The journey that never ends

If you’re the kind of person who likes making things, you’re usually the kind of person who always wants a project with you, whether at home or on the move. So most of us have ‘home’ projects and ‘travel’ projects. For quilters, you can’t easily bring a king size quilt on the bus, but you could bring some paper piecing hexagons. Lots of knitters I know have socks for such occasions, and crocheters might have blanket squares or an easy back and forth shrug. If you’re travelling, it’s tricky to keep a pattern visible and track where you are on it, so you want something small and easily memorised.

All that said, naturally, for my travel project lately, I’ve been working on a laceweight, lacey shawl.

A purple crochet project lying crumpled over a black project bag


Wait, here me out! Lace can actually be really good for travelling, because the pattern tends to repeat from row to row. If it’s a two- to four-row repeat, and you do it often enough, you’ve usually got it memorised by the third time you do it. The big thing for me, though, is that lace makes a pattern, each row building on the one before. And if there’s pattern, there’s order, and it makes it easier to see when you’ve gone wrong. Compared to other weights of yarn, lace squishes down really well, so getting it into a small project bag is eminently possible.

A small, black, spotty cloth bag with a hint of a purple crochet project inside

My travel project of choice for the last…oh…six months or so has been the Abberley Shawl. I work on it in 10 minute stretches on the bus from time to time, or for an hour or so on Saturday mornings. Hence the six months, because it’s not exactly getting a lot of attention.

It’s so long since I started it, I couldn’t tell you how many rows each set of repeats is, but as the pattern has those strong diagonal lines, I know which parts are supposed to be solid, and which are supposed to be gaps. In some ways, it’s been like making a granny square. There’s a standard way of making a cluster of stitches, and I just have to look each time at whether it’s trebles or chains. Because it’s a travel project, I’d say the stitching to ripping ratio has been about 10 to one. Which is to say for every ten rows, I’m having to take one out because I went wrong.

That wasn’t too bad twenty rows ago, but as it’s a ‘point up’ shawl, each row is getting longer and long, and naturally, any mistakes are always, <i>always</i> at the beginning of the previous row. That means you don’t stumble across them until the <i>end</i> of the next one, and you have to rip out two rows instead of one.

A purple shawl with a strong diagonal lace pattern

I’ll be honest, there are some rows of this shawl that are a stitch short of a cluster. That’s okay, I can live with that. It’s when I’ve put a gap where a cluster should be, or vice versa, that it has to come out, as there’s no disguising that. Still, it’s served me well as a travel project, and is proof that they don’t have to be small, simple things. Sometimes a more occupying project is just what you need to take your mind off the fact that your bus is stuck in a traffic jam. Again.

[You can buy Abberley on Ravelry, either as a single pattern or, as I did, as part of the book <i>Raw</i>, here

The yarn I’m using is, I think, Spinel from The Yarn Yard, long discontinued. And it’s so long since I wound it that the label is long gone. However, I have pictures on my phone of two skeins of Spinel, I can only find one, and it looks to be about the right colour, so my Sherlockian instincts tell me that’s what it is!]


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