovers, but I’m fairly confident I’m getting as much out of the yardage as I can.

An overall photo showing the #FreeYourFade shawl with 4 colors knit and and 2 yarn balls waiting to be knit.  Marginalia and Spreadsheets || withwool.com

Even though this shawl isn’t the low key process knit I was expecting, it’s still really fun. It’s also a great excuse to watch other people play video games I’m not going to play myself. As much as I’ve been focusing on the stitch counts and row by row of this pattern, taking these photos is the first time I laid the shawl out and got a good look at all of it. I really like my Free Your Fade which is, you know, good since I’ve put so much time and energy into it already.

Yarn Chicken Shawl

As a happy birthday gift to myself I finally wound the yarn to knit a Free Your Fade shawl by Andrea Mowry. Dyed by Sun Valley Fibers, the colors are earthy and lovely. The merino/cashmere/nylon blend has been a joy so far. I really enjoyed casting on and knitting the first few repeats during a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. However, this shawl is going to be more stressful to knit than I originally thought. Why? I have already played yarn chicken and lost on the first fade!

Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com

I was tracking how much yarn I used every repeat (small digital kitchen scales (<<— affiliate link!*) are awesome for this) and estimated I’d have just enough yarn to finish Color 1. I was right except for the 26 stitches left at end of the last row. Bah. It was late so I went to bed instead of ripping back.

Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com
Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com

Getting some sleep turned out to be the best option because, in the morning, I remembered all the leftover sock yarn I have stashed away. Maybe I could find some that matched? Turns out that I did have something close, and can’t tell the difference between the two in the shawl. The extra ends are the only sign I had to take drastic measures. Whew!

Ran out of yarn with just a few stitches left in the row. Sock yarn leftovers to the rescue! Yarn Chicken Shawl || withwool.com

I’m going to rename the shawl Yarn Chicken because, while I have the required amount of yarn, all six colors are the same yardage. Those rows are only going to get longer and longer too. I did find a few other matching leftovers so I do have some insurance, but knitting this is going to be...interesting. The scale and a spreadsheet will be my constant companions.

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