Shawl for Emily

Joining another family with marriage is an awesome thing, with many perks, but one teensy disadvantage is that it potentially doubles the number of Christmas presents one is responsible for every year. With both Jared and I as one of four, and mostly married on Jared’s side, it was a stroke of genius to implement a sibling gift exchange: secret Santa for siblings.

And this year, I finally got my sister-in-law, Emily.

She who has four fun and creditable little boys, she who is a childbirth nurse and has answered any number of panicked late-night phone calls and texts, she who manages still to be a highly competent and efficient knitter. It’s a little miracle to be related, by a distance of two marriages, to someone with whom I have so many interests in common.

She is someone I was determined to knit something nice for, and this Christmas finally provided the excuse.

In the great pile of knitting that I decided, mid-October, that I wanted to accomplish, there was one thing that absolutely needed to get done. I cast it on first, I worked on it exclusively, I fussed over every detail, and I finished it in a month.


The pattern is Longfellow, a crescent shawl whose lace pattern explodes into intricacy at the end. It’s beautiful and clever, lace well beyond my brain’s ability to invent.

My one critique is the cast-on. The instructions have you cast on over a larger size needle, but this does not provide nearly enough slack to compensate for the first or second row, which triples the number of stitches. I would have had to hold two 8s together to get a cast on loose enough. As it was, I just waited until I had finished the rest of the shawl, then picked out the cast on and increase row, and bound off the larger number of stitches normally.

That might have made the resulting shawl less crescent-y, but I prefer that. I find in wearing that if a shawl actually has a defined crescent shape, that just translates into the ends spiraling – inevitably with wrong side out. I didn’t go to all this trouble on a lace border for it to just look like a fussy ruffle.

My only other winge is that the crochet bind off takes forever and is so tedious. And what a horror to block! But it kinda makes the whole thing. And N was quite the little helper when the time came to pull the pins out and put them back in the pin box. (Which I then knocked on the carpet. Sigh.)

Bless me, I threw out the yarn label last week, but this skein had sufficient tenure in the stash that it’s actually listed in my long-neglected Ravelry stash page. It’s Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Lace, nearly 900 yards, in colorway “24.” I picked it up years ago when Jared and I were first yarn crawling in Rhode Island. 100% alpaca, plenty sturdy, but more or less a cloud.

It was a wee stretch to make something so – what’s the word? decorative? The closest I can come up with is “furfura,” the adjective used by Zoe of Kayleigh’s pink dress – for someone whose life is so demandingly practical. But hey: warmth is always practical. And as my own life becomes more and more demandingly practical, I need those bits of beauty more and more. They are all the more precious for being snuck onto the edges of something useful.

You’re so worth it, Em! Merry Christmas!

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