I joined a Sunday afternoon Dream Bird Shawl knit-along a couple of weeks back. There are 4 of us in the group and we all sat down the first afternoon and tried to decipher the multi-page pattern. This involved counting (and counting and counting) stitches, a funky cast on, and placing a ridiculous amount of stitch markers. I got really frustrated, and when it got to the step where you 'don't place markers here because there are already imaginary markers', I gave up all together. I got home and ripped the entire thing up and considered not starting again.
I have an amazing inability to not anticipate spacial relationship in knitting. I can't 'see' how it should go or adapt to 'make it work'. I have to have definitive instructions and follow them to the letter. I had the same problem with Eliz. Zimmerman's Baby Surprise Jacket where you essentially knit an amoeba-shaped blob and they when you fold it up-TA DA-it's a little jacket. Or in my case, you knit an amoeba shaped blob and when you fold it up... !SURPRISE! It resembles nothing even remotely close to a jacket. [Not for a boring, normal baby anyway. I put it aside in case a chilly baby with two torsos, a pencil neck and one arm comes along. Always be prepared. That's my motto!] At any rate, I was able to make a beautiful BSJ once Elizabeth's nephew rewrote the pattern line by line.
Taking his idea, I went back over the Dream Bird pattern, tore it all apart and rewrote it line by line. I took the 'Knit until you are 5 stitches away from the imaginary marker I didn't tell you to place' line and rewrote it as 'Knit 40'. It took me two days to rewrite. I thought I had it in one, but then I went to knit and discovered some mistakes and had to correct them. I think I ripped the beginning out and started over eight or nine times, but finally success!
The first feather. Once I did that one I started getting an inking of how the feathers were built but only just an inking.
By the time I had 4 under my belt, I had an !AHA! moment and then I was off!
I've got 10 now and it's starting to become 'easy' although it's A LOT of garter stitch. At least each feather is built the exact same way, and it's not too difficult to rip back when you make an OOPS! The long repeats in the yarn make it look a lot more complicated than it is. There are only two skeins of yarn. The back ground color (Knitpicks Pallette) and the feather color (KnitPicks Chroma in 'Ferris Wheel').
I am renaming it 'Bentley's Wings' and will wear it in remembrance of him over my back wool coat this winter. If anyone is going to tackle this pattern, call me. I can give you a lot of pointers! I perform these experiments so you don't have to!