Dream or nightmare?

I’ve spent another week of evenings painting skirting boards, but now they are all on the wall and there’s just a bit of residual gap-filling to do. I have time for knitting again, which means I’ve finished one project and started the next.

First the FO (finished object), the Norwegian Fir baby cardigan.

Norwegian Fir baby cardiganI haven’t bought the buttons for it yet, I’m thinking maybe little yellow ducks rather than blue buttons. Or perhaps plain round buttons, but each in a different colour? I’ll have to see what inspires me the next time I get to a haberdashery shop. There’s no hurry, this cardi will be a Christmas present. I might even try making a matching hat before then, using the fir-like lace pattern that formed the raglans.

Now for the new knitting project, Dreambird.

I’ve had this pattern, and the yarn for it, for quite a while but was put off casting on by its apparent complexity and the many adverse comments on Ravelry about the clarity of the instructions. Dreambird has to be one of the most stunning designs ever to appear on that site, a dramatic shawl featuring feathers created with short rows. However, it’s also a pattern that has attracted a lot more criticism than most, with many a would-be Dreambird knitter falling by the wayside on their journey to own such a show-stopper of a shawl. The designer has attempted to explain the design concept, which is a commendable aim, but it seems that something has been lost in translation (literally as well as metaphorically) and the lengthy explanations have only contributed to the confusion.

What the pattern lacks is a succinct, well written, idiot-proof set of row by row instructions. There is one page that comes close and, following the advice of myriad successful Dreambird knitters, I am focusing on that page and adding my own notes to it. I’ve knitted quite a few short-row designs before, mostly using the technique known by Anglophones as German short rows (GSRs) which produces a “double stitch” at the turning point, and I’m hoping that this experience will give me a head start.

Well, I cast on last night and have more or less completed the first feather, but I have yet to knit the first background section that sits between feathers. My background is plain black, the better to show off the Crazy Zauberball feathers in colourway Papagei (parrot).

Dreambird shawl cast onRather than counting lots of stitches, I’ve annotated the instructions to put them in the form I’m more used to when working GSRs, namely “knit up to and including the double stitch, and then X more sts” or “knit until there are Y sts before the double st remaining on the left needle”. X and Y are nice small numbers, which reduces the counting considerably and makes it possible to hold a conversation or watch TV while knitting.

Also, being a nerdy sort of knitter, I charted out the instructions in Excel before I started, much as I did when experimenting with swing knitting. I wanted to see how the short-row shaping worked, and how the feathers mesh into the background.

Is this all going to help, or will I be one of the many who have started a Dreambird and been unable to make it work? Dreambird or Nightmarebird – only time will tell.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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5 Responses to Dream or nightmare?

  1. chrisknits says:

    That pattern is in my queue also, but I still haven’t found a color combo to knit it with! So you are much further along than I might ever be. LOL! I will watching your progress, not at all worried you will fall by the way.

    • There are several lovely Dreambirds on Ravelry knitted with Schoppel Zauberball or Crazy Zauberball, so it wasn’t a difficult decision to choose that yarn. Thank you for having confidence in me!

  2. Heather Thompson says:

    Hello, I have been searching the internet to see if I could find any info on the Dreambird pattern when I came across yorkshirecrafter! I purchased the pattern on Ravelry about three years ago! I have been knitting for over sixty years and find the pattern a nightmare! Did you by any chance make a simplify pattern? if so, I am more than willing to pay you for the pattern. Thank you very much for your time.

    Heather Thompson

    • Hello, Heather. My simplified instructions are really only the original pattern, so it would infringe the designer’s rights to make them available, even for free. But I hope the following will help.
      On the first feather, just ignore everything else and follow the instructions on p.16, counting very carefully. As you work each row, when you reach the turning point make a note of: how many stitches remain unworked when you turn (rows 2, 3, 17, 28 and 42); or how many stitches you have worked beyond the double stitch (DS) from the previous turn (rows 5 and 45 and their repeats, plus row 18); or how many sts remain before the DS (rows 6, 19 and 44 and their repeats, plus rows 58, 62, 64, 66 and 68). You will mostly be turning 5 sts beyond the DS, or else when there are 4 sts before it on the left needle. After turning, the DS you make counts as the first stitch of the new row. By way of example, my note for row 6 says “Make DS, K until 4 sts remain before the DS, turn.”
      Then for the remaining feathers you can just follow your notes and avoid most of the counting. It is important to be able to recognise a DS so maybe work a practice swatch if you haven’t done German short rows before.
      Best of luck!

      • Heather Thompson says:

        Just started to knit some socks, as soon as they are finished I will make a move on the Dreambird! Thank you very much for your time.


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