I haven’t progressed very much on Marin, because I was having too much trouble with the pattern as written.

This is the first time I’ve knit a pattern by Ysolda, so I don’t know how it compares to her other ones. But in her defense, this is a really clever and lovely design, and not difficult to knit – but it’s very complicated to explain in writing. Since she’s providing both written instructions and charts, it makes the pattern even more complex. Some people seem to have had no trouble at all with it, but our brains all work in different ways, and it’s impossible to come up with something that works well for everyone’s different ways of thinking and learning. This is one that just doesn’t work for my brain.

I prefer to work from charts when I can, and although part of Marin is charted, the charts don’t represent entire rows, and some sections aren’t charted at all. Trying to bounce back and forth between the written instructions and the chart were confusing, and trying to work from the written instructions wasn’t any better, because you still have to bounce back and forth between sections of the pattern. Plus, there are no row numbers, just “next row”, “next row”, “next row”, ad infinitum. I kept getting lost as to which “next row” I was on. (Yes, sticky notes or check marks would probably have helped a lot, but I wasn’t that smart.)

The first section of the pattern was particularly difficult to wrap my brain around, because there’s no chart, and no good image of what the starting end should look like. I couldn’t really visualize how the first chart fit into it. I guess that for knitting, my brain just works much better on a visual level than a written one. Monkey see, monkey do.

I also had trouble figuring out whether or not I’d done all of the appropriate increases, since there weren’t any intermediate stitch counts for a really long stretch of knitting. I ended up calculating what the stitch count should be every 10 rows, and found that I had missed a bunch of increases. Fortunately, I was only about halfway through the section of increases, so I was able to just throw in an extra one every few rows and get back on track.

But then I got to the short row section, and brain fog set in. That was when I decided to stop and rewrite the pattern to suit my own brain. I charted the entire first and last pieces of the shawl that come before and after the main pattern chart. It was too late to help me with the start of the shawl, but it will be handy for the end.

Then I carefully read through all of instructions for the main portion of the shawl, and divided it into three sections, one for each of the three wedges of the shawl. Within those sections, I changed all of the “next row” instructions to numbered rows, so that I could refer to specific row numbers when having to repeat certain rows. Plus I put a chart of expected stitch counts for the increases on the main chart. (I’m planning to do the decreases, too, but haven’t gotten to it yet.)


It was a lot of work, but it will make it much less frustrating for me to follow from this point forward – at least, as long as I haven’t made any mistakes in my translation. I think now I’ll be able to just breeze along.

One positive thing already – while charting the final section, I found what I’m pretty sure is an error in her stitch count on one row. Probably just a typo, but at least I won’t be confused when I get there.

It occurred to me that the chart I did for the beginning section might be really useful for other people who are having difficulty understanding how the written instructions and the chart fit together. For me, it was sort of an “aha” moment. Of course, I don’t want to give away any of the actual pattern design, so I removed all of the stitch symbols from the chart. But the color blocks might help visualize the pattern, so here it is:

The white sections along the left and right edge are the top and bottom border stitches (top edge on the left, bottom edge on the right). The yellow sections are the garter stitch sections, which increase and decrease to form the main body of the shawl. The black vertical lines on either side of the yellow section represent the stitch markers. The pink section is where the “beginning edge pattern” chart goes. After finishing that chart, you keep continuing on in the same manner, substituting the “centre edging pattern” chart for the pink section. The pink section is what forms the pretty scallops along the bottom edge of the shawl.

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16 Responses to Marin-ating

  1. Chris says:

    Color me confused. 🙂

  2. zeneedle says:

    I could not knit this shawl without you. Thank goodness your brain works a bit like mine. I’ve decided to change my yarn as what I’m using is so fine and I’d like something softer and fluffier. Maybe I’ll use Pashmina.

  3. Laurie says:

    I’m impressed with your work, and dedication. But it convinces me I will never knit this pattern.

  4. Kitten says:

    I would have called it crackers long before that.

  5. Cookie says:

    I just love a pattern that needs fixing in order to make it knit-able. It’s such a shame we can’t return patterns.

  6. jill says:

    What Laurie said!

  7. Silvia says:

    I’ve already ripped out my first attempt and am letting it marinate (pun intended). I shall come back to this pattern when I’ve got the patience.

  8. Gloria E says:

    Thanks for your great comments. I am stuck at the first section. And going back and forth from the written “next row” and the chart is driving me nuts. You have inspired me to continue on. I love the pattern.

  9. Marian Thauberger says:

    Funny I had a problem with her Damson due to wanting to slip the first st not knitting it.

  10. Pingback: FO: Marin | CabledSheep

  11. Emma says:

    I think you’re going to save me… I didn’t understand what to do with this “beginning edging pattern”, but now that I see the colours, it’s becoming clearer. À suivre… Thank you!

  12. Purl Onions says:

    I also found the instructions incomprehensible, and finally tossed in the towel when I was bout 2/3 of the way through. The bouncing back and forth from page to page, combined with the endless ‘next row’ instructions were beyond the pale of my patience. I’m in the process of re-writing the instructions line-by-line to make them idiot-proof.

    • Sharon says:

      I’ve had 3 attempts at this pattern and ripped and abandoned it. If some kind soul did re-write idiot-proof directions–that’s for me. Can I please get a copy? Cabled Sheep’s colored chart will be very helpful also.
      Thank You.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the rechart. Here’s hoping it works better for my brain than this wonky pattern. Ysolda, I love the result but you have thrown me for a loop.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for all the work you had to do. I have ripped it out two times. Can anybody who has written out line by line instructions and proper charts send them to me too?

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