I completed my first Rowan pattern and it's Elspeth (sorry Moni). Ta Da!
Pattern: Elspeth from Rowan 37
Yarn: Cashcotton from Rowan Classic Yarns in white
Needles: US 6 and US E4 and US H8 crochet hooks
What I learned/did for the first time: Crochet edging, short rows (on sleeves), and raglan shaping
As many other knitbloggers have said, this is not the most clearly written pattern. However, I can confidently say that there are no errors in the pattern and that the lace chart can be used for more than just the first 12 rows. So, I offer the following hints for those of you who are either struggling with the pattern or fearfully considering knitting this cute bolero.
Elspeth hints for those who care:
1) The lace pattern has a repeat of 9 stitches. Place a marker between the repeats and mark the repeats on the lace chart. This will help you know where to place YOs and K2togs after doing the increases or decreases. It will also help you spot mistakes and save you from having to count stitches every row.
2) All the YOs are paired with a decrease (K2tog, P2tog, K2tog tbl, P2tog tbl). When working the lace near the edges of your piece, remember that YOs and decreases are like love and marriage in the old song--i.e. "if you care you'd bother, don't have one without the other."
3) I used selvege stitches--2 sts on the side and raglan edges and 1 stitch on the front edge. I did not add stitches, I just kept those stitches in stockinette and ignored the lace chart. But remember to keep pointer #2 in mind while doing this. The selvege stitches allowed me to sew nice neat mattress-stitch seams and made it easy for me to pick up the front-edge stitches for the crochet border.
4) The instructions for the increases and decreases on the front panels are very confusing. I wrote out row-by-row instructions for the increases and decreases. I will be happy to send these instructions to anyone--just email me or leave a comment.
5) For those in the US, remember that the British use different terms in crochet. Specifically, a British double crochet (dc) is a US single crochet.
6) When picking up stitches for the crochet border, experiment with the ratio of stitches that you are picking up to insure that the border will lie flat. For example, I found that on the top and bottom edges I needed to pick up every stitch, but on the front slopes picking up 3 out of every 4 stitches looked much better.
7) When making the ties for the front, use a larger crochet hook to make the base chain and then use the smaller one to make the picots. When I used the smaller hook to make the chain and the picots, the tie was too short and was extremely curly.
Have a rambled on long enough? Even Scout is bored with me.