Back in the Saddle

At the end of last winter - March, I think - Cassandra and I attended the Madison Knitter's Guild Annual Knit-In. It's a one-day event with vendors and classes and speakers. We shopped and learned and we got to hear the Mason-Dixon Knitting gals speak, which was not only fun but also the inspiration for starting this blog.

A lot of good things came out of that day. We met some cool people and got to know others better. We bought some gorgeous yarns and patterns. I even went overboard and bought my favorite, but expensive, piece of jewelry - a sterling silver needle gauge.

It's always fun to be around a bunch of like-minded folks. I just wish there were more knitting men. Sometimes all that estrogen can get overwhelming. But I digress...

In the marketplace that day, one of the vendors had finished samples of the patterns she was selling. This was a brilliant marketing ploy because, if you liked the item, you could buy both the pattern and the yarn it was knit with right then and there. I fell in love with a particular shawl. It didn't hurt that the pattern was by Two Old Bags which is, in my world, a trusted pattern source. But honestly, if I'd had to buy it based on the photo on the pattern, I never would have. I didn't like the color or the ruffled edge.

The sample was made in a color I love and with a piquot edge. The real conundrum came with the yarn though. The sample was knit with a raw Irish wool that was so scratchy it felt like an SOS pad. This yarn gave the shawl the weight and shape that I loved but I couldn't imagine having that wool against my skin. So, I bought the pattern and went on a hunt for the right wool.

Fortunately, I didn't have to look very far. At the second yarn shop I visited, I found a wool that was almost identical in color and had a stiffness that would mimic the Irish wool a bit.

I started the shawl in May, but only worked on it for a few weeks. It's tough to knit with 100% wool in the summer. It's just too hot to have sitting in your lap and touching your hands. I got about 40% of the project done before it was retired for the season. But now, with the weather cooling off here, I'm feeling the call of the shawl and will be picking it back up starting today.

Here's my progress to date:

Hopefully, I can knock out the rest of it in the next month - just in time to wrap myself up against the brutal northern winter. I'd also like to be able to wear it to the next Knit-In so I can show it off to the vendor (who I'm assuming will be back.)

Next blog from me will be a progress report and any tips/tricks on the "features" of this pattern - eyelet and piquot edge. Keep your fingers crossed that I don't get derailed by a warm front.

- Alex

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