I finished my latest shawl a couple of nights ago. It is my version of a simple pattern called Free Your Fade by Andrea Mowry and is mostly plain knitting with increases on one side and decreases on the other to achieve the shape. It can be as colourful or plain, as long or short and as fancy or simple as you want it to be. Great for a first shawl project. You can see more images of Free Your Fade scarves here.
I used wool that I had spun myself. My mother, Libby taught to me to spin when I was 11. I thought it was magical process and I have been spinning yarn ever since.
Years later I met my friend Gill in a playground in Perth when our children were small. She is a New Zealander and turned out to be a very experienced crafts-woman. During our time together in Perth we became close friends and knitted and sewed and spun and dyed together, sharing many a cup of tea, rich conversation, cake recipes and chicken soup and laughed a lot. We’ve remained close friends, talking regularly by phone or emailing each other and every now and then meeting up on one side of the continent or the other.
A few years ago I was visiting Perth so that I could examine in the College of Psychiatry Exams. We spent a sunny morning together in a park where she gave me some beautiful colourful merino tops (carded merino, prepared for spinning) and showed me how to use the Ashford Blending Board to combine the colours. I then spun the wool into the yarn for my shawl.
I started knitting my shawl when I returned to Perth earlier this year to keep Gill company after a hip replacement. She was inspired and started one too. We sat in the Perth sun and knitted our shawls and talked and drank tea.
Yesterday, I wore my new shawl at the College of Psychiatry Congress in Auckland and I saw two other psychiatrists wearing hand knits. We got talking and admired each other’s work and decided, only half jokingly, that perhaps we might start a group for psychiatrists who knit! Rose, another Kiwi who now lives in Adelaide is a passionate knitter and also spins her own yarn. I had seen her knitting during one of the presentations, whilst wearing a beautiful hand knitted garment. A not so secret handshake.
We discovered that we had had all visited Auckland’s small but well stocked inner city yarn shop, New Zealand Fabrics and Yarns, located in one of the many charming Victorian covered shopping arcades in the city area. Cher, the owner is an ex-Adelaide knitter and spinner who found herself in NZ through marriage. She is passionate about her subject and it turns out we had all indulged thoroughly and pleasurably.
She reported that there had been a steady flow of visiting psychiatrists through the shop over the preceding days! I am clearly not alone in having combined interests.
New Zealand is justifiably famous for its lovely yarns.
Touch Yarns have been a long standing favourite of mine. They produce an extensive range of mohairs and merino/possum blends. The addition of possum fibre gives the merino an incredible softness and warmth due to the unique structure of the possum hairs which contain a hollow core, trapping air. She also carried a range of New Zealand themed patch work fabrics featuring local fauna and flora and the odd thong. I bought some as bag linings.
After the conference concluded this morning, Rose and I took a taxi to KnitnStitch, a tiny but well stocked yarn shop located in the bottom of a house in residential Mt Albert. I bought some Zealana yarn – delicious blends of possum, merino and silk, and some beautiful Malabrigo wool for Ysolda Teague’s new Knit A Long. Malabrigo yarns come from Uruguay and Peru and are hand dyed in beautiful colours. are produced by a Women’s collective and are all hand-dyed with the profits returning to the women for community development. And so it goes on….and it feels good.
If you would like to start your own shawl or something else perhaps, book a place for our next Shared Threads Winter Woolly Workshop on May 27th from 2-5pm at The Little Space in Bondi Junction.
Looking forward to seeing you there.