Take me, I’m yours

I am in love with my shawl.


There is nothing about this shawl that I do not like. In fact, I like this shawl so much that I am even finding the way that it sheds little white alpaca pieces all over my clothes to be the most charming thing a piece of knitwear has ever done. It weighs nothing…

It is only air with tiny threads wrapped round it.

It is beyond beautiful. It is after lace is blocked that I always feel most like I have waved a magic wand, or worked a trick.


Last night I showed the shawl to Ken.

“Isn’t it lovely?” I asked, floating the shawl through the air in an arc. “Look at it…” (this is the part where even though Ken is already admiring the shawl and not looking at anything else, I make him look closer. Ken loves this part.) “See the little yarn overs? Look at the yarn overs… It’s so beautiful.”

“Well” said Ken “It should be beautiful. You tied a really complicated knot in alpaca dental floss.”

Dude has a point.


There are many things I find remarkable about knitting, but nothing more than this.

This shawl, this whole huge and beautiful thing, this thing that took three weeks and a small chunk of my sanity (not that I had a lot to play with in the first place) is made from one continuous piece of thread. One long filament, wrapped and twisted around itself in a way that means that if you were to pull on one end of it….the whole thing would come unravelled in a heartbeat.

It’s magic.


Official details:

Pattern, The Lotus Blossom Shawl, from Fiddlesticks Knitting. I can’t recommend Fiddlesticks patterns enough. The charts are huge , there are written directions for tricky bits and they are creative, beautiful and simple.

Yarn, a brilliant find from a small farm just outside Ottawa. True laceweight alpaca (not the fingering weight the pattern called for). A good substitute would be the Cherry Tree Hill Laceweight Alpaca. I’m guessing that I used between 600 and 800m. (Please note, I am a notoriously bad guesser. Horrible.) I thought that changing the yarn might make the end product a lot smaller, but my shawl measures about 70″, and the pattern predicted 72″.

Needles were 3.75mm bamboo circulars, which I regret a little, since I would have knit it twice as fast on straights, but I wanted to be sure that I could get it on planes.

A wonderful weekend to all of you, especially to all of us Canadians who are celebrating May two-four weekend. Crack a cold one, open the cottage and plant something. It’s the start of warm.

126 thoughts on “Take me, I’m yours

  1. Wow! That is really gorgeous! I’m in awe of people that can follow lace patterns, without loosing their place or becoming so seriously lost that to continue knitting would be foolish.
    You should be proud. It really is a beautiful shawl.

  2. Did you actually READ the link about the “May two-four weekend?” My head is spinning but I THINK I’ve got it figured out: No sovereign’s birthday is actually celebrated on the day the sovereign was born, except maybe King George V’s and King Edward the VIII’s but, if their birthday dates landed on a Sunday, even *those* birthdays were celebrated on a different day. Yeah, I think that’s what it says.

  3. The most beautiful shawl I think I’ve seen.
    I suspect it would qualify as a Shetland Islands wedding ring shawl (can be passed through a wedding ring) or maybe the cute but pesky to knit blobs would stop it.

  4. Breathtaking. And now I have renewed hope that my tangle of wool dental floss will, in fact, resemble lace when I block it today (crossing fingers).

  5. Really? The start of warm? Do you mean it? I live near you and Mother Nature has screwed with me several times already this spring. You aren’t gonna mess with me that way are ya? I think I’ll go “crack a cold one” just in case. Happy two-four!

  6. Ohhh. *insert wistful sigh here*
    A friend of mine is getting married next summer and that would look so pretty over her dress. I must get my skills up to par so I can make one. I fear tangled alpaca dental floss, though. ๐Ÿ™
    In other news: how are the makeup sessions with mr washie going?

  7. It’s lovely Stephanie. I am really ashamed to admit that mine has been over 2 years in the making, is only up to row 90 and is nowhere near as beautiful as yours.

  8. Have a fun two-four weekend. Enjoy the spring weather, it looks like your shawl has so far. It is truly a beautiful piece of alpaca dental floss.

  9. I’ve already been itching for some lace knitting but you’ve pushed me over the edge. Must start a shawl.
    It just beautiful, Steph. Any chance you’ll be offering us a knew shawl pattern in the future?

  10. It’s moments like this that make me a little more sympathetic to alchemists … after all, if string can be transformed into shawls, does gold from dross seem so improbable?
    Growing lettuce makes me feel like a wizard. I love the colors & shapes of the plants, I love the taste in my salads. But mostly I love getting to say to my partner “I made lettuce where there was no lettuce before!” Magic. Gotta be.

  11. What a beautiful shawl. The gorgeous lace knitting I see on blogs such as yours has certainly pushed me to take up lace and I’m finding I love it! Thanks for the inspiration!

  12. Oooh. Please do not even tempt the anti-knitting gods by saying “if you were to pull on one end of it….the whole thing would come unravelled in a heartbeat.”
    I always find that saying something like, “things could be worse”, is a sure sign that they will.
    But perhaps the anti-knitting gods have taken up a permanent residence in my house. I have been stacking up many, many patterns – and the yarn! – to knit up as soon as I finish two ponchos I promised the daughters of a friend. Then the pattern (from a brochure by a legitimate yarn company, who shall remain nameless) took some time to decipher, then I knit ribbing on the front/back side of the poncho and stockingette stitch on the back/front side, and now … I can’t find the yarn to knit the second poncho!
    Please, please come to Nova Scotia to banish this anti-knitting influence. Your well-travelled sock is surely well-versed in strengthening the powers of good over evil. (We even have an alpaca farm/breeder with its own fibre and yarn mill. And at least one other also has angora goats and mohair.)

  13. That is quite a bit prettier than the original pattern. The laceweight is a better match for the delicate pattern.
    Also, I doubt very many of us (actually you, just you) would consider this “travel knitting”. Just sayin’.

  14. Beautiful! I’m sure the dental floss felt fabulous during it’s photo shoot. Aw…I want to finish my shawl now! I bettah get busy!

  15. I’ve just knit a shawl in lace… and decided, that it would take years before I ever wanted to have anything to do with lace again (I hate knitting backwards!)… but… now I want to knit a shawl like that! It is SO beautiful!!

  16. Stephanie, the shawl is wonderful! And I especially like the little bobbles. They somehow make the whole piece a little more lighthearted, don’t you think?

  17. Claudia said what I wanted to say!
    That pattern has been on my list of shawls to buy and knit…now I must. Lace weight, however, probably not.
    It is breath taking, Steph…awe inspiring.

  18. OK. You’ve done it – I’ve got a laceweight shawl on the needles somewhere in my house. I have to pull it out and finish it – after the fish. Must finish knitting fish first.

  19. Like Ryan, I read the link to the May-2-4 holiday and got terribly confused. Happy Victoria Day, whenever it may be, but wouldn’t that be a four-day weekend, since the 24th is a Tuesday? Or do we move it to Monday? Or what?
    Shawl is just gorgeous, but you already know that.

  20. Stephanie, this has turned out just beautiful, all the way down to the little points on the edge. Isn’t blocking lace just the most wondrous thing! From a lumpy mess to a light airy swirl when dry. I know you will get a lot of use out of this shawl the rest of the spring and coming summer. Maybe you will wear it to the West Coast? Myself, I prefer the circs because I can draw up the needle points and make sure I don’t lose any stitches, and they feel better on my hands for the long stretches of knitting.

  21. Stephanie, your shawl is just magnificent. You are truly a magician.
    Happy weekend.

  22. I don’t know about this May 2-4 business, (Victory Day is the 23rd according to my calendar) but that shawl is devine. Dee-frickin’-vine. I hope that you enjoy wearing it.

  23. Steph, it is gorgeous. I absolutely love it. You must must must bring it to the next SnB so that I can fondle. I am shocked at how different it looks from the one in the shop. I must make this for my wedding. Fantastic

  24. The shawl is breathtaking. I like how it chose to pose in a natural setting, too. I ordered the Lotus Blossom pattern a while back and it’s my preferred reading right now.

  25. It looks great. I like the little bobbles even. I have some laceweight alpaca that would be perfect for this pattern… Oooh, I have my own holiday in Canada? I am Queen Victoria ya know. I order you to enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. I thought the two-four in two-four-weekend had something to do with a case of beer…..perhaps I misheard.
    As for your travel knitting….dude, that rocks.

  27. Bravo on that beautiful shawl! Very motivating – I think I’ll go start some lace in a few minutes. Enjoy your holiday!

  28. For Juno, Ryan and anyone else confused about the Two-Four weekend : it is about beer ( a case of 24), fireworks and an extra day off.
    The shawl is breathtaking, Stephanie…and ..uh..how is the cherry tree doing?

  29. Holy crap – that’s one gorgeous shawl! I’ve gotta go now so I can start that shawl I’ve been too scared to try (not that it will be anything like this), you’ve inspired me. Have a great weekend.

  30. My first lace project was a Fiddlesticks pattern — the Triple Mohair Triangle shawl. It was such a simple, straight forward, and good introduction that I not only want to own all the Fiddlesticks patterns, but feel compelled to figure out how to design one myself.
    Your shawl is just gorgeous. I can’t wait until I have enough lace weight spun to get going on something equally beautiful. As always, you are an inspiration.

  31. That is really gorgeous! I’m truly impressed ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m am new to knitting and I didn’t even know this kind of thing was possible.

  32. I am in awe of that lace, I..wow..it’s one of those things that makes me feel like a speck in the universe of knitting…exquisite.

  33. Whoa. It’s positively gobsmacking gorgeous. I always enjoy seeing the result of your knitting skills. I think this may be the first time I’ve realized that your blocking abilities are legend! How did you DO that? My stuff never blocks that nicely!

  34. Yeah. “Travel knitting.” Yeah. “You have made a mistake….there is still time to correct it!” ’tis just gorgeous. So now you just need to dress in all white, all the time, so the little white bits coming off won’t ruin the effect. Or dye the shawl, perhaps coffee colored. ;-D

  35. Love it, love it, love it. I was just given a HUGE amount of laceweight alpaca by a friend who received it as a gift but didn’t want it — she doesn’t knit anything smaller than worsted weight. It’s been burning a hole in my stash, and I’ve been casting about for something to make from it all … methinks Fiddlesticks may have just the pattern I need to work this yarn up.
    Truly miraculous what can be done with dental floss these days.

  36. That is one exquisite piece of work. And thanks for the info on pattern and yarn. It is really something (and well photographed, too).

  37. Your shawl is lovely. It blocked out very nicely.
    For your readers who might be interested, there is a Fiddlesticks-along at http://www.ashidome.com/fiddlesticks/
    feel free to join us.
    I’ve been working on the Garden Shawl. Mine is in a fingering weight alpaca and just flies off the needles when I have time to work on it. I’m somewhere around row 200 (in the round) and if I don’t have at least an hour, I don’t bother picking it up. I won’t want to put it down.
    I love her patterns. They are well written and easy to follow. I highly recommend them, even for those with very little lace experience.

  38. It’s beautiful absolutely amazing.
    You turned this *holds up imaginary ball of laceweight alpaca* into this *holds up imaginary, but gorgeous shawl*

  39. that shawl is simply amazing. timeless. good work! someday i think i’d like to make a shawl; it’s just that i don’t think i’d wear one. not yet, anyway.

  40. One other thing: watch that Mr. Washie… When your kids are little and you hear something, you RUN, knowing the kids just did something. When your kids are older, and you hear something, you think, the kids just did something, and you ignore it.
    Our Mr. Washie is a fairly unbalanced individual. But late last night he completely came unglued. 2.3 gallon brand new Costco laundry detergent bottle, perched precariously after someone kindly did their own laundry… He decided the affair was ended and he threw her over. She landed on the lid, which broke. And now everything else is glued. Everything. The bottle is completely empty.

  41. The strangled bobbles really do make it.
    I’m knitting a razor shell scarf out of laceweight alpaca at this very moment. I hope it’s half as lovely as your shawl!

  42. Hi Stephanie, you don’t know me, but you signed the book that travelled all the way from Idaho to MSW. So now that we have established that intimate link, let me say how beautiful your shawl is. Would you make me one? I need it by next week. Thanks in advance for your time, your friend, S.
    (don’tcha love it?)

  43. perfectly beautiful.
    it weighs nothing.
    i just finished six and a half feet of lace weight chasmere scarf, about six inches wide, the Branching Out pattern off knitty.com.
    aren’t we wonderful?
    marie in florida

  44. This from my 14yo son when shown the shawl: “Wow! That’s pretty cool. You could make one, couldn’t you mom?”
    Not only do I love the idea that this young man child can appreciate the lovely shawl created by the Harlot, but he gets extra dessert tonight for thinking that *I* could imitate that art!

  45. it’s beautiful! i expect to see pictures of it accompanying you to many knit gatherings! it’s the new rhinebeck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  46. Wow… wow…
    Once I get done picking my jaw up off the floor, I’m going to make a nice hot mocha (we’re having northern weather here in VA- rainy and 50’s) and plan my first lace project for when the little people aren’t quite so little…

  47. Amazing, Steph! So beautiful. Looks like a spider web. (and that’s cool).
    Is knitting on straights always faster for you, or something about this shawl in particular?

  48. For all those confused people re 2-4…its Victoria Day. Victoria was born then. She was Queen forever. So now its still Victoria Day, and we celebrate whatever Monarch at the same time (though really i think what we celebrate is that beer comes in a 2-4 box) It is the 24th of May, in ALL CAPs, so it falls on whatever date the Monday is, so we can have a long weekend. This makes perfect sense to a nation that buys milk in litre boxes and call it a “quart of milk”, who buy coffee in 375 gm. bags that they call a “pound of coffee”, and keep living and planting gardens in areas where the last danger of frost is June 15, and the first danger of frost is Sept 1. where metric is universal, and house sizes are given in imperial. There you go.
    Barb B.

  49. I’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now and thought it was time to post a comment. Months ago I web searched “yarn” and “Yarn Harlot” kept coming up. After a few times I finally decided to check it out. My First Blog! I didn’t know what they were until I found yours and now I’m hooked. Yarn stores and knitting groups are few and far around here but I never realized how inspiring and fun a knitting group can be. I have learned alot from you and the rest of the knitbloggers and have taken my shy self out in search of local knitters.
    Loved your book!

  50. Fiddlesticks probably thinks it’s (they’re?) being flamed — which sounds like Nero while Rome burns. Demand a percentage.
    All that talk of weddings. You have three daughters — one shawl down, two to go? Handspun next?? (Hmmm… what =is= next?)

  51. Wow – the start of warm. My weather thingie says it is 19 degrees in Canada at 8:30am in Oz. It is only 12 degrees here and drizzling and I have to go to a funeral. I think we are starting the cold, but it’s only mildly cool by Canadian standards…
    I am almost inspired to take some fingering weight yarn and make a lacey shawl but I am a wuss.
    Lovely dental floss!

  52. a beautiful commentary on why knitting is such a magical experience. you almost (almost!) make me want to learn how to read a chart!

  53. i don’t know what it is exactly, but your post made me cry. you needn’t take it too personally – i cried the other week when some audience member from the ellen degeneres show got to go see celine dion in las vagas for mother’s day – but, what could be going on for me that these pretty removed-from-my-life events bring me to tears? anyhow, the novice lace knitter offers congratulations to the pro – i’m proud of you. the shawl’s is beautiful. knitting, in a cosmic sense really, is beautiful.

  54. ooooooooooo. drool. dribble. that is ethereally gorgeous. you inspire me. i received some lace weight merino and a lace scarf pattern from my gift fairy on KR last christmas. i think i’m going to dig it out. thank you.

  55. That is, without a doubt, the most beautiful shawl that I have ever seen. I have a 7 month old, and the fact that it took you only three weeks is beyond unbelieveable to me. I’ve been working on the same stupid poncho for at least that long and I’m only halfway done. It took me over two months to complete a stupid 5-1 rib sweater for my hubby!
    Anyway, enough about me. The shawl is fab, you’re amazing, can’t wait to see what you do next! Have a great weekend!

  56. Beautiful shawl! I’m always amazed at the magic of blocking. I avoid blocking whenever possible but you can’t get away with not doing it with lace. It usually looks like old crappy cheesecloth before and the most fantastic wonderful piece o lace imaginable after.

  57. I was saying something similar (though less eloquent) about lace the other day on my blog, just after finishing a lace scarf (even if it was much less ambitious than your beautiful shawl here). Knitting in general is amazing, but lace just – well, I have no words for how strange it is to think I made it with a bit of thin yarn and some sticks. So great!

  58. The shawl is just beautiful. I recently made a scarf out of lace weight merino for a friend and she thought the whole thing some kind of miracle too. I’m always amazed at the tranformation of lace after it’s been blocked. A complicated knot indeed.

  59. Last night I was sitting by the firepit in our backyard with DH- drinking a beer and roasting a hotdog. As I industriously stitched together squares for charity afghans and pondered why all the knitters I know get more done than I do- the fire cracked and a flaming coal the size of Pittsburgh landed directly in the middle of a pink square knitted by a sweet little girl scout. I’ve always wondered, can knitting be patched?

  60. Wow. That is GORGEOUS. Well done!!
    It dawned on me today, as I sat in lovely long-weekend traffic on the QEW, that this weekend is truly the start of summer. I was so happy I didn’t care about the traffic anymore. Well, not much anyways.

  61. that is beautiful!!
    of course, now that you’ve exposed us all to the fiddlesticks website, i desperately want to make the ginkgo tunic…

  62. never has dental floss looked so good… going to floss myself now and see what wonderful creation i can come up with dropping the used bits in the bin…
    really – it looks amazing!

  63. Brilliant stuff! Laceweight alpaca is pretty delicious yarn – I need to go spin me some of that! Enjoy your shawl.

  64. Beautiful shawl, Stephanie! Crayonbrain (of crayonbrain’s knitting drivel) made one of these same lotus blossom shawls using 5 colors of Koigu a la Charlotte’s Web. Now that I’ve seen it in alpaca as well, I just love it! (And by the way, I’m one of your hordes of fans who just thinks you’re great. ๐Ÿ™‚

  65. Oh — I just saw that crayonbrain has discontinued blogging — what a shame! You would have loved seeing her Lotus Blossom. Don’t bother googling her now.

  66. I’m just echoing here, it’s such a beauty! I think what makes it so is the details, and work put on it. You’re so talented, I’m a fan ๐Ÿ˜‰

  67. Wow, along with a beautiful shawl are great pictures of trillium (large flowered from the look of it) and what looked like a white violet, and were those the leaves of starflower? Do these plants grow in your yard?
    If so I bow down not only to your lace knitting ability but am envious of your yard.

  68. I completely agree with you re Fiddlesticks patterns – complex knitting made easy. Very different from the Vouge or is that Vague pattern I’m knitting. The shawl is beautiful,

  69. Hi Steph…you have just knit the most beautiful shawl I have ever seen!! In only 3 weeks!! Amazing! I would have been knitting FOREVER!
    Job well done.

  70. Your shawl is so beautiful! I never thought I would knit a shawl. I have crocheted a couple of them but never really considered knitting one….until now! Thanks…the list of things I want to knit is already taking me into my afterlife. There must be knitting in heaven don’t ya think?

  71. It’s gorgeous Stephanie! It’s so light and airy. I took a class with Cheryl Oberle and she says that if you think you are not a shawl person, you just haven’t found a shawl you like yet.

  72. Your shawl is absolutely stunning. I have a shawl addiction, and I must say as a fibre junkie Alpaca is a fave of mine. I have never knit with it but have woven some.

  73. I love to read and laugh at your adventures, and all your knitting has inspired me, so right now I’m working on my first shawl. Ok, it’s extremely simple pattern by Fleece Artist (ohmygod I love the wool) but we all have to start somewhere! Likewise, I’ve taken to blogging as well. Not so much expecting to people to read it, but using it to document projects for motivation and a sense of accomplishement.

  74. It took me longer to read this blog from start to present day (which I accomplished today — hooray! I can finally live in the moment) than it took you to create that magnificant piece of art.
    Holy Sheep that’s gorgeous.

  75. The shawl is lovely and congratulations on your book review in the 5/15/05 edition of Booklist. This is the favorite review journal for most librarians.

  76. Steph, I saw that female Anglican bishop being interviewed after performing a church service attended by the Queen in Jasper yesterday. They asked her if she had been nervous and she started to say something about not wanting to embarass herself or the diocese, and I could have sworn she was going to say, “And I hoped I wouldn’t say arse too much.”

  77. well let me just chime in with a “FANTASTICO!” ……it looks lovely, and I have renewed inspiration to get mine finished up.

  78. Okay, so miss world traveler… what recommendations do you have for those traveling with knitting? bamboo? circulars? bigger size needles? how many planes have you been on since you started your bookbookbook tour, and how many (if ever) have your needles been taken?

  79. Dear Stephanie – I’m off work for a while (probably until I find another job – the first round of BRAC closings are starting to hit!) – and I rely on your column to get me through these trying times. It always puts a smile on my face!
    Please, please, please write/blog today…Some of us out here in blogland need you – just like Joe and the girls…..

  80. oooo….It’s so pretty! I love it! I wish I could knit something so beautiful!
    You have so many comments!! I couldn’t read them all!!

  81. Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful Shawl
    (Sing to the tune of Lennon’s beautiful boy….)

  82. Your love is obvious. I wish you two the best life together, full of swanky Harlot appearances and cocktail parties, delicate washings and blockings, long bobble life and super-human stain resistance.
    You make a fabulous couple and I hope you procreate soon! Just think of all the gorgeous little shawlets that could be gracing the shoulders of your girls!

  83. How beautiful it is. What a difference blocking makes. When I use to do a lot of tatting, my husband called it “Thread capturing space” I always liked that

  84. I haven’t read a single comment, but I am guessing they went something like, “Gorgeous!” “Stunning!” “Inspirational!” Yada Yada. All I have to say is that you have made me feel even better about the lace weight yarn I bought while away this weekend. Everything I knit lately has a yarn-over in it!

  85. Started my first foray into lace knitting last night. Felt discouraged. Read your blog entry. Now feel encouraged. You rock.

  86. LOVE the shawl. i am currently actively working on no fewer than 3 lace scarves, with 2 lace shawls semi-retired. i can’t wait to reach the blocking stage. i have no idea why i find laceweight yarn on size 2 needles so relaxing…unless it’s because when i’m knitting complicated lace, my brain is too busy to worry about anything else.
    must be it.
    oh, and i love that my birthday is a holiday in Canada! me, Bob Dylan, and Queen Victoria. i’m in great company, eh?

  87. That shawl is so beautiful! What a difference between blocked & unblocked. Now I really want to knit one! Is it that frustrating to knit?

  88. I see you need some kid silk. I have a ball, shade 597, dye lot shade 174. You can have it if you want it. It would be a miracle if it’s the same dye lot as your yarn.

  89. I see you need some kid silk. I have a ball, shade 597, dye lot shade 174. You can have it if you want it. It would be a miracle if it’s the same dye lot as your yarn.

  90. No one has done more justice to the Lotus Blossom Pattern than you have Stephanie! Yours is so delicate and amazing! This pattern was already on my list of “want to do’s” but yours is heavenly! Thank you for sharing!

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