January 14, 2013

Crazy Mixed-up Weather

This weekend, the 22nd and 23rd days of winter, as temperatures creeped past 60F, as the daffodils reached for the sun, I was reminded of the winter respite that was common in January or February when I lived in Pittsburgh. A few warm days would tease me into short sleeve t-shirts while the rest of Pittsburghers stubbornly encased themselves in gigantic, puffy coats. I dressed for the weather while they dressed for the season. This weekend, while I still dressed for the weather, I started a project for the season; a shawl.

I've never owned a shawl nor worn a shawl. I'm not sure how I feel about shawls. I tend to think of them as humble, serviceable garments worn by pioneer girls in Little House on the Prairie or elegant, lacy accessories artfully draped over the bare shoulders of lithe, high society women. Neither of these scenarios mirror my circumstances or my desires. So why take the time to knit a shawl? A shawl is essentially a triangular blanket. The idea of a blanket I can wear in public appeals to me tremendously. Plus, I have two yarns in my stash that are made for each other. I have repeatedly knit them together and repeatedly frogged the results. These yarns seem like they are just begging to become a shawl.

The shawl pattern can be downloaded free from Ravelry (although you need to register with the site to gain access). It's the traditional Icelandic three cornered shawl by Ragga Eiríksdóttir. It consists of super simple knit stitches and easy yarn over increases. That's it. Of all the patterns I looked at, I chose this one both for its simplicity which will highlight the yarns rather than the stitching and for Ragga's description of the stitch that forms the "spine" of the shawl: "Make sure to always keep the middle stitch between the two stitch markers… it’s a lonely and a slightly phobic stitch that really, really likes solitude and will panic in company of other stitches." I just love that.

The variegated blue and violet yarn is the gorgeous Itata Multy by Araucanía, a hand dyed, lightweight and soft blend of 70% super wash wool, 15% silk, and 15% bamboo. The turquoise yarn making the shawl more lofty and substantial is a looped (boucle) 100% mohair yarn. I think it's Ironstone, but I can't remember (similar to this). I purchased a huge cone if it ages ago when on sale as a mill end closeout. 

Declutterfication update: I pulled out all my nearly finished knitting projects - 2 scarves, 5 dishcloths - that only need to have the ends woven in to be complete. These aren't really clutter as they sit tidily in a big basket of knitting notions. But the unfinished-ness of them causes brain clutter. Well, rather than finish them, I started the shawl instead. I loathe weaving in ends. As far as I'm concerned, as soon as the project comes off the needles it should be done. But, as Gretchen Rubin points out in The Happiness Project, conquering a nagging task brings great relief and a buoyant sense of accomplishment. Today I WILL finish at least one of them. Really. I promise.

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