Gully: A channel or small valley, especially one cut by heavy rainwater.
Gulch: A narrow ravine cut by a fast stream.

Collins English Dictionary

I hit a snag with the Heather Sweater over the weekend. I had been expecting the lace panel to become easier to memorise the more I worked it, but I had to admit as I was working the 40th row, that this wasn’t the case. I was constantly wondering if I’d worked one too many or one too few knit stitches before beginning the panel and floundering over which lace row I was about to start. I ended up counting the stitches every row and consulting the written pattern constantly; I wasn’t getting any better at ‘reading’ my knitting.

Actually, since the very first row of the lace I had been wondering why the design didn’t include some kind of pearl stitch gully either side of the panel instead of it going straight on from the main Stocking Stitch area. I became increasingly aware that a tangible point where your brain can switch into “patterning” mode makes the work much easier.

When I began Row 43, I got to the lace panel and I could see it wasn’t how it should be for the row I was due to work, so I tinked back two rows and found I’d worked a K2tog instead of a K1 at the beginning of the previous pattern row. There and then I decided to drop one stitch to either side of the pattern block and pick each one up as a purl stitch instead of a knit stitch. I don’t enjoy doing that as a rule, but it was a simple enough process with this wool and quite quick to do. Now I have my gully either side of the pattern block and I am finding it much easier to see the flow of that first stitch in the lace design. In fact, the very first row I worked after making this change seemed much more relaxing than the previous rows.

In the overall scheme of things this is a tiny point, it makes very little difference to how the pattern looks, yet it has a big impact on how the pattern is to work with. I bet I ended up doing exactly the same thing forty-something years ago when I originally knitted this garment. This time I’m going to write it on the pattern leaflet!

Check in with me on Wednesday to see if I’ve made much more progress and for an update on how I’m getting on memorising the lace stitches.