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Barking Mad

Dear Ann,
When we last saw Our Heroine, she was knitting on a cashmere ruffle with 900-plus stitches. To say that she was clinging to her sanity would be colorful. It would be dramatic. But it would imply that she was making an effort to stay sane, when in fact, she had surrendered completely. She would have continued adding 6 stitches every two rows until she had a shawl big enough for a family of four. She would have kept at it until hell serves Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum & Coke over ice. (Which actually sounds like something they would serve in hell, but whatever.)
But eventually, somewhere in the sky en route to a 5-day fambly va-cay for Presidents Day, she ran out of yarn.
What to do, what to do?
Take a picture of the thing, obviously.
Never Say Never
This shawl, inspired by Terhi’s brilliant tweak of the Wool Peddler Shawl(Ravelry link), has shaken me to my core. When it came to shawls, I used to be very anti-triangular. I spoke of the unfortunate “Jemima Puddleduck Effect”, and my feeling–my highly personal, prejudiced feeling–that shawls start out elegant, but too easily lose their way and take a girl straight to Dumpy Town. A momentary lapse in posture while wearing a shawl, and people start free-associating words like “hunchy” and “doddering.”
This shawl has changed all that. The long–overlong!–tails, which I made using Cheryl Oberle’s instructions for the base of the “Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl” in Folk Shawls, wrap all the way around the front of the body on both sides, and end up dangling down the back. This turns the shawl into swaddling clothes for an adult. In a good way! It narrows the torso and somehow looks very flattering–elongated like an Erte lady–and also cozy. And also a bit over the top. It helps that it’s cashmere. Toss on a pair of dark glasses and you start saying things like, “I vant to be alooooooone.” Danger! Next stop: turban!
Working the ruffle, I continued making an increase on each side of the center stitch, but instead of “yo, k1, yo”, I switched to “make 1 right, k1, make 1 left”.
There is one final fussy thing I want to do, involving the wrong side, and hiding where the color change occurs. Then I’ll try to get a victim to model it, and then it will make its way to its recipient.
Mason-Dixon Brown Shawl Knitting
What I did next is kind of troubling, even for a notorious multiple-knitter such as moi.
I cast on another brown shawl.
This may be one of the very few instances when knitting something in Koigu Pure Merino is a downgrade in materials. I’m knitting a very similar shawl, in a very similar color, in merino instead of cashmere. I think this shade of brown, with its slight striations, looks just like bark. (Which is why I amused Hubby by taking pictures of it in a tree.) I’m knitting the basic shape of Cheryl Oberle’s “Wool Peddler” shawl from Folk Shawls, but I included the 2 shaping rows at the shoulders from the “Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl”–a vestige, no doubt, of my Jemima Puddleduck Phobia. The recipient of this shawl is very petite, so I didn’t think the ultra long tails would be good for her, but I still wanted a generous fit across the top of the shoulders. I’m on Skein 4 of the bark brown. We’ll see if 4 skeins gets me to a good size, of if another one will be needed before Ruffle Initiation.
The ruffle will not be black. That would be repetitive.



  1. Beautiful!
    I knit the same shawl out of Valparaiso from Artfibers last month. No way I’m giving mine away. You are a much nicer person.

  2. Beautiful!
    I knit the same shawl out of Valparaiso from Artfibers last month. No way I’m giving mine away. You are a much nicer person.

  3. I might pay good money to see you knit a turban!

  4. Fantastic! Really really. Fantastic. Can’t wait to see it in full photo shoot glory!

  5. I’m curious about the extra long tails. Looking forward to seeing what that looks like, on. (I’m not seeing the swaddling, yet.)

  6. Repetitive? No, you’re knitting with a different yarn!

  7. Someone told me recently that I am “crazy…but in a good way.”
    Obviously he hasn’t been over here to Mason-Dixon Knitting lately. If anyone is “crazy…but in a good way” it is you, Kay. This shawl business would have me rocking in a corner somewhere gnawing off my own toes.

  8. I have always maintained that a shawl is a very good thing. Especially in a draughty house !
    Your’s are beautiful.

  9. It’s beautiful! Any modeled pics? Not quite sure I get the whole “overlong tails” concept.

  10. “Danger: turban ahead” – LOL – this is very exciting – thank you for the tech notes. I am planning one in something tweedy. I’m most curious and cautious about the wrapping aroundness and the flop of the ruffle. Keep us posted.

  11. Embrace the Turban, I say!
    (Is that a black locust seed pod?)

  12. Way to get your OCD on Kay! You go girl!

  13. Excellent Habu-like photos, first and last. You got your wabi-sabi on, girl.

  14. I thought it looked like Koigu the minute I saw the ball of yarn in the tree(!).
    Koigu is my favorite, favorite merino. That said, I will report that Mission Falls Superwash Merino, sport wt., feels fantastic to the touch! I recently used it to knit a pair of “Fetchng” mitts, on size 5 DPNs, for a friend who has small hands. It was in an antique sort of purple. I only used a bit less than one skein. LOVELY! (Although, I cannot comment on the nature of the “superwash” property, as I did not launder them.) I am really grateful to the owner of the LYS (Flying Fingers)for turning me on to this yarn.
    Kay, the shawl is wonderful! I can hardly wait to see it on the model.
    A Little Secret: whenever you refer to “the recipient” of one of your works-in-progress, I always take a second or two to pretend that that’s me. (BTW, my birthday is just around the corner…)
    Knit on, into Oscar Night!

  15. I too have a phobia regarding triangle shawls but I like the idea of adult swaddling. It seems to romantic to throw a shawl over your shoulders as you he
    Lovely work, darling.

  16. oh swoon. an erté reference. i think i’m in love.

  17. Looks like my comment got a bit mangled. I meant to say:
    It seems SO romantic to throw a nice big shawl over your shoulders as you head out the door on a cold and windy day to pick up the mail. Must make me one…soon.

  18. Gorgeous! I’ve just finished mine too and thought ‘I’d really like to make another one. What yarn do I have…’ The Koigu looks great!

  19. you are making me want to make that shawl and wrap its tails around me! I tried that recently with my square feather and fan shawl, and it worked well. Even if my husband was laughing at me.


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