The Tale of the Lost Shawl

I have been graduated for exactly four weeks now, and so far, it’s…alright. I had a lovely two-week vacation from work, which caused me to decide that my new goal in life is to become rich enough to not have to work anymore (Brandon: wow babe, that’s a really original life goal. I don’t think anyone else has thought of that before). I have now been back at work for two weeks, and it has been hectic, to say the least. We have driven down to Massachusetts with my friend Andy so that he and I could perform at the annual Crane Concert to benefit a scholarship for seniors at my high school (have I ever told you guys I’m 1/2 of a folk-singing duo?) We have moved apartments and somehow condensed everything from our previous place into one bedroom at the new place. We once again have roommates (which, as awesome as they are, is a big adjustment). We have had to find a temporary home for Skipper and Boots because they cannot stay at the new apartment (we’re only here temporarily and will hopefully get them back from Brandon’s mom soon). Brandon was flown out to Frankfurt, Germany by a company that we are anxiously waiting to hear back from in regards to a sweet job for him. And I have been trained on approximately 50,000 new things at work in 1 1/2 days and now am supposed to be responsible for all of them starting Monday. No pressure.

Despite all of this, there are a lot of things I have not done: I have not written out my thank you cards from graduation, or my graduation announcements (sorry everyone – I promise I appreciate everything you’ve done); I have not called to shut off the electricity at the old apartment – actually, correction: I have not successfully called to shut off the electricity. I have called roughly 10 times, and each time I get a busy signal. What business still has a busy signal in the 21st century?; I have not finished unpacking from the move; and I have not written any new blog posts about any of these wonderful things: until now.

Side note: Brandon, being the wonderful human being that he is, has just brought me a glass of wine. This could get interesting.

The story begins almost exactly two years ago, when Brandon and I had been dating for a mere three months and decided to move in together. He was 21 and I was 20, and we felt like this was a good idea for three reasons:
1. we were crazy about each other and being in each others’ space 24/7 sounded, frankly, heavenly.
2. Our new apartment was big enough that we each had our own room and our own bathroom.
3. After four months we would be starting our year apart due to him studying in Montreal for the fall and me in Dublin for the spring, so if we ended up hating each other we only had to live with it for the summer.

Luckily for us it seems to have worked out so far.

My dad came up to help us with the move and he, Brandon and I set about the task of packing up my books, yarn, and spinning wheel and moving me from my dorm on campus to the school apartments one town over. At the time of the move, I had been working on this shawl:

You can find the blog of the knitter who completed this one here.

It’s The Cap Shawl from my #1 favorite knitting book of all time: Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. This book was my introduction to lace, which is now my absolute favorite thing to knit. At the time I first laid eyes on it I was unsure of spending $30 for a knitting book. I was working at Northampton Wools, and I now shudder to think what my life would be like if the other ladies working there hadn’t convinced me it was a worthwhile purchase. I had been working on the shawl for about four months, and was a decent way through it. The shawl is circular, starting in the middle and working slowly outwards with each row becoming longer and longer, so even though it looked like I was most of the way done, I still had many hours of knitting ahead of me. The pattern was complex, hardly even a pattern by the strictest definition of the word; this was a piece to work on without a tv show or conversation in the background – just you and the wool and your thoughts.

My hand-drawn pattern notes

At the time of the move I was keeping the shawl in a regular plastic grocery bag, as part of my ultra-sophisticated knitting project organization system. In direct violation of my ultra-sophisticated knitting project organization system, I left the bag very near to a pile of trash piled up in the room.

After we were all settled in to our new apartment, I began hunting around for my shawl, wanting to continue working on it. Huh. It wasn’t with my other knitting stuff. Hmmm….it wasn’t with the kitchen stuff. Nor was it with my clothes, books, or any of Brandon’s stuff. Uh-oh…..I thought back to the last time I remembered having it: when I placed it down on the floor, semi-close to the pile of trash. I thought about Brandon and my dad, each of them having gone out on several trash runs to the dumpster throughout the move. I thought, and thought, and then very quickly worked hard not to throw up. Oh god….it had been thrown out. My beautiful shawl, months in the making, each of the 66,000 stitches lovingly handcrafted by my nimble fingers, gone, forever. Face ashen, I stumbled into Brandon’s new room and tried to keep my voice steady as I told him the news. Then, I broke down and sobbed.

Brandon and my dad both felt terrible about what had happened, and, not knowing which one of them was responsible, I couldn’t bring myself to be angry with either of them. That hangdog, guilty look gets me every time. Slowly, I moved on from the loss. I took the Jane Sowerby book down off the shelf and flipped through the pages, imagining which shawl I might start next. I fingered lace-weight alpaca in my new LYS, Kaleidoscope Yarns, and began to see new projects coming together in my mind. I have made two more shawls since then, and am working on a third.

This picture of an adorable ferret sleeping in bed like a
human is here to break up the tension of this terribly sad story.

Flash forward two years, to last weekend. Brandon, Andy and I had a lovely 3 1/2 hour car ride down to Massachusetts and arrived just in time for sound check at the Crane Concert. We opened the show with four songs, one of which I wrote last year, and had a lovely evening listening to all the acts that followed, including my mom’s band which featured a song with my dad on the trumpet. We had a blast, and went home sleepy around midnight. The next morning Brandon and I had brunch with my parents and then began packing up for our trip back to Vermont – we had to move out of our apartment that weekend and needed to get back. I looked over my home yarn stash, thinking I could use a new mix of yarns to throw into the stash I keep in Burlington. I grabbed some baby alpaca I bought years ago for a super secret project that may or may not be featured in a later post, some baby alpaca lace in case I want to start any new shawls this summer (sensing an alpaca theme? Good, you should be), and then my eyes fell on something right in the front of one of the cubbies. It was a little white plastic bag that I hadn’t noticed before. Curiously, I picked it up, untied the handles, and looked inside. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was my beautiful, half-finished shawl! I ran out to Brandon and my dad and shouted the news in both of their faces. Their expressions quickly changed from confused to elated as they realized that they were not horrible people after all, but good and wonderful people once more.

I have no idea how this miracle occurred, but I am too excited to care about the particulars. Now that we’re moved in I have begun working on it once more, putting all other projects on hold. Unfortunately, circular lace-in-progress looks kind of like some sort of weird hole-filled bag, but I promise I will post a better picture when it’s completed!

Have you ever lost a precious project? I’d love to hear your lost and/or found stories!

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2 Comments

Filed under Brandon, Crane Concert, Jane Sowerby, knitting, lace, Lost shawl, Northampton Wools, shawl, The Cap Shawl, Victorian Lace Today, Wine

2 responses to “The Tale of the Lost Shawl

  1. I was given a lacy afghan kit for a gift…8th grade graduation? high school graduation? hmmm…well, I made about 3/4 of the center square only to be informed of the importance of checking your gauge. My grandmother (who happened to be the one who gave me the kit) told me if the center square wasn't made to specs the border wouldn't fit around it. So, 45 minutes later the entire center was frogged. Since then, the center has been remade to specs, the border has been started…and it's still in a box. Somewhere…in the basement? in the boxes from school in SC? I suppose when (if???) I will finish it!!!

  2. Thank you for your story Martha! Learning about gauge can be a difficult experience. This is one of the main reasons I like making lace shawls…they don't really have to come out to certain specs, and if they come out to be too small or anything, I just fudge it (aka change the pattern) until it works! I encourage you to find that old box and finish the project, though I completely understand the idea of projects left undone – for more see my post 'In The Middle.' Happy knitting! 🙂

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