Friday, March 12, 2010

In Praise of the Ordinary

I call it my Everything Shawl. I've worn it daily all winter long and believe me when I say that's the last thing I thought I'd ever do. I mean, it's mohair. I love mohair, love to knit with it, but mohair itches and I have the type of skin that loves to make me crazy.

The shawl started out as Road Trip Knitting (should that be trademarked??) and it was originally intended to be a cage cover for one of the parrots. I intended to make three huge covers because mohair traps the warmth beautifully, is feather-light (no pun intended), works up fast and looks pretty.

And I had a lot of it in my stash. (Outback Mohair, if you're wondering.) Anyway the plan was to cast on three stitches, knit them, then do K1 YO K1 K rest of row for as many rows as it took me to reach the desired width of the blanket then start decreasing in similar fashion until I was back down to three stitches. Bind off et voila! A finished blanket that would be light, warm, pretty, and useful.

So I started knitting. And knitting. And knitting. And suddenly the wingspan on the thing was well over seven feet and I was sooooo tired of all that garter stitch. What the hell, I figured. I'd loosely bind off. Maybe fringe it one day. And I'd end up with a shawl I'd probably never use in a color that, while pretty, wasn't really me.

Oh well.

Then came the first cold day. I was looking around for something light and unobtrusive to drape over my shoulders when I saw the shawl. Now if you're like me, you haven't made many things for yourself. For some reason most of my knitting goes to someone else. Especially the pretty knits. So I grabbed my huge, kinda ratty looking, shawl (still unfinished! lots of loose ends!) draped it over my shoulders and laughed as the point scraggly ends puddled on the floor at my feet. (Which isn't easy since I'm 5'9" tall. We're talking a lot of shawl here.) What to do? Why not harken back to my European ancestors and wrap the ends across my chest, bring them around back, then forward again to knot them at the waist. Hey! I kind of liked it. The shawl was securely in place. I was warm but not too warm. And it didn't look half bad.

And that was when I fell in love. The shawl isn't pretty. it isn't fashionable. It isn't even finished. But I love it beyond reason. I love it so much that I slept with it over my shoulders every single night. I wrote with it around my shoulders every single day. (I'm wearing it right now.) I draped it over my head to run out for the mail on snowy days. I plunged my fingers through the big accomodating garter stitch holes when I didn't have my hand warmers right next to me.

If anything ever happened to the shawl I would throw it a big funeral and sit right down and knit up another one.

The picture below shows my other two comfort knit favorites of 2010: the socks are from Wendy Johnson's Knit Simple pattern, knit up in Regia Softy. Fun to knit with, incredibly soft and cozy, but they shed inside like a chinchilla so beware when you wash them. The hand warmers are my favorite default pattern - Bonne M. Burns's Voodoo Handwarmers from Knitty a few years back - done up in good old Lion Brand Wool-Ease in denim. I can't tell you how many times they've been through the washer and dryer. I would be lost without them.

Do you have any well-worn favorites?

PS: Thanks for all the great Road Trip suggestions! I'll contact you over the weekend w/questions and hope to mail out yarn next week. xoxo


Blogger Guernseygal said...

The first shawl I ever knit was a Birch from Rowan in KSH - it is still the lightest, warmest, most go to shawl that I own and trust me I have LOTS of shawls

4:10 PM  
Blogger Mareva by Seriouslyono said...

I was emailing a comment and the computer screen went dark so maybe the email is floating in space..Anyway we've all knit something unusual that becomes our love, and is worn until someone rips it off our body in order to preserve sanity..How are the cold parrots doing?

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

My two wear-everyday knits are the February Lady cardigan--that I switched the lace to stockinette on, used completely the wrong yarn for something that's going to get that much wear, and the neck is stretching out on. I'm in the process of making another cardi--one with sleeves that won't try to light themselves on fire when I'm cooking or grab the corners of the changing table when I'm changing the toddler. The other is....a faux mohair shawl (Symphony, I think, by Red Heart), in pretty much the same color (slate blue) as my Feb. Lady, knit on US 10.5s, as the same pattern you used, but not as big. It's 5 years old now. It needs replacing. I was gifted with 8 skeins of worsted weight baby alpaca that seems to be in the lead for replacing it, but it would have to be overdyed--cream just doesn't fit in my lifestyle.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Dawn Brocco said...

I've always thought the Faroe ladies knew something with their tie-around-shawls! After reading your experience with your mohair shawl, I'm just gonna have to make myself one for next fall.

My current favorite, can't-live-without knits are always my thick handknit socks, worn doubled or inside handknit slipper socks.

And 2 cashmere sweaters I got on Ebay mucho cheapo last fall, which I've work all winter, alternating each for a couple days, sleeping in them, every night.

I'm wearing them out, but they were just $10 each and I've never had a cashmere sweater before, so I can't help myself!

Sleep in a lightweight cashmere sweater and you'll never wear flannel again!

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My all-time go-to knit is a top-down raglan knit in WoolEase green with tweedy flecks in it, ten or twelve YEARS ago. I wear it at least once a week from September until May, and throw it in the washer and dryer after every three or four wearings. I've used WoolEase on other things; I've re-made that pattern a dozen times . . . but nothing is quite as satisfying as that ratty old green sweater. Every time I throw it in the dryer, I figure there will be nothing left but a handful of green fuzz in the lint trap. So far, it has survived. As have I!

--Lynda in Oregon

7:13 PM  

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