I finally stopped waffling and started a big shawl--my Thursday SnB is doing a shawl-along, with everyone knitting whatever pattern they want, although at the rate I'm knitting, mine will be a shawl-later. I even started late, because I was still in China
Anyway, I picked the Firmaments shawl, from Webs--it's a round shawl, following EZ's pi shaping, which means you cast on at the center and double the number of stitches every time the diameter doubles. So suppose you cast on 9, you'd knit a row, double the stitch count to 18, knit 4 rows, double the stitch count to 36, knit 4 rows, double to 72, knit 8 rows, double to 144, knit 16 rows, double to 288, knit 32 rows, double to 576, knit 64 rows... there's something wonky about my math there, because I'm in the 576 stitch section, which will have 90 rows--possibly the early increases were bunched together more?
The point is, lots of rows with lots of stitches, and then a knitted on border. I'm enjoying it now (after living through a stitch pattern that just would. not. solidify in my brain, so I had to read the chart the entire time... have I complained about this before? It was a pain, because usually I understand how lace patterns work and can read what's going on in the fabric, but that just wouldn't happen this time. And the yarn is... not slippery, since it's alpaca... let's go with demonically possessed... so twice when I didn't catch the third stitch in a triple decrease and didn't notice for a few rows, the loose stitch had slipped down and I had to ravel back 30 or 40 stitch sections over multiple rows because I couldn't read the lace to know where just that stitch should go. But because of the demonic nature of the yarn, it seemed like I might not get all the stitches back on. Because that's usually not a problem, I wanted to be sure Kevin knew how tenuous my control over the knitting was. So whenever he got within 10 feet of me I barked that he should stand back! Don't touch! Stay over there! Try not to breathe! In my defense, he does think it's fun to grab the loose outside ends of my needles and wiggle them around like he's pretending to knit... and since I would have had to kill him if he'd done that with this project, I was only trying to help him avoid death by keeping him away.)
The point of all this is that the construction of this shawl means that rows in the center of the shawl uses less yarn than rows at the the outer edges. Even taking this into account, when I reached the half-way point in the rows and it seemed like the cone was just as full as it had been when I started, I began feeling I wasn't making any progress at all. This, naturally, led to wondering just how much of the shawl I'd finished anyway. I know there are online shawl progress calculators, but I decided to do it the old fashioned way... which is how I now know there will be 86,661 stitches in my shawl, including the border, and that when I finish the next repeat of the pattern (a mere 10 rows of 576 stitches each, although now I'm a few rows in) I'll finally be half done.