Things I did this summer

Knitting progress continues apace here at Knitting to Stay Sane, but rather than show you the 6 inches more teal green sweater I’ve accumulated since last time, or the swatches and sketches and wound yarn cakes I’m happily pondering, I need to go back for some due diligence on a finished project from the summer that hasn’t yet seen the proper light of the blog since it was finished.

You may remember that I was knitting the Peacock Feathers shawl this summer, and that I gave myself just shy of 2 months to knit it in order to have it finished by my birthday – which also co-incided with the middle of Sock Summit. I think the last time you saw it it looked something like this:


Or maybe this:


But I never did get any proper modelled “Finished Object” shots with it, and that’s just a crying shame, because this shawl is awesome.


I did, in fact, make my deadline. When I gave myself that deadline I knew it was going to be just enough of a challenge, but do-able. Most of it was done with about 1-2 hours of knitting each day, and some days all I did was two rows on it and that had to be enough. I spent the 5-hour flight from Toronto to Portland for Sock Summit knitting most of the last of the edging chart, and the rest of it the that night. Then on the Friday of Sock Summit I woke up knowing that all that stood between me and a finished shawl was the crochet bind off (which I’d never done before), and blocking and pinning out (which I had to do on the hotel bed, also a first-time experience for me). The great thing (if one wanted to look at it that way) about coming down to the wire on something like this is that you don’t have time to worry about whether or not you can pull off a crochet bind-off on a 600-stitch silk shawl while riding transit to the Oregon Convention Centre and waiting around at coffee breaks. You just do it.


I wore it around Sock Summit the rest of the weekend, as well as the local Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair here a month ago. It is an eye-catching shawl and I got a lot of lovely compliments on it. This shawl will get you noticed – it is big, beautiful, and any knitter who’s been around the block a few times will look at it and know that you had to put in some time and skill to get it.


I point these things out not just to state the obvious (because let’s face it, there is no denying the awesomeness of this pattern), but to emphasize the fact that nobody, not one knitter out of the many who have admired and touched this shawl, have noticed or pointed out a single one of the what are probably dozens of mistakes I made while making it. The whole thing is not a big flaming hot mess, let’s be clear on that for sure, but there are little imperfections scattered across it.

Most of them were fairly typical lace knitting mistakes, like accidentally mis-aligning chart rows by 1 stitch and then having to fix it on the next row, but other dumbass moves were things like me reading a double decrease as a single decrease because I was knitting it during the hottest month of July possibly in several decades and my brain was oozing out my ears, and then having to fix that on the next row. But the thing is, there are thousands upon thousands of stitches in this shawl, and I read my knitting as I went and made it work and forged ahead because that’s what I wanted to do. This is 100% silk yarn, and given the choice between an imperfect yet beautiful shawl, and having to rip back silk – I choose living with the imperfections. Beauty does not need to be flawless.


I love this shawl and I’m glad to have knitted it. It is a skills-building project that will ask a lot of your brain and attention span, but still allows you the restfulness of purling back on the wrong side rows, and the pleasant comfort of increasing every right side row in the same place through yarnovers, like typical triangular shawls do. Tanis’ mulberry silk yarn is a dream to work with (2.2 skeins for this shawl), as is the colour, and now I have this great shawl to pull from my closet the next time I want a kick-ass accessory. The pattern and yarn sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally cast on, and I’m glad to have dispatched them to this result.

What ambitious projects are waiting for you in your stash? You just never know what awesome things they could be.


  1. This shawl is SO much more impressive and stunning in real life, Glenna – I am surprised you weren’t mugged for it at Casey’s in K-W last month. (You know, just because I nearly did the mugging ;-))

    I have added it to my favourite list, but for the life of me I cannot imagine I’ll ever have the skill or perseverance to actually attempt it. I shall just admire yours from afar!

  2. That shawl is awesome Glenna! Definitely worth all the work.

  3. Someone once said if you can’t see the mistake from thirty feet on a galloping horse then leave it!

    I am a weaver and one of the native american tribes purposely puts a mistake in every woven piece as to not offend the gods by being perfect!

  4. That is absolutely stunning, I love it. I live with imperfections in my knitting and remember those rug makers who intentionally put mistakes in their work as to them only god is perfect…and I use that excuse if anyone says anything 😉

  5. wow, glenna. just gorgeous.

  6. Very nice shawl….I envy those of you who can knit such things! I am interested in picking up some skills of knitting, but I will have to rely on good friends to help me through it. I have done crocheting before and basic knitting, but it’s been a long time since I’ve held any such weapons in my hands. Hoping to get started soon. I would not be a threat to the gods for perfection! lol!

  7. christine m. east of toronto · ·

    bless you for revealing that this beautiful object actually contains errors, but thatyou plowed ahead anyway and no one can notice! i often get hung up on perfection and therefore end up not doing/finishing things because they won’t be perfect. i will keep your example in mind from now on!

  8. Stunning. And I love that there are imperfections. It sounds like a coming of age piece, of a kind. Congratulations!

  9. That is just stunning! And bravo for making it on the deadline, that is a skill in itself! =)

  10. It’s such a beautiful shawl! And no, no sign of any of those little mistakes to the outside viewer!

  11. Your shawl is so beautiful!!!

  12. That shawl looks fantastic. And it reminds me that we met in person because I was wearing my peacock feathers shawl which is also purple 🙂

  13. “Beauty does not need to be flawless.”

    That statement, right there, needs to be posted in many prominent places, in letters about two feet tall. YES.

    (and the shawl is mighty impressive, too. Nope, no errors visible from here. Just a really gorgeous piece of work.)

  14. I really need to get mine done, I have the pattern and the yarn, just lacking time right at the moment.

  15. Absolutely stunning!

  16. I really admire all the hours that went into making that shawl. And with mulberry silk too! (I’ve found silk a little difficult to work with because it gets so full of static electricity)

  17. It’s beautiful, and even more beautiful in person! I like that it has a few mistakes; that makes it unique!

  18. Beautiful knitting and beautiful yarn choice too! As the designer of the Peacock Feathers Shawl, I applaud your choice to correct mistakes as they happen and keep chugging along – truth be told, I do the same thing! I call it the fudge factor in knitting. Keeps it enjoyable, not obsessive (and let’s face it, we knitters can get a tad obsessive at times!).

    Thanks for posting such lovely pictures. I’m so glad you’re enjoying your finished shawl!

  19. Beautiful! Thank you for revealing the truth behind such challenging knitting…it is always great to hear that I’m not the only one who makes mistakes! It is so easy to get caught up in perfection, thank you for the reminder that beauty does not need to be flawless. Well done!

  20. “Beauty does not need to be flawless.” Words to live by! I have a half-finished Autumn Rose pullover that should be finished someday…

  21. B. Rickman · ·

    Bridgewater awaits me. I just have to get thru Christmas knitting and that will be project #1 for 2012.

  22. That is just beautiful! And I couldn’t agree more about being relaxed about mistakes – they are far more invisible than we believe!

  23. Oh, this is very lovely. I quickly learned to not be stuck on mistakes, because it had me redoing stitches for a long time.

  24. wow that’s just stunning! I would to love to have that skill. Mistakes what mistakes? I think its great the way it is. I am also the kind of person who would fix them in the next round instaid of frogging…

  25. You Knit? · ·

    Absolutely beautiful… I decided a while back that even with my mistakes, I was going to enjoy the process of knitting and wearing them… with mistakes.

  26. Holy moly cow!!! This purple shawl is insanely gorgeous. You have inspired me! I want to make a shawl and wear it everywhere now!! Love it. Love it. Love it. Can’t say enough how much I love it! The color. The pattern. Your pictures. Whoa a row!

  27. Just found your blog, so glad I did! Wow, what a gorgeous shawl! Right now I just finished a cross stitch stocking for my youngest and yay! I am allowing myself to put some new sock yarn on the needles to make a three and one rib for my niece. The colorway is psychotic pumpkin, I can hardly wait!

  28. Haven’t tried lace knitting yet, but that is absolutely beautiful. I just tried fair isle and loved it. Maybe I should give it a go.

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