Monday, March 14, 2016

At Long Last

Why on earth do we knitters do what we do? There are probably as many reasons as there are knitters. And there are days when I wonder why I bother. I wonder why I spend my time knitting and then "unknitting" so that after hours with yarn and needles in hand, I'm right back where I started.

This shawl pattern called Summertide is meant to be knitted in colors that bring back summer memories for the knitter. I chose colors that remind me of the water and sand at the beach. When the sand is dry, it is a silvery color, pretty close to the lighter yarn color named Farmhouse White.

I started this shawl last fall when we were at the beach and the morning light on the water was exactly the color of the blue-green yarn called Silver Leaf. The shawl colors even matched the decor in our oceanfront condo. I knitted and knitted, sitting on the big covered porch, listening to the waves crash on the sand. For me, a perfect vacation.

This project was a mystery KAL (knit along) and those of us who joined in received part of the pattern—a clue—each week. Yep. We didn't know what we were making, except that it was a shawl and it called for two colors. There were hundreds of knitters from around the globe participating. There was a "gathering place" on Ravelry for all of us to chat as we went along. Need help? Odds are there were knitters who worked faster than you and had already figured out the hard part. Bogged down? Someone would cheer you on.

I was right on target to finish by the deadline so that I could post a photo of my finished shawl along with all of the others. Then life happened. Baby Girl got very sick last fall and was in the children's hospital for nearly a week. Most of it spent in intensive care. (She is all better now.) I stopped right then and there and headed down to help out. By the time I got back home to a normal routine, the deadline had passed and the knitters had moved on. And I had other things to do.

So my three-fourths of a shawl was stuffed into a bag until I could work on it "later." I had no clue how much later. Starting again was like trying to finish the last chapters of a book months after you read the first part. The pattern looked totally unfamiliar. The stitches on the needles made no sense. I wasn't sure I would ever finish but I hated to waste the effort I'd already put into this shawl.

Then online knitting friends began encouraging me. I had forgotten that the designer, Helen Stewart, writes her patterns so precisely that I was able to figure out where I left off. Still, I made mistake after mistake. I had lost my rhythm. I am excellent at "unknitting" (lots of practice) but this time, it was tough. So last week when I had spent forever knitting one long row and then even longer-than-forever taking out those 389 stitches, I shoved that shawl back into the bag and tossed it aside.

I was disgusted with it and with myself. Stepping away seemed to be the safest, smartest thing to do.  Big lesson learned here—do not work when tired. And do not rush. I was already months past the official deadline, so what did it matter if it waited longer?

But the end did come this weekend, many months after the joint knit-along was over. I feel a bit like the marathon runner who crosses the finish line after everyone else has gone home. But just like that runner, I'm proud I finished at all.

 Pattern: Summertide by Helen Stewart
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light
Needles: size 6

Forever, this shawl will be a reminder of a wonderful beach trip with Jessica and a frightening time at the hospital. A reminder that it didn't matter when I finished. It just mattered that I finished. That I didn't give up. And this beautiful shawl is a reminder of why I knit. It's about creating beauty. Solving problems. Meeting challenges. Learning constantly. Developing skill. Being part of a community. It's a good hobby that does all of that.


  1. Dianne, I have none of your wonderful skills of patience to tear out 389 stitches and the ability to pick up on such a complicated pattern after weeks of ignoring it. These are not anything like our simple prayer shawls we started making so long ago! Good job.

    1. You know when I crashed your knitting group a few years ago, I could just barely make the simple prayer shawls. I have been blessed since then to find one knitter after another who would teach me "one more thing." I never thought I would be able to do the projects I knit now. Another lesson here is "one step at a time."

  2. Your shawl begun in fall makes your heart sing in spring! It's beautiful!

    1. Thank you. I was pleased with the end result. But it's been 80 degrees here! Guess it also work in air conditioned buildings.


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