So I frogged and started over again, feeling encouraged by your comments and good about my commitment to doing this thing right.
Just a few rows in, I found I was still having edge problems, so I frogged again and cast on again.
Which brings me to this afternoon. I am zooming along, adoring the yarn, thrilling to the rhythm of the pattern, which has a great balance of consistency and variety. I really, really love it. I am on the 7th row of the 2nd pattern repeat, which means one more row after this and I will be back to where I was before I frogged yesterday morning. And then something happens, a momentary inattention, a tiny blip, and a stitch is missing. I tinker with it and think I've fixed things, get to the end of the row - and I'm still somehow short one stitch.
And so begins the tinking. I can sort of see where the problem is, but can't figure out how to fix it. So I begin to unknit. Usually unknitting is a little bit Zen for me, a small practice of letting go, and in a nice little rhythm. Only how do you get in a rhythm when every 6th stitch to unknit is actually : sl 1, k2tog, psso? I slog through.
I tink and tink and tink. But I'm still missing a stitch. Oh wait, now I'm missing two stitches. I keep unknitting and reworking little sections, but without progress. So I go further and unknit the next row (a purl row). I think I see the problem, and I think I can fix it once I start knitting things back up. So I do the purl row. Then I do the pattern row, which has constant little problems in it now. I press on, trying to give painstaking attention to what I'm doing. With a nickname like Miss Approximate, I can assure that "painstaking" is not my forte.
I get almost to the end of the row. I have two extra stitches. I count, I tink, I rework. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It looks fixed. I get almost to the end. I have an extra stitch.
I sit there in shock, counting, looking, trying to make out where my problem is. I'm not far enough along in the shawl to be able to readily see how this row looks compared to how it's supposed to look. Where exactly is the freaking problem? And how exactly can I fix it? Things are starting to blur. Possibly because of the tears in my eyes. My Old Man asks questions that don't help, but then listens patiently as I try to explain.
I don't have a lifeline.
I can't figure out where my problem is.
I don't know if I can keep tinking back, or if it would actually be more efficient to just frog all over again. Or maybe I can just unravel back to the 3-row garter border.
I put the shawl away without finishing the row (something that goes against my grain). It's time for the boys to have a bath. I'll take a break, get them to bed, revisit the shawl a little later. I had intended to bathe the boys right after dinner, but they were sitting so sweetly in their room on the floor looking at books, that I decided to let them stay that way a little longer. They had shut the door to their room, and I left it that way, happy to have some quiet moments to knit.
Let me preface what comes next by saying that if you have a weak stomach, have never had toddlers, or are offended by potty talk, you will want to skip the rest of this post.
Let me further preface what comes next by saying that the boys split a pint of blueberries yesterday.
So I open the door to find them both naked (no surprise there; they strip several times a day and I regularly clean up after them since they only use the potty every sporadically at best). Little Buddha has gone poop. To his credit, some of it is in the potty. Okay, so it's actually smeared all over the potty, in every part of the potty, including the underside of the potty. But at least the potty was involved.
It is also in or on the following places:
the shag rug
the hardwood floor
a few books
Little Buddha's hands, legs, and face
and - perhaps most disgustingly - Tiny Dancer's hands, legs, and face
Let me remind you that Little Buddha ate mass quantities of blueberries yesterday.
I have to say that if I had a choice between cleaning up smeared blueberry poop and tinking back a few rows of lace, it would honestly be a tough call.
My Old Man immediately bathed the boys while I went about cleaning their nasty room. After all was cleaned up, and he was diapering the boys while I was putting fresh sheets on their beds (since they had of course both stripped and gone pee in their beds at naptime - yes, these are exciting times in our household!), My Old Man turns to me and says with some surprise in his voice, "You didn't freak out."
So maybe this evening wasn't the opposite of Zen after all. Maybe I'm learning something from the slow, patient work of making stitches, unmaking them, and making them again.
I have also learned this. Diapers and lifelines have one very critical thing in common: if you don't use them, you could end up with a pretty crappy situation.