The Gift


A few weeks ago, I was straightening out my studio, and came across my printed pattern for the Ishbel shawl by Ysolda. I remembered purchasing the Whimsical Little Knits e-book shortly after it came out. I had printed the patterns, read through the Ishbel shawl instructions, and … put it away. The lace looked too complicated. Not only did you have to increase each row, but you did different things with the lace on each side of the center spine. I’m not sure if it was actually too hard for my skill level, or if I just thought it was too hard. Either way, there it sat … until last month’s tidying up.

The shawl was just as pretty as I remembered it. I reasoned I had several more years of knitting experience under my belt since I last thought about knitting it — why not give it a try?

So I did.


I don’t want to sound all puffed up or anything, but it was a perfectly straightforward pattern completely within my skill level. It was very enjoyable to knit — so much so that I immediately cast on for the larger size in a yarn I’ve had in my stash for probably 10 years. It’s sewing-thread-thin black lambswool, and just looking at it makes me squint and feel all thumbs! But, since I’m trying to make friends with these “too hard! scared!” demons in the studio, I felt that the time was right. I’ve wanted a hand knit, spiderweb-thin, large black shawl since I saw my first one almost 16 years ago, and I’ve got one on my needles right now. *insert the sound of me knocking on wood whilst crossing my fingers* It feels big, and good, and my beginner-knitter-Jackie fumbling with her first scarf in September of 2000 (yes, I remember exactly) is staring at now-Jackie in amazement and pride. eep!

A note about the yarn in my finished shawl — isn’t it beautiful? It’s by PhileasYarns. This heavy lace weight, Escapism, is half blue faced leicester and half baby alpaca. I love this combination! It’s soft but characterful. Lovely to knit with, and after blocking — wow. It has a great memory and sheen.

I have such a story around this skein. PhileasYarns had recently opened for business, and I saw a photo of a Scollay cardigan knitted by Sylvie with her Wanderlust DK yarn. I immediately knew this was the yarn for my Scollay, and purchased enough for a sweater. A bit afterwards, she contacted me — she noticed that her shipping costs were off and I had overpaid on the shipping. She was going to refund me immediately. I thanked her for being honest — the shipping fee didn’t set off any alarms for me and I would have never known! I told her not to refund it, but to surprise me with a yarn in her line that came close to the refund price. This gorgeous piece of sky and clouds was what she sent.

What a gift. Her honest business practices, beautiful goods, and kindness. An absolute gift. I’m not going to use a coupon for the yarn for this shawl because the whole thing feels like a gift from start to finish: the yarn, the culmination of learning enough about knitting to knit something I held in my heart as The Thing I Wanted To Knit Once I Was Good Enough, the confidence to say, “I think that time has come.” All of it. I don’t know what to do but pinch myself, and say thank you.




    1. And you saw the beginning of it in Phillyknitters! I still am so grateful to you for teaching me spit splicing!!! I still think it’s pure witchcraft.

  1. I love the intertwining of stories, materials and process. This sums up why I am not anti-stuff/anti-materialism, I just celebrate a different type of materialism… And oh yes, I came late to spit splicing but I agree, wonderfully witchcraft-y. And I love doing it when knitting in public. The baffled look on people’s faces is always a joy!

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