Sunday, 17 February 2013

Star light in a bleak night

 One autumn day when I was five, me and my sister (who was eleven at the time) got lost in the woods. We had been hiking with our brother, but wanted to go home before him. That was the day I learned that my sister does not have any sense of direction what so ever. We were not far from home, and the trip should only take about fifteen minutes, but it was not long before we became completely lost. We went in the opposite direction of what we were supposed to: so instead of going towards our house, we went straight into the deepest parts of the forest.

We walked and walked for hours, and the night became pitch-black, both because we were in the woods and because it was raining. I became very frightened and began to cry. After many hours, we came to a clearing in the woods. I looked up at the sky. The clouds had lifted and the sky was covered with stars. It was a beautiful sight.
When we came to the clearing, we also spotted the out door lights of some houses nearby. We went towards the light, and discovered that we had been going in a big circle, and had ended up not far from our house. When we came home, it was over nine o'clock in the evening. Embarrassed, but very happy, I went to bed that night.

I really wanted to make a shawl of the starry night sky through the foliage, as I remembered it from that night in the woods. In the center of this shawl, I used a pattern called "Star Light". The pattern looks simple enough, but is one of the most challenging patterns I've ever knitted. For the inner border, I used a simple leaf pattern, which I have modified slightly so that it will fit with the increases in the corners. I have also added rain drops on the leaves. The outer border is a variation of the wet leaf pattern, which I composed myself. 

I have knitted the shawl in a thin and hairy alpaca yarn called Air from Du store alpaca. It is knitted in a dark steel gray colour (no. 111) which is very bleak, as that night in the woods. I wanted to make a big, thick but light shawl, which cover everything and make it dark, but where you could just make out what lies behind.

That night in the woods gave me an experience that defined me. Now, I always make sure I know where I am and where I'm going, and I do not take for granted that others (espesially my sister) know. But it also made me an optimist: If I don't give up, new opportunities will always emerge, even if everything seems very bleak and without any hope.

Monday, 4 February 2013

A rose garden

Throughout my childhood, our garden was filled with roses. We even had a huge Rosehip hedge that smelled lovely, and which gave sweet hips during the fall. Apart from that, it was a pain in the neck. Every time you tried to pick a rose or a hip, your fingers would be pierced by thousens of small and very sharp thorns.

Within the Shetland tradition of knitting lace shawl, ring shawls are the finest and thinnest. They are worked in a very fine yarn, and it is possible to thread the shawl through a wedding ring. These shawls have large and elaborate patterns, and was used for bridal shawl in the old days. There is a lot of work involved in knitting these shawls, and I've only made one such shawl before. I really wanted to make a ring shawl with lots of roses on it.

This shawl is built in the traditional Shetland manner; with a centre, an inner and an outer border. I have used a classic Shetland pattern called "The rose lace" in the centre of the shawl. For the inner border, I have used two versions of the same pattern: in the innermost part of the border, the pattern is knitted on every row, while in the outermost part the same pattern knitted with a row of plain knitting inbetween. The latter gives more body and texture to the pattern, while the first (where you knit pattern on each row) gives a very elegant and airy pattern.

I have partly composed the pattern in the inner border myself. I planned to use a classic Shetland pattern called "Mrs Montague's pattern - as a fine lace," which I found in the Sharron Miller's book "Heireloom knitting". The problem was that the pattern chart in the book was incorrect and did not fit the picture of the pattern. This error also made the pattern internally inconsistent. I had two options: either to go back to the pattern in the picture or to make the same mistake twice so that the pattern became internally consistant. I chose to do the last because, if you look closely, this pattern looks like an inverted rose. For the outer border, I used a pattern that Sharron Miller had constructed on the basis of "The rose lase".

For this shawl, I used a very thin cotton yarn called Gossamer Cotton, which I bought from Sharron Miller's web-store called "Heireloom knitting". This yarn is incredibly light and thin, and runs 1000 m on a 25 g skein. I used just one skein for this shawl. I thought the shawl would turn out light and nice with such an incredably thin yarn, but in hindsight I'm not sure.

Because of the thin yarn and the delicate pattern, this was such an impossably demanding shawl to knit, and I simply could not be bothered to make it as big as I really wanted. And it is so light that the it does not really fall nicely, but rather curls up. Neither does it tolerate moisture without losing its shape (something that happened when I took these pictures). In hindsight, I wished I had knitted the shawl in a slightly thicker and and more heavy yarn.

We sold the house and the new owners removed the Rosehip hedge. I miss it some times, and whenever I think back on my childhood, it's always there. But I must admit that when I moved into my current resedence, I removed the Rosehip bushes that were there. They are incredibly beautiful and smells sweet, but completely unapproachable and impossible to live with.