Even as a seasoned knitter, sometimes, something so simple can flummox me. Steven West’s Bubble Shawl did just that.
The first time I tried this shawl was in March of 2019. For details on yarn and needle size, see my project page. It was the second year my daughter and I decided to start a knitting or crochet project together with the end result being entered into the Make it with Wool contest in November.
We don’t start the same project, we just spend the day together casting on some place different and having a nice lunch; outside if the weather permits. This particular year we did sit outside to cast on. At the fire pit at Southlands mall in Aurora, Colorado. I don’t remember what we ate however.
I do remember starting my project twice while we sat there and it didn’t work either time.
I tried again the following week while everyone was at school. Maybe I just needed some quiet to get this going the right way. It took a couple of tries but still not great. I pushed on, figuring I’ll get the hang of it soon and the rest will block out.
Then came the bubble stitch. I’ve never worked the bubble stitch before. I had to wait until I was at the bus stop with enough time to watch the video and try the bubble stitch in the car. We didn’t have home internet yet, only on my smart phone, which had no signal at home.
I watched, I tried, eh it was sort of okay, I guess. Maybe it’ll get better with more bubbles. So I kept knitting. I’m not sure how far I got or how big the piece was, but I knew I wasn’t happy with it. My bubbles weren’t bubbling. I hadn’t got the hang of the horizontal rib and I wasn’t enjoying the piece.
It was put in time out for a while.
I didn’t finish it for the make it with wool contest.
I pulled it out again at a later date. Decided that frogging would be the way to go and start again. I made a swatch to help.
Same issue with that horizontal rib… Just can’t see how it should go and am having to follow every single row. Why can’t I get it?
The bubble stitch wasn’t any better this time around either.
So I frogged it, again. Put it all in a bag and then placed it in the box of yarn that is for projects.
I really want THIS shawl in THIS yarn. But it isn’t happening right now.
It was at least a year, maybe more before I picked it up this time. I took it with me to Stanley Market Place, also in Aurora, Colorado, one Friday morning. I had just completed a large project and casting on a new project was the reward for that. I thought it was time to try the Bubble Shawl again.
Same bag maker as always, same yarn of course, same needles, even the same water stained set of instructions and I was ready to go.
It was a rather warm day for this time of year, but I stayed outside. I was sitting and just casting on when a guy walked by. He knew that I was knitting, asked what I was making, and said “It looks like you’re just getting started.” He was right, there was or is a knitter in his life somewhere or he himself is one.
I started, I worked for about 20 minutes, did an Instagram story and even mentioned I’m not sure it is correct. I worked a bit longer. Looked at what I had done and it was wrong. Okay here we go again. Frog and re-cast on.
This time I didn’t have to rip. I took the time to read every row, and mark Row 4 of each repeat. This is what got me through the first 30 rows or so.
Now I can finally see that horizontal rib. I can’t tell you the pattern but I can work the pattern now.
Okay so what about the bubble stitch? Well I was a bit concerned that my bubbles were still not going to bubble. My daughter made a mini baby blanket the first half of last school year for a class, using the bubble stitch and her bubbles, bubbled beautifully. So this time I have on-site help if I need it.
Well I needed it. She watched me do it. I listened to her explain… Still not bubbling. Back in the bag and to time out it went.
Then I saw someone else’s Bubble Shawl on Instagram and it was so bubbly. I decided to pull it back out and try yet again. Over two years has passed since this shawl was big and Steven has made a lot of tutorial videos. It was a lot to dig through on his YouTube channel. So I tried the search box and got a video from someone else.
You’re never going to believe what I was doing wrong. I ripped back to the beginning of the bubbles and tried the stitch again. I worked on it the entire week that my daughter was at my Mom’s house. When she came back, my bubbles, bubbled!
I wasn’t going down enough rows to make the bubble stitch. I was only going down 3, not 4 and that made a huge difference in the bubbles or not bubbles.
I no longer mark every 4th row for the horizontal rib, like I said I can see it now. I only look at my directions for the bubble row, to know when to start the bubbles. There are 4 different bubble rows because the bubble section increases every right side row. Though I am seeing the pattern emerge and hop to be able to not rely on the directions so much. Not there is anything wrong with that, there isn’t; it’s just a personal goal of mine.
Why did I push on? When was the breaking point?
In part because I am stubborn, honestly. I really wanted this shawl and in these colors. I had ordered the yarn just for this project and really wanted it to become this shawl.
This try would have been my breaking point. If I hadn’t gotten it while my daughter was gone, it would have probably been frogged and put into the fingering yarn bin.
Now I am very happy with the project. I don’t get to it everyday but most days. I know exactly where I’m at and what I need to do next. It took me a while to be able to really “see” this design, but I’m glad I kept coming back to it.
What project had you stumped? Have you ever had a project be “more” than you thought it was going to be before you began?
Please share in the comments below. Or share your pictures on Instagram and tag me. I’d love to see what “got” you and how you chose to deal with it.