The Story Shawl

My husband and I went on an Outward Bound Dogsledding expedition in 2006. When we got back, I went shopping with a friend of mine in Wisconsin and found some incredible silk and mohair yarn that looked like sunrise on snow. Still under the influence of the Boundary Waters and our experiences there, I set to work on a shawl that would tell our story.

The border is eight stitches, one for each person in the party. I chose a seed stitch to symbolize life and growing. Just like in a garden, people can come together and learn to support each other in the same space but not taking the other’s light or nutrients. We form symbiotic relationships.

I added a row of lace yarn-overs, the holes symbolizing the fact that when we came together, we weren’t a team. We were eight separate individuals, but not one unit. We separated into two teams of four; three students with an instructor. One day the students were with the dogsled, one day they were skiing. The instructors had a two-day cycle, two days on the sled, two days on skis. I chose a basketweave pattern of K4, P4, four rows each, every so often going for eight rows to symbolize the instructors.

At one point in the middle of knitting, when I had about a hundred stitches on the needles, I decided to try an alternate basketweave stitch that I found in a book, thinking it was the “right” way to do it.

It looked totally wrong.

Faced with the decision of unknitting three rows of over a hundred stitches, it occurred to me that this was a perfect metaphor for the middle portion of an expedition. You know your mates well enough to identify their quirks and likes, and well enough for little frictions to pop up. After all, you’re adults enclosed in a vast and threatening wilderness with these other individuals for hours at a time.

It was exactly right.

I left the stitches in and completed the shawl. Eight rows from the end I dropped the yarn-overs, symbolizing that by the time we arrived back at Home Place, we were a team.

The bind-off is done in a sewing needle bind-off that took about six hours to complete. Incredibly detailed, it nonetheless creates a soft, supple edge that doesn’t look at all like a bound-off edge. It’s springy and slender and adds to the beauty of the garment.

This is one of the most expensive and time consuming projects I’ve designed and I share it with you so you can see what can be done with two sticks, some yarn, and an idea.

3 Replies to “The Story Shawl”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.