memories, unicorns, and nature’s shades…..

start of the Moonraker shawl in BFL

At the start of the year I mentioned the Nature’s shades kal over in the Knit British Ravelry group, and I’ve been giving a lot of thought what to knit for it.  I’d ordered some really beautiful naturally coloured wool over the Christmas holidays from Brit Yarn which I’d intended for swatching so I could get to know and learn more about some British Breeds, I know cloth and it’s different weights and types but the world of wool is a very new one for me.

I’ve really enjoyed knitting swatches , discovering how a wool knits up and how it responds to warm water and blocking.  I’d wanted to get to know the wool I’d bought a bit better before knitting with the different breeds but what with becoming somewhat addicted to knitting socks and having a really bad cold the time for the kal seemed to be disappearing before my eyes.

woolly pips of natures shades

As well as not being so familiar with wool I don’t have a whole lot of knitting skill in my crafty tool-belt…embroidery,quilting, sewing, tick tick tick…but my knitting skills are only the simplest.

After deciding to knit a pair of socks in shades of Jacob wool we got a bit of blow…one of those evening phone calls where you know as soon as the phone rings it’s not good news…..someone very dear to the hearts of me and my family had passed away.  When me and my sisters were growing up she’d cycle round to see us, her bicycle basket laden with things from her garden and lollies in the Summer months, we thought of her like an extra grandma…and I think she was even kinder than that as grandmas sort of have to love you don’t they, there was no rhyme or reason to her kindness and generosity to my family other than that was how she was.

fat ripples of garter stitch

Anyway, her funeral is tomorrow and I suddenly realized I don’t have anything respectful to go in…it’s going to be held in a tiny little church in the middle of the countryside, one of those simple churches with white washed walls and an air of absolute tranquility ….the church is always cold, even in the height of Summer and so I had the daft idea I’d have enough time to knit a shawl in the Natures shades…(the greatest schemes of mice and men…)

Louise of Knit British had also mentioned another kal which made me smile which was over in the Caithness Craft Collective group, basically it’s knitting something that you’ve  wanted to but for whatever reason not yet got round to it…..I’d liked the Moonraker shawl for well over a year, when I was still thinking “oh I wish I could knit”…..and once my Open Sky shawl was all finished I treated myself to the pattern where it just sat tucked away on a bookcase….the “unicorn” kal really prompted me to get knitting it using some tapestry wool I had some right big hanks of and in that always making me stop, serendipitous way I find happens with my knitting, after a few rows of “pips” I thought…this is would be so right for Nature’s shades….

working the next section of pips

I’d already swatched some Blue Faced Leicester wool so I knew how soft and sheep kissy that feels, perfect for a shawl where you can bury your face deep down into it’s woolly folds, and I could incorporate the not so familiar wool such as Jacob and Wensleydale as woolly “pips”…..the original pattern calls for  4ply weight wool which I don’t have, so I’m knitting it in dk and am using a 5.5 mm needle because I’m quite a tight knitter and I want the shawl to have that nice drapey droop around the shoulders feel.

woolly pips of grey

I’ve spent a couple of days knitting and I’ve had to accept it won’t be ready for tomorrow, I’m not a very fast knitter and even thought it’s mostly straight garter stitch knitting there is a lot of it and my fingers are feeling the burn.

But while I’ve been knitting it’s given me the time I needed to really think about the loss of my friend, not remembering her once she’d become frail and confused, but when she’d been such a force of life, I wish you could have heard her hearty old laugh.  She was always full of good stories and I’ve spent so many happy hours in her kitchen listening to her chat away…..the kettle would be on as soon as you’d step though the door, a plate of biscuits keeping the tea happy compan,y the soft aroma of pipe smoke in the air, always laughter, always chat…..

third section of woolly pips

She wasn’t one for handicraft making herself but always kept things I’d made her….when I’d offer to replace gifts that had worn out or sunfaded she say “oh no, I like this, you made it, and when we look at it we think of you”……however she had the greenest fingers and any plant in her care flourished.

So when my shawl is finally finished I’ll be able to think of her, and have appreciated needed this quiet time where I’ve been able to say goodbye.

squished whiskers on waking

I don’t want this post to end on a sad old note, Joyce was all laughter, beaming smiles and happiness….and I thought this picture of our boy would be quite apt after the shawl, not so much 50 shades of Grey but 50 shades of Bernard…..the afternoon sun falls across our coffee table and someone has decided he’d like to catch those sun beams so he starting pushing things off so he could sprawl out.  I’ve had to move things out of the way and have put his cat basket up there which he seems to quite like.  If people at the bus stop outside our house are too chatty and loud he turns round and stares proper cross at them…he squishes his whiskers up as he tucks himself all round so when he wakes up they’re all bent over his face, only perking up after he’s been out in the afternoon air.


4 thoughts on “memories, unicorns, and nature’s shades…..

  1. You write so well. It conjured up so many images – pipe smoke? Did your dear friend smoke a pipe? It really makes a cozy picture. I love too that you are making the moonraker shawl, which looks gorgeous, and thinking back to your friend as you make it. Knitting can be so contemplative. All the best for tomorrow.

    1. Thanks Sally, no her husband was the pipe smoker and though he’d often smoke it outside the fragrant scent of it used to linger around him…they used to have a lovely spaniel called Dusty and if you sat in her dad’s chair then she’d clamber up and settel down in your lap. Their kitchen was the cosiness seen in the Beatrix Potter books and going through their door you instantly were made to feel so welcome.
      I’m finding the natural shades very soothing and the scent of the undyed wool is so comforting x

  2. Sorry to hear about your loss Ericka. Some people are just so special. It will be lovely for you to have a gorgeous shawl in memory of her. It is such a beautiful pattern. I would love to knit a shawl but I just can’t decide which pattern to go with! There are so many amazing patterns out there. Bernard looks so comfortable sitting in the sun there 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Sharon for your kind words, listening to people’s memories about her today was very touching.
      I know what you mean about so many beautiful shawl patterns which one to pick….check out the 4 colour Sheepy Shawl on ravelry which greenhousegirl has knitted for the Nature’s shades along kal, it’s so beautiful.

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