Category Archives: The Cap Shawl

All The Updates!

Update #1: My shawl won a blue ribbon at the Champlain Valley Fair! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, all folded up and looking pretty under the Winner’s Circle banner – I felt like I was dreaming! I took my $6 winnings and had a grand old time at the fair with my friends Liz and Patrick, hanging out in the beer tent, eating all the foods on sale that were bad for us (this took up most of our time), and going on the ferris wheel which was definitely not terrifying.

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Photo Credit: Hillary Turner

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Crawford

Update #2: My shawl won a blue ribbon at the Tunbridge World’s Fair! This fair is a little bit different because they don’t give one blue ribbon per category, and that is the best entry. Instead, they judge everything on its own, and a blue ribbon simply means it was of a certain quality. (Red ribbon would mean that a few mistakes were noticed such as the ends weren’t woven in completely, and a yellow might be a bigger mistake like the seams were crooked or the blocking was poor.) My winning check (yes, check) for four whole dollars still sits, uncashed, on my dresser – I should probably head to the bank, get that puppy cashed, and go out and have a rip-roarin’ good time!

Update #3: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins in 24 days, and I think I may pass out from fear/poor preparation. NaNoWriMo is a worldwide self-challenge where you try to write an entire novel of 50,000 words (150 pages) in one month, which means an average of 5 pages per day. This insanity occurs every November and has hundreds of thousands of participants from all over the world. The neat thing about it is the community aspect – you get emailed pep talks from prominent published authors every week, can be ‘writing buddies’ with fellow participants, and most regions have their own chapters that host all night write-ins at local libraries, or other kinds of group support. The purpose is not to have a finished, polished novel at the end, but to have all of your ideas down on paper, that can then be edited and spruced up later. I have wanted to participate in this for six years now, but decided I couldn’t commit to it until I was out of school and had more time. So this, being the first November that I’ve been out of school, will be my first attempt! I am very nervous/excited, and if anyone would like to join me in this “thirty days and nights of literary abandon,” a link to the NaNoWriMo website can be found here, and a link to my personal profile here.

Update #4: The Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival was so fun! It took place last weekend in Tunbridge, VT, at the same fairgrounds where the Tunbridge World’s Fair and my shawl were held last month. It was a bit rainy and muddy, but a sturdy pair of hiking boots and a good raincoat took care of both of those pesky little problems, and the rest of the fair was awesome. I used my usual method of taking a preliminary sweep through the whole place, jotting down items/prices I liked, and then at the end mulling it all over with my wallet and going back to pick up the things I couldn’t live without. This time that included some absolutely scrumptious yarn from Nightingale Fibers that was 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere, 1300 yards of lace weight for $32. I nearly fainted at that quality and quantity for that price. The stuff is soft as a cloud and comes in many gorgeous color ways – and if you’re not into knitting lace, they have plenty of worsted, sport, and bulky options as well, in addition to their heavenly roving. I chose the color Bluebell, and I can assure everyone that I will be paying these folks a visit again – one skein for an entire shawl!

I also got a wool/mohair blend for a Christmas gift I’m working on, and then walked by a booth at the very end that stopped me in my tracks. Looking down at me from all over the booth were dozens of gorgeous needle felted ‘paintings’, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I bombarded the woman behind the table with excited questions for over a quarter of an hour, and then raced off to find myself some colorful bits and pieces of wool roving for felting purposes, which I found at Frosbite Falls Farm’s booth. They don’t seem to have their own website, but their information can be found here. The booth with the needle felted ‘painting’s’ belonged to Heartbeet Lifesharing, which is a farm in Hardwick, VT that works with residents in their community with special needs, part of which includes creating and selling the artwork. Which leads me to…

Update #5: I made this.

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Photo Credit: My crappy computer

I apologize for the terrible quality of this picture – my camera is currently dead. :/

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Filed under Crafting, Exodus, lace, Lost shawl, novel, shawl, The Cap Shawl, The Novel, Uncategorized, Writing

Ladies and Gentlemen…

Ladies and Gentlemen….at 1:06 this morning…..the shawl is completed.

I am in a sleep- and food-deprived daze…I have been knitting for 12 hours straight today, my homework is not submitted, and I have to be up at 6:00am (that’s five hours from now, for those of my readership who were not blessed with stellar math skills.) But the shawl is made. I can hold it and wrap it around myself and it is warming me up right now, and I don’t really feel capable of forming a coherent sentence right now I am so excited and confused. It’s taken almost three years to complete, six months of work, tens of thousands of stitches, hundreds of hours, but this piece is finally done, and I cannot wait to show it to you.

Even though the knitting is done, I still need to weave in ends, wash it, and block it, so I have made the decision to not share pictures until it is in its final, completed, beautiful form. The one thing I will share right now is this:

The Last Stitch

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Filed under Crafting, goals, Jane Sowerby, knitting, lace, Life, Lost shawl, portfolio, projects, shawl, The Cap Shawl, Uncategorized, Victorian Lace Today

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