Ages ago, I had the opportunity to purchase some Crown Mountain Farm roving at a really good price. I don’t spin, but I knew someone who was a new spinner at the time. My friend Micki had told me that, since she was still learning, she would be willing to spin the roving for me if I purchased it for her. Since the price was good, I figured that I had nothing to lose. I mean, it’s handspun after all, and even the most wobbly spinning is something of a work of art.
I had no idea what I’d get or when I’d get it, but I was in no hurry. Imagine my surprise when Micki brought me two of the loveliest skeins of handspun that I could ever imagine!
That was… gulp… two years ago! Since then, I’d squirreled my lovely yarn away waiting for “the right pattern”. I didn’t think I’d ever have a chance to get such special yarn again, and I didn’t want to waste it on any old pattern. Every now and then, I’d pull it out and stroke it, but the only person who ever got to enjoy its beauty was me.
Every now and then, Micki would quip about how long it had been since I’d received the yarn. I explained that I was waiting. She would look at me with a rather exasperated expression and say, “It’s yarn!”
So I made a New Year’s resolution. I swore that I would use the yarn this year. And I did!
When I spotted Ilga Leja’s Earth Maiden pattern on Ravelry, I knew that I’d found the right pattern. It had really long rows, so I knew that it would show off the handspun really, really well. I flinched a bit at the cost of the pattern. (At $12, it was way more expensive than just about any other single pattern I’ve ever purchased.) I mulled it over for about a week and then purchased the pattern.
I have to say that this pattern was worth it. The pattern was so well written and had absolutely no errors or confusing bits! I can’t remember the last time that happened.
I started the project with 870 yards (231 grams) of light fingering weight yarn. Since the original pattern was written for a heavier yarn, I wasn’t sure if I would have enough to knit the pattern as written. I ran some calculations after the first complete run through of the first chart and decided that I wouldn’t have enough, so I only did two repeats of Chart A at the beginning. When I got to the end, I realized that I would have had enough, so I went ahead and added a repeat at the end. The result is more symmetrical than specified by the pattern, but those who have never seen the pattern would never know.
The project was enjoyable in a “I just want to relax!” kind of way. Each row was 343 stitches long and took between 30 and 45 minutes to knit. Fortunately, no ripping back was ever needed, although I did have to dink back a half row at one point. I worked on it while Mr. Grump watched NASCAR, so I could watch too without getting too freaked out if my attention was distracted when wrecks occurred. (The fact that I had a stitch marker about every ten stitches really helped. Thank goodness that I have lots of stitchmarkers!)
And the yarn? Oh the yarn! It reminded me of the reason why I enjoy knitting. It was so soft and evenly spun. While this was one of Micki’s earlier efforts, you can’t tell! The yarn was soft and spun just tightly enough to avoid splitting but still loosely enough that it’s soft. I took the project to knitting and on a retreat with me, and everyone who saw it in progress marveled over it!
When I finished it, I was rather concerned about how rough it looked around the edges. (I’m not exactly the queen of consistency in the land of gauge!) However, I know from experience that blocking can cure a multitude of knitting sins, and this project was no exception.
The result is a shawl that makes me SO proud that I want to show it to everyone. I’ve taken it to school to show it off, and everyone loves it. I even had one offer to pay me to make another one. I doubt that will happen. Though I really enjoyed knitting the project, I don’t think any subsequent knitting of the pattern will be as enjoyable as the first. Life is way too short to be spent knitting projects that aren’t enjoyable, even if I could earn enough to pay for my yarn budget for the year!