Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gray Wool in January

I love the peace and quiet of January. Whether the sky is brilliant blue or deep gray, I find the contrast with bare trees and neutral colors restful. Simple meals of soup, fruit, and bread warm my body while quiet evenings indoors with a book, journal, or knitting restore my spirit. Early mornings and evenings, I wrap a shawl around my shoulders. These days, I'm enjoying my latest finished object, a Gray Wool Shawl.

In 2005, I began writing a story about my great grandmother and a gray wool shawl she made by unraveling yarn in an old sweater.  In 2009, while helping my Dad to the end of his life, I began the first gray wool shawl. I cast on stitches while I was at a Windbreak House Writing Retreat.  As I watched daylight fade from the short grass prairie, I taught myself to purl stitches using the continental method. Although, I loved the gray shade of the worsted weight wool/alpaca yarn, I decided the checkerboard pattern stitch was not something my practical great grandmother would have chosen.  When I returned home, I ripped out the stitches and cast on a garter stitch shawl.  After knitting on the piece for quite some time,  I admitted to myself the fabric was stiff enough to be a horse blanket. Once again, I ripped out the shawl. Eventually I knit a lovely warm sweater from the yarn.

Next I tried knitting a shawl from a lighter weight deep charcoal gray yarn and a beautiful Mountain Colors Yarn of deep variegated colors. The weight of the charcoal yarn was suitable but the combination of  the yarns created a triangular shawl that rippled in an unattractive way. Both of these yarns eventually became mittens given as Christmas gifts.

In July 2011, I bought some soft gray Frog Tree alpaca yarn spun into sport weight and cast on the Wool Peddlers Shawl. I adapted the pattern in several ways. I began with a garter stitch tab because it creates a more finished look. For the same reason, I changed the increases along the center spine of the shawl.  I also added one stitch to each edge because I think two stitches look better and are less prone to snagging. I finished the shawl on November 30, 2011.

In between all this knitting, I revised the Gray Wool Shawl Story several times. I'm still not certain the latest version accurately reflects my great grandmother's time and place so I'm about to work on the story again.  Like knitting, writing benefits from revision and new beginnings. Perhaps the quiet space in January will be conducive to a better story. Happy New Year!