Monday, September 30, 2013

Design Inspiration: Eulalia Shawl

My grandmother Eulalia was always a warm, comforting presence in my life. She taught me that tea and toast make you feel better when you're sick and to never, ever stop having adventures.

Last April, we were planning a trip to Oklahoma to see her. She had been fighting heart disease for a while, and that spring, took a turn for the worse. We hoped to get to see her one last time.

We weren't as lucky as we wanted to be, and that trip turned out to be for her funeral. We packed our bags, I brought my knitting, and our family came together to say goodbye to a very sweet, strong woman.

With purple yarn that reminded me of her, I wanted to create some comfort for myself and as a testament to her. I cast on. I decided to use a little stockinette at the beginning and end of the shawl. The rolling inner and outer edges symbolized the lives that touched my grandmother and the lives that she touched. I think we are never truly finished with our life’s work but we wouldn’t have a place to begin, if it weren’t for those who came before us.

I had several false starts. I would knit for a while, then find that I had added too many stitches to one side of the shawl. The next time, I had too few. Then, I would accidentally knit all of the edge stitches instead of working them the correct way.

"This is a simple knit," I told myself. "It's seriously only four rows, for most of it. What's wrong with you?"

I guess sometimes you're just too upset to manage. If all I mess up is my knitting in those moments, I guess that's ok. Frustrated, I gave up and knit a sock - that turned out to be 4 stitches narrower than the one that was supposed to be its mate. I didn't notice the mistake until I started the toe decreases.

Back at home, I put down my knitting and cleaned out the basement. I felt like I was expressing my grandmother's very German need for order and peace.

When that was finished, I sat down and knit this shawl in two days. That's pretty fast for me. It IS really easy. I just wasn't ready to let go for a little while.

Nerd note on her rather unusual name: Her Germany-born parents heard the word (among other things, it is a type of grass), and liked it so much they used it as her name.

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