“The” shawl to date. I’ve completed 1.25 repeats. It’s a 40 row repeat over some 125 sts plus and additional 6 -12 on each side for the edging. I will do 16 repeats, then put these stitches on a holder and repeat the process again. Each half will measure approximately 40 inches. When they’re both done, I will weave the two halves together. That join will form the center, so that both sides fall to the front allowing the pattern to be the same on both sides. The pattern is a one way pattern, which means if I don’t knit it two halves the way I’ve described, you’d have one straight end (like the one you see here on the needles) and one with the lovely scallops, like you see at the lower end in the picture. The idea is to have scallops at both ends. I’m not sure I’ve explained that well, but I hope it’s clear. I must say I’m happy with how it’s turning out. I find there’s always a certain period of uncertainty about a lace or cable project until the pattern actually makes itself visible.
I do love watching the pattern emerge: I think that’s a big part of what I find so enjoyable about knitting lace or cables or colourwork. Seeing the pattern take shape and then grow out of simple manipulations of those loops of yarn held on a pointy stick just never fail to fascinate and enchant me. We do these things, we human beings. We take rock and find ways to drag it about, to cut into it and shape it and pile it one on top of the other in majestic columns, graceful arches… and we take colour, add it to various medium so it’s smearable and then we do just that, we smear it onto canvas, wood, and other surfaces so we can express our thoughts and feelings and observations of the world around us. Knitting is like that, for me. It’s the looping of long string over point sticks, and manipulating those loops in ways that represent waves or sky or simply just re-create sensations of calm (like the rippling cables in the sweater-wrap I knit earlier this winter) or, like this shawl, representations of core elements like leaves or waves, and in a medium that is light and airy, and blending those things together so that we feel both grounded and elevated when looking at it.
I subscribe too much to a knitted object, perhaps. But then again, maybe I don’t. The yarn is so fine (lace-weight, baby alpaca) it sometimes feels like I’m knitting a frothy cloud, and until I block it, that’s pretty much what it looks like. But when I smooth it out so the pattern becomes visible, I see leaves (it is called Autumn arbour, and so is meant to evoke images of falling leaves) but it also reminds me of waves, perhaps because the wedding I am knitting it for will be held on a ship in the Halifax Harbour. Weddings are, by definition, frothy and fairy tale events. But they are also foundations for many families and for our society.
I wasn’t thinking all this when I started knitting this shawl, nor am I always thinking about it while I’m knitting. These thoughts are too weighty and would add a heaviness to both the process and the shawl that neither can bear. But every once in a while, when I pause to look at it, these are the sensations that hoover in the very back of my mind, and while I won’t often pull them to the forefront in the same way I have now, I’m glad they’re there.