Number one is the reason why traditional Shetland knitters do their lace shawls in sections -- edging, border, center -- and then graft them together.
The Williamson stole pattern says this several times, including at the very start where they tell you to use the most delicate lace yarn possible. The same is true for the famous wedding ring shawls, which are very large but knitted in a very delicate yarn which makes them able to go through a wedding ring.
By the time I finished adding the edging to the ocean wave lace, I had put on a couple of pounds of muscle in my arms from turning it to attach the edging instead of knitting it separately and grafting it on.
OK not seriously but you get my drift.
Second, if you are going to design a shawl, you must do math. The piece looks higgledy piggledy because it is. If I intended it for a gift or for show, it would disappoint whoever I gave it to or probably not get accepted by the show jury.
The math will also help you buy the right amount of yarn. It's better to have leftovers that you can use up in something else, than to fall short, have to buy something with a different dye lot, and forget where you are in the pattern while you wait for delivery. Here's a website that can help you figure out how much yarn to buy in different weights for a given number of stitches needed. It's in both metric and "English" measurements -- which England doesn't use any more but the U.S. still does more than two centuries after our revolution. Go figure. No, wait, with this you WON'T have to go figure for yourself. Agh, I've got a headache. Numbers always do that to me.
The third lesson learned is, when you have never knitted lace before, it's a GOOD thing to start with worsted, even though it's heavy. That's because unless you have really really good control of your tension, you will constantly be breaking your fingering weight or lace weight yarn. One knitter said this straight out on her website.
So although I started with worsted weight leftover yarn, I was able to graduate to sport weight leftover yarn, and then to DK, and only then did I work with fingering yarn. I learned how to knit loosely enough so that k3tog wasn't a hassle, but not so loosely that the work looked like a fishing net instead of a piece of fabric.
Work up to it and ignore anybody who points out your mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes when they're still learning. The smart people aren't afraid of mistakes because they aren't afraid of learning something from them.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved