The Cold Shoulders

Sweaters are lovely knitted objects, but they take for bloody ever to knit, and are bulky to carry around, and take a LOT of yarn.  Scarves are sweet, and keep your neck warm, but they cover too little.  Some clever people get around the issue of too much/too little with shawls. I will honestly admit, I was not a fan of shawls at first.  They didn’t fit under coats the way I thought they should, they took up more yarn and time than scarves, a lot of people appeared to use them as interchangeable with scarves – so why bother?  And those that didn’t use them like scarves used them as decoration alone in a ‘aren’t I so cool’ way, which is nice, but not what I tend to think about when deciding what I want to make.  I want a thing that is both pretty AND useful.

A friend of mine started wearing her hand-knit scarves around, however, and I started being interested.  Yes, it was pretty, and yes, she wore it for decoration.  But it also looked warm.  And it covered her shoulders.  Her warm shoulders.

The other issue I had with shawls is that if you knit a rectangular one, it doesn’t fit around your shoulders and neck properly – you know, because humans aren’t square.  And if you knit a triangle shawl, it’s better in theory, and then the ends always slip off and the whole thing falls on the ground.  And if you knit a triangle shawl and then use a shawl pin, you’re right back at the doesn’t fit right around the neck/shoulders issue. And my friend’s shawls fit around her neck and shoulders smoothly.

Oh . . . . . .

Faroese shawls are designed with a back gusset which allows the shawl to sit on top of the shoulders, instead of behind them.  I never knew such a thing existed until there it was, and it was awesome!  Well, except that I am a picky knitter and I didn’t like that the back gusset wasn’t the same as the sides.  Hmmmm.

Okay, next I found a pattern which called for taking the usual triangle shawl pattern – two identical sides and a center seam – and doubling it, making a four-panel shawl.  Oooh, that was nice! I no longer remember exactly which pattern I used, but it was something like this one.  And off I went knitting.

The yarn is its own story.  Okay, so Himself went to Northfield Mount Hermon in western Massachusetts for high school, as did his sister, as did his dad.  And it turns out that every May, NMH has a Sacred Concert, during which current students perform with alumni of the school during a concert for the community.  It’s a boarding school, the alumni are really involved in ways that I will never be with my high school!  My sister-in-law isn’t usually in the States at the right time to go and sing, but in 2014, she was going to be around.  And I always jump at a chance to see her, and my FIL was encouraging us to go, and my SIL’s friends were willing to put us up . . . . so off we went.

While I can sing, and haven been in a choir, singing with a bunch of people from a school I didn’t go to didn’t really interest me that much.  I spent Friday night cracking quiet jokes with the campus security guard, and oh! did we have fun.  No laughing too loud, of course, since we were in the back of the rehearsal hall.  Sunday, I went wandering around with the husband of the friend who was putting us up and their three-year old, who was the cutest thing ever, and had a wonderful time.  Ran into a friend of mine, which as fun, considering we were both two hours from home!

Saturday, however . . . Saturday, I took the car and ran away on my own.  I went to the farmers’ market, and bought maple spread, and beads, and a pair of pants from someone I’d run into at the NOFA event the previous summer who remembered me because my mother and I bought t-shirts from her and then let her take a photo of us.  I visited a cousin of my mother’s, with very little warning.  I’d been whining to my mom on Friday night about nothing to do, and she emailed her cousin in the next town over and invited me for breakfast on Saturday.  And I decided that Bellows Falls, VT, was only an hour away, and my uncle had a store there, and I was going to go visit. Call first to find out if he was open?  Why?  If he wasn’t, I’d have no reason to go.  So off I went.

I drove up route 91 for a while and once I’d crossed into VT, I realized I didn’t remember exactly which exit I needed to get to Bellows Falls.  So I got off at the next exit and pulled into a parking lot to check my directions.  All right, still on track, and then I looked up and discovered this:

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I was literally parked in the driveway of a yarn shop, the Green Mountain Spinnery.

What can you do?  I went in.

I bough four skeins of yarn, a bright blue, a grey-ish blue, and two skeins of dark blue.  It’s really hard finding good gradient yarn, so I have taken to making my own gradients.  I had a nice chat with the shop keeper, and wandered off again, delighted with my luck for the day.

As it turned out, my uncle was not at his shop, but I wandered around a bit in Bellows Falls.  I slipped though a door into an old factory that had been re-purposed into artist studios, and at the back of the building, I came across a man making glass birds with his furnace, so I watch him for a while.  It was gorgeous.  And then I went back to NMH.

Somehow, none of my family that night believed me when I said I had just happened across the yarn store.  They all insisted that my yarn sense had been tingling!

So I cast on, stole a lace pattern from somewhere else entirely, I’m not even sure I remember where anymore, and knit a shawl.

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The shape is five-sided, and the fifth side is open for my neck, if I wear it open in the front.  Usually, I drape it over one shoulder, wrap it around my neck, and then lap the other end over that same shoulder again.  Warm neck, not bunched up, warm shoulders . . . .

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It’s lovely.  I wear it all the time, instead of a scarf.  Also, remember I bought one skein each of the bright and mid-blue, and two of the dark?

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Yeah, notice the thickness of the bands of color, as I knit from the neck to the outer edge.  Next time, I might buy three of the dark blue.

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