It all started when I saw Renee's post featuring her mother's incredible shawl. Now that was a shawl, I thought.
I sensed a shawl was destined to be my first 'big' knitting project, but so many of the patterns I came across were kind of tiny. Like little capelets for your shoulders. Cute, but I'm too practical for cute. When a cool October morning sends a chill through me, I want to fully wrap myself in a layer of soft wool. A wee little capelet wouldn't bring the level of cozy I was looking for.
But as soon as I saw Karen's shawl, I knew. And the yarn she chose!! Well, I had to find some of that too. Thankfully, my local yarn shop carried it so I didn't have to look far. I peeked at the very pattern Karen used, but my skill set didn't seem to be a match for it just yet. I looked around on Ravelry and stumbled upon the Harry Shawl. Perfect! I loved the stitching, particularly that is wasn't too lacy - I do love lacy shawls - but true to form, I was going for warmth over style.
I don't have my knitting vocabulary down well enough yet to tell you the ins and outs of this pattern, other than to say I thought it was fairly simple. My brain works in its own special way however and I had to discard the written instructions at a certain point and just go with how the picture looked and how the stitches flowed as I was knitting. I don't now what this intuitive method would be called, but I've applied it to sewing before as well.
Adam gave me my first sewing machine for my 29th birthday. Up until that point I hadn't really sewn anything since eighth grade home ec class, but I was thrilled to sew simple projects - as wonky as they were sure to be. Just a few months passed and a friend asked if I would help sew the costumes for her daughter's school production of Alice in Wonderland.
She wouldn't let me wiggle my way out of it and before I could escape down the rabbit hole I was knee deep in blue sequined and white satin fabric, cutting out pattern pieces and hoping to turn it all into a tuxedo jacket - tails and all. Only the sparkliest, fanciest of costumes would do for the Mad Hatter.
Oh my word did I ever have a time of it. After much wrangling and far too many four letter words, I finally just stopped everything and tossed the instructions. Instead of those pesky step by step details, I thought about how garments are made... I wear them every day for goodness sake! So... a sleeve should be pinned like this, not because the instructions say so but because that is what it looks like on the shirt I'm wearing... lapels - well, i don't have too many of those but let's take a look at one of Adam's suits - ahh, yes - that's how you do a lapel!... pockets, we all have pockets - they should sit like so... and that logic my friends is how I wound up making my first and only tuxedo jacket.
When I got stuck a few times on this shawl I used the same method. Instructions were cast aside and I just thought about how the shape should come together with the relatively few types of stitches needed. And somehow, voila! We have ourselves a shawl.
Early in the summer I got the idea that it would be fun to enter something in one of the country fairs in my area. This shawl had come off the needles in late June, so it seemed like a good candidate for my entry. Sure, I kinda felt like I had no business entering a fair when I can still count on one hand the number of things I've knitted. But you know... why not... fairs are fun and I'd like to hang out with folks who enter handmade or homegrown wares in the country fair. So off to the fair we went!
I love small country fairs so much. The animals, the colors, the late summer sunshine. My very favorite part was hanging out near the animals on Sunday evening. It was the last day of the fair and the animals were all being moved to their trailers while the pens were broken down. Seeing young folks tend to their animals with incredible strength and care (it turns out those 600 pound cows really do not want to go back in the trailers), with manure caked boots and sun-kissed shoulders... it's difficult to explain, but there was just something about watching this kind of work that made me feel at peace. Witnessing the ability and selflessness these young adults and children displayed was comforting. I could have watched them forever.
Eventually I went to collect my shawl from a barn that held all kinds of crafts and blue ribbon vegetables. What a sight! I always think of the gardeners in Wallace and Gromit when visiting all those award winning vegetables.
Speaking of blue ribbons, much to my surprise...
... well, how about that. What an exciting day at the fair.