Shawly you jest gotta knit more
Sunday September 07th 2008, 10:19 pm
Filed under: Knit

Lisa asked if I knit other things besides shawls.  I have, I did, I…

My Kaffe Fassett phase is described here.  Discovering his “Glorious Knits” helped really push me back into the world of knitting after a half dozen years’ absence.

I made a number of cabled sweaters, including a KF-inspired pullover with each half of each cable a different color.  It was a little like the time I made homemade tofu, just to say I had and could.  I knitted an aran for a friend’s son as a high school graduation gift, only, the knitting loosened up as I got more and more comfortable with the pattern and so I was unconsciously knitting faster and looser, and one sleeve, doing the same number of cable twists and the same number of rows as the other, came out, um… I cut the cuff and a bit above it off, reknit a new cuff downwards, and then turned the cut part into a small baby bonnet, chainstitching little ties on.  I took great delight in embarrassing the heck out of that then-18-year-old by telling him I was saving it for his first baby to wear someday to match its papa.

The kid is 27 now and got married this past May, a week after my son did.  I’m not sure if he remembers that bonnet.  (Although I’ll bet he does.)

I thought I didn’t want to learn how to do lace.  But it bugged me that here was a part of knitting that was beyond me, when I thought I was pretty skilled, overall.  I went looking for how-to materials, finding extremely slim offerings in the bookstores and finally driving way up to Lacis in Berkeley with specific ideas in mind.  The Barbara Walker stitch treasuries from 1970 or so finally got reprinted at about that time. They were hugely helpful.

When I started, I thought all lace had to be on size 3 needles or smaller by definition.  It took me awhile to let go of the idea that if it comes out all in a tight wad, that just means you didn’t block and stretch it hard enough. Not so.  It’s the universe saying, yo.  Use. Bigger. Needles.

So at first I made quite a few wedding-ring shawls, airy lacy rectangles that could slide through your ring.  They were and are glorious.  There were a few larger ones that, um, try to find a large male and borrow their ring for a moment if you want to slip your shawl through–and try not to flip the band across the room as the thing zips through.  Ask me how I know.

Little by little, bit by bit.  I got this little website going, in part because my younger daughter took a high school webpage design class. She put a few patterns up here. And then, after the Strawberry Pie shawl, I found myself wanting to improve on the design. I wanted something that would hang straight on both sides, which that one doesn’t–it’s more a boomerang shape.  I spent a summer working out some ideas and the basic template, knitting, not knowing how the crucial upper areas would look with the weight of the lower till they were done, and gradually I came up with the top-down circular shawls that became the basis for “Wrapped in Comfort.” The how-to-knit-lace instructions in there are exactly what I spent so much time trying to find, years ago.

I spent months and months knitting shawl after shawl: one for you, one for the book.  One for you, one for the book. No, not that color, knit another one for the book, no, that one.  In all, I mailed Martingale I think it was 29 projects and told them to pick out their favorites; each one I had knit at least twice if not four, five times, obsessed with accuracy.

After that, I was quite ready to go do something else for a little while.  I wanted instant gratification. I wanted people gratification rather than having to knit it and throw it in the closet like I’d been doing for two years.  I wanted to knit to give NOW.  I started doing a lace scarf here and another one there, and before you knew it, I was where I knew I had to knit one for every single woman at church so that nobody would feel left out.

And I did it. I knitted for every woman (except for the two who moved away in the middle before I got to them, and the blind woman who did not own nor want to own a scarf, to her seeing-eye dog’s intense disappointment as I took the proffered baby alpaca away from near its nose.) My favorite part of that 18-month-long marathon was Jo.  She’s a peach.  She’s still at about the same place as she was when I wrote that post.

I got awfully tired of those scarves. I know I need to knit more of them; we live in a university town and new people are coming in all the time, and who doesn’t need a welcome like that when you don’t know a soul? But for this particular moment, I’m back on a shawls binge and playing with new lace patterns. When you knit someone one of those, you’ve really knit them something. They are substantial.  They look wonderful. They pronounce of the wearer, “I am well loved.”  And I have to tell you, that never gets old.

10 Comments so far
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Okay, I get tired just reading what you have knit! I loved the story of the white scarf. I need to “get over it” and knit a nice little shawl for my pastor’s mother, soon.

Comment by Ruth 09.07.08 @ 11:52 pm

Thank you for blazing the trail for the rest of us!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 09.08.08 @ 3:16 am

I know just what you mean – there’s nothing quite so satisfying as finding something you truly love doing, and then just being able to do it!

Comment by PrincessPea 09.08.08 @ 4:56 am

I agree with Princess Pea. I love knitting socks, and enjoy lace and other forms of knitting. Am working on making Socks for Christmas as well as 2 Sweaters. Just the act of picking up my needles relaxes me and makes even the most stressful day calm down.

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 09.08.08 @ 6:51 am

You are a prolific knitter. Just think how many lives you’ve touched, so positively. And from your book, you’re touching even more… Cast a wide net.

Comment by Channon 09.08.08 @ 8:16 am

I am so looking forward to a piece of the year where I can wear your shawl to me for a little longer every time I put it on, California is still having a “too warm for this” phase, but I still snuggle in it for as long as the weather will let me! *hug*

Comment by Mary Seabrook 09.08.08 @ 2:20 pm

Don’t forget about the afghans you’ve done for those of us who need … a security blanket…to be wrapped not just in comfort but in a huge hug!
I feel *so* loved!
Thank you just doesn’t quite do it justice, but it is all I’ve got.

Comment by Karen 09.08.08 @ 5:25 pm

Thanks so much for your reply, Alison! You’re just a peach! It’s so wonderful to get a little more of a glimpse of your heart.

Comment by Lisa 09.08.08 @ 6:29 pm

Loved this blog and how your knitting evolved. Now, who wouldn’t love a hand-knitted shawl? I just received hand knitted washcloths as a gift and though I could have knitted them myself, they are so very special to me.

Comment by Joansie 09.09.08 @ 6:17 am

I love knitting a variation of Lynn of Colorjoy’s ‘Kristi’s Comfort Wrap’ to gift with, although by this time (I think I’m on my 15th? 16th?) Each gets modified a bit more for the wearer.
I have shawl patterns I made for warm-climate people too, but here in Michigan, it’s as cozy and comfortable knitting a big chunky shawl for someone as it is to wear it when it’s done.
I dearly love your patterns, too, but I need to have my brain working so I make them less often :-}

Comment by Diana Troldahl 09.10.08 @ 7:05 am

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