Well, I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to achievements, and this is one I’m very pleased with so I’m giving it a whole post of its own. I think it deserves one.
The first time I knitted this shawl many years ago , I think it was for my sister’s first son (though I may be misremembering that – the passage of time seems to shrink my memory of time spans). I did one ready for oldest son (soon to be 30) which was then also used for youngest son, and two at different times for my mum. I also did one for our god-daughter.
When I heard that the first of our great nephews / nieces was to be born this month, I really wanted to celebrate them by knitting this shawl again. But I seriously doubted my ability to do so. I haven’t tackled anything similar for at least 20 years, and nothing at all complicated.
On the other hand, the occasion seemed to call for an effort. They live in Australia, and I wanted to give a gift that was traditionally British, to celebrate that part of their heritage.
I discovered that Great British Yarns, an online yarn business actually based very close to where I live, stocks the very wool I wanted (and had used for some of those earlier shawls). I still had the original pattern. I contacted Sharon at GBY, and bought the yarn, or at least, the few balls she had in my chosen colour. She was so helpful, and we had a lovely chat about all things knitting and a few things family – a pleasure to deal with her, and to support a local business.
I made a start, and then hit an obstacle – Sharon hadn’t been able to get hold of the rest of the yarn I needed.
As I had fallen out of love with the original colour along the way, and the central panel had turned out to be much easier to knit than I expected, I decided to cut my losses and start again, this time with natural cream. She had plenty of this yarn, and this time I bought enough to finish it (a guestimate, based on weighing one of the earlier ones I’d knitted but which had been done with different yarn).
(I do have a plan for that first attempt, but that’s for another time).
And now, it’s done. It was off the needles last month, but it took me a while to get round to blocking and pressing it. As usual, I put it off and put it off, thinking it would take me ages, whereas in reality it took just an hour.
I have no idea how you’re meant to do this, but I do it by laying sheets and duvet covers on the carpet, then pinning out the shawl (with a pin into each ‘point’ of the outer border), doing it by eye and adjusting it afterwards as needed. A wetted tea towel and a hot iron provide the steam.
After this treatment the shawl looks completely different. I’m thrilled to bits with it, and I really hope that they will be too. Contrary to how it looks, my experience of using this shawl is that it is actually pretty hardy, and I used it a lot with both our sons when they were tiny.
And in case you’re reading this and thinking ‘oh I could never do something as complicated as that’, well actually – if you can knit and purl and follow a pattern, you can. The true genius lies with the person who wrote the pattern. Like many things in life, making it is a lot easier than you would think. Honestly, it is.
Next stop, to the Post Office to send it on its way. Though I’d prefer to wait until the baby is born – any day, any minute now!