Starting Venus (several times)

After I’d pulled it all apart in a bit of a rage at the airport, I have finally managed to progress from the first section of Venus onto the fans! Who would have thought it? I have restarted this pattern three times now and, probably out of sheer bloodyminded stubbornness, I am determined I will get to the end. Occasionally, I succumb to taking a scorched earth approach to mistakes in crochet, mostly because frogging is a lot of fun, rather than fixing things or working around them, but maybe this is the final time I’ll restart this shawl for no good reason!

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When I’m crocheting or knitting, I often find myself overthinking patterns, which ultimately results in making stupid mistakes or needing excessive levels of reassurance that I am understanding things correctly. If you’re as paranoid as me, there is a very nice sanity check you can do though, particularly for this pattern as Aiohbe Ni very kindly gives the number of ‘live’ stitches that each row should finish with.

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If you know you have 40 stiches at the end of each row, that means there are 40 ‘stitch spaces’ for you to crochet into. Often, several stitches will be worked as clusters into the same stitch for the previous row. You can use this to check then whether your repeats should be in separate stitch spaces or the same by doing some simple subtraction. Total number of stitches from previous row (40) – number of clusters – number of individual stitches. That should come to zero! Stupid me and managing to interpret the *[6 L4tr]* twice in the beginning rows as something it was not. It’s easy when you’ve worked it all out…

Venus is actually a lot of fun when you get started. The Tunisian crochet grows really quickly and is a lot more straightforward than it would initially seem. If you haven’t done it before, it is definitely worth sitting down and having a practice beforehand. Aiohbe Ni has a great video on the stitches if you need a bit of extra help but I promise that, despite my stupidity with this pattern, it’s not as challenging as it looks, well, at least the half I’ve done so far.

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The big challenge I always find when it comes to working with lace weight yarns it that nothing is ever as clear in terms of stitch structure as it would be with a double knit or Aran weight. There’s some great tutorials for making magic loops (warning: contains rage-inducing intro music) and using the back loops of a chain on Youtube but it can be rather difficult to work out how this clearly translates when you’ve got a floppy, thin yarn.

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The great thing is I am finally on the dreaded Row 8 of the pattern. I say dreaded because, sensibly or stupidly enough, I did a little research on Ravelry before making the transition into the lacier part of the pattern. It turns out there are a few… discrepancies in how many stitch spaces things take up (see here, here and here – you’ll need a Ravelry login for all of these). The clearest explanation I have found of how to get the right number of stitches is this excellent forum post by craftymizz, which is the approach I’m taking for mine. Much as you can always do the maths and addition to work out the number of stitches and stitch spaces, it always feels a little nerve-wracking stepping out into the unknown where you’re not sure the pattern can be treated as complete gospel.

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Of course, Row 8 has ended up giving me some different problems. Maybe partly because Venus is currently one of my travelling projects so there’s lots of crocheting on aeroplanes, trains and conditions that seem to be routinely filled with screaming babies, but every time I pick the project up I seem to find more mistakes. I’m not sure the other situation is helping either. A few times I’ve caught my stitch tension getting so tight I can barely get the hook through the bars for the Tunisian lace!

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Row 8 is still a work in progress but working, frogging and re-working the fans seems to be my version of the sand Zen gardens. Spend ages making something, get fed up, tear it all out, and start again! If you’re someone who enjoys the process, with the indestructible, wonderful Olympus cotton I’m using, this is infinite fun! One day though, I’ll learn to count and we’ll see how well the maths on Row 8 all worked out in the end.

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