And that’s a wrap

Despite all my dread, the mending of the shawl went really, really well.

mending 2014-08-19

Like I planned, I threaded a needle with the yarn, and then wove it in along the bath of the previous thread, starting a little ways back. When I got to the break, I looked back at the path the yarn had taken in the sections before and after, and tried to duplicate it – imagining that the knitting existed (where it didn’t) and wove the yarn in and around.  When I got to the place where the yarn existed again, I kept going with the replacement, following alongside the existing yarn.  It wasn’t perfect – not by a long shot, but I think that nobody but me would be able to find it, and frankly, sometimes I need to lighten up on knitting perfection when it’s like that. This shawl has thousands upon thousands of stitches that were executed perfectly, and three that were replaced imperfectly, and that’s a test score of about 99.99%, and any way you slice that grade, it’s pretty awesome. I’m not going to harsh on myself about it.

mended 2014-08-19

See? Pretty good, if I say so myself. When it was done, I thought about lashing the overlap with thread and sewing it in place, but it really didn’t seem to need it. I did some tugging- the sort of pressure that I thought it would take while being worn, and it looked absolutely secure.  I trimmed the ends carefully, and then I blocked it again. This time, since it had already been washed prior to the first attempt, I just pinned things the way I wanted, and then steamed it a bit. I just used my iron, hovering over the knitting with the steam on high.

steamblock 2014-08-19

When it was absolutely dry, I unpinned, moved to the next section, and repeated until I had the whole thing done.  That’s no small feat, since in the end, this shawl measured over 2.5 metres (that’s almost 9 feet, for my American friends.)

finished3 2014-08-19

I took about a million pictures of it then – although I’m not going to show you anything but a few little pieces, because I can come clean now about what it’s for.  My sister is getting married. Pretty soon actually, just about five weeks from now, and this shawl is for her to wear over her gown.

finished4 2014-08-19

Now, generally speaking, I love surprising people with knitted gifts – and my sister’s no exception – but this gift is a little different.  It’s for her wedding day, and brides have really clear ideas of what they want to look like that day, and my sister and I have tastes that have about as much in common as avocados and porcupines, and I didn’t want her to feel like she had to wear it, just because I made it and she felt obligated. I knew the whole time I was knitting it that this was a risk.

So last night, I wrapped the whole thing up, and took it to her house.

wrapping 2014-08-19

Yeah, it’s five weeks before the wedding, but here’s the rub. If she didn’t like it – if it wasn’t what she imagined herself wearing- if it wasn’t absolutely perfect, then, I told her…

wrapped 2014-08-19

I am prepared to make another one. One that’s perfect. Sure, this one is bison, and silk and over 1000 glass beads, but I still want it to be just what she dreamed.  I knew the whole time that I was making it that there was a good chance that this wouldn’t be what she imagined, and I set myself a deadline so that if it wasn’t right I wouldn’t be angry, or put out, or really challenged to make another.

finished5 2014-08-19

That didn’t stop me from hoping that this was the one though.  Erin opened it, and she loved it. She thought it was beautiful (and it is) and elegant (and it is) and the right size (and it is) and that the beads were just perfect for the yarn (and they are) and….


She’s not sure it’s the right colour. It contrasts her dress, and while I think that’s perfect (and it is, no matter what she says – how else can you see the lace pattern?) that might not be what her fantasy wrap does.  We were looking at it in the evening, in a darkened bedroom – and I think she might feel differently when she sees the combination in daylight, like it will be for the wedding.  I am committed, however – to staying neutral on the decision. It’s her dress, it’s her wrap, it’s her day. (It is perfect though, and I hope she thinks so in the end.)

I’ve given her 48 hours to consult with my mother (who always knows what’s perfect) and then let me know. I’m standing by with different yarn, another 1500 beads and a good attitude. Cross your fingers. If she’s going to wear it, I’ll show you the whole banana after the wedding, and if it’s not right, I’ll show it to you sooner.

finished2 2014-08-19

It is perfect –  although maybe just for me.


151 thoughts on “And that’s a wrap

  1. It is stunning, it is beautiful, and the repair is hard to find even when I know it’s there and I’m looking for it.

    And if it’s not what she’s picturing, it will be perfect for something else.

  2. It is truly one of the most beautiful pieces of knitting I’ve ever seen. If it’s not perfect for your sister, it is perfect for a daughter or a mother or for yourself. Thanks for the repair lesson, too. I would have made a knot out of the ends and called it good.

  3. Fantastic mending, and what a lovely gift for your sister! best wishes to her on the upcoming wedding 🙂
    Hopefully she’ll like the colour combo more in the daylight, but if not then you have a gorgeous shawl, and the time and ability to make one that is perfect for her.

  4. Stephanie, that is an astoundingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful gift. I would be utterly dumbfounded to receive such a thing ever in my life. I really, really hope we get to see it on Erin over her wedding dress. Your sister is incredibly lucky to have you as a sibling. Mazel Tov to her and her spouse-to-be!

  5. Pardon?

    “It wasn’t perfect – not by a long shot, but I think that nobody but me would be able to find it, and frankly, sometimes I need to lighten up on knitting perfection when it’s like that.”

    Who are you and what have you done with Stephanie?

    • Ah, no– you’re falling for her trick: “It’s not perfect, not by a long shot”… even as she’s showing us a picture of a picture-perfect fix. I don’t think for a minute that if it weren’t so perfectly elegant a fix she’d be dismissing it with “frankly, sometimes I need to lighten up on knitting perfection when it’s like that.”

      Don’t fall for it! Still the same Stephanie, and so you can feel free to mention a certain garment which, perhaps, Joe might like to wear to the wedding?

    • I am a quilter, also, yes, insanely, my fabric stash is as big as my yarn. But what I wanted to say is the Amish put a mistake in their quilts, on purpose. Because only God can make something perfect. I never had to make my mistakes “purposely”.

  6. Pingback: And that’s a wrap | Yarn Buyer

  7. You’ve given her more than the gift of an incredibly elegant wrap, you’ve given her the gift of trust and respect for her choices as well. That’s absolutely amazing.

  8. {Breathing again} You did it! That right there is an accomplishment – and in my opinion to deal with adversity like that goes beyond perfectionism to real skill and daring! I hope it is what she wants when the light is right. I am confident that if you have gone to all that work, and made such a lovely thing, that if she decides she needs something different, she will do so knowing how much you love her and how hard you have worked, and it won’t be a lightly-made decision. Can’t wait for the next chapter!

  9. Yay! You did it! It’s so gorgeous I find it hard to believe she would prefer anything else, but, you know, you never know! Congrats to her and the lucky groom!

  10. How well I get this! I’m making a large lace shawl for my daughter’s wedding (seven weeks out, now) and I ran out of yarn about 3/4 of the way around the edging. Currently awaiting delivery of a “mill end” of the yarn from the woman who sold it to me; it’s the closest thing she has to what I originally bought. Fingers crossed that it’s a match, because I sure don’t want to take out that whole edging (1200 rows or so) and re-knit it every other row alternating yarns. Good on you, Stephanie, for your willingness to be flexible with your sister!

  11. That was a brave risk, making a wedding shawl without consulting the bride first. It’s gorgeous and if it isn’t perfect for the wedding, it will certainly be perfect for another happy recipient. (Or for you.)

    Do be sure you show her the next yarn before you cast on. 😉

  12. You are, hands down, one of the least selfish knitters on the planet. Sister or no, I would be hard-pressed to knit ONE shawl like that for another person, let alone two. I hope she loves it!

  13. Yes I don’t know if I would have the strength to knit two of those shawls. The repair looks awesome, and I can’t wait to see the glamor shots! I second sending this to Stevie Nicks if your sister doesn’t want it- you get it back, and $2,000!

  14. It would be wonderful to have a sister, mother, daughter, fiancée who thought enough of you to knit something so beautiful. It takes a truly special person to realize that what you love may not be what the recipient loves and leave it at that.

  15. If she’s very particular, and you want to make sure to get it right … is there any reason why you can’t just ASK her what color she wants?

  16. So let me get this straight: not only are you a world-class knitter, you’re an angel of a sister, AND you are stuffed with wisdom? Hmph. Hardly seems fair…

    (KIDDING! You are an example for us all.)

  17. Congratulations to Erin! And to Hank, as well. And if you have to knit another shawl…well, this one is totally your colour.

  18. It’s absolutely gorgeous, Steph. And way to go on thinking this all through with the schedule and such. I’d say your foresight & planning for the opportunity to do a 2nd one is just as precious a gift as your beautiful handiwork.

    Best wishes to the bride and groom!

  19. Holy crap! Congratulations, Erin! And high five to Hank and all the rest of you! That’s wonderful news!

    And very good of you to leave that leeway for the shawl. I hope she decides “yes” to the shawl, but you’re right– whether or not it’s perfect for her for the wedding, it’s absolutely perfect in all other ways.

  20. I know that picot bind off was a bugger, but I die a little when I look at it. SO beautiful. Even more special that it is for your sister.

  21. Every happiness to your sister and her sweetie.

    The shawl is beyond wonderful. If she doesn’t like it, you have my permission to adopt me. However, I’m not willing to get married to get it. If that is part of the bargain, do save it for another special occasion.

  22. This must be the wedding shawl. I knit one for my cousin, at the request of my mother (who the gift was from), using mocha colored silk to match her dress accents and clear square glass beads. She loved it! I hope your sister loves it in the sunlight, and make sure to take pictures and look at those, too, and not just holding it up and trusting eyeballs.

  23. Steph, if she loves the pattern, and the yarn, just not the natural color…why not dye the finished shawl? Of course, that would create more contrast.

    I over dyed a finished pure silk lace shawl, complete with glass beads, several years ago and it turned out wonderfully.

    • “Sexy” is a yarn of natural bison plied with lovely dyed soft green silk. Over dying is going to compromise that mixture (and I love natural animal colored yarns). If you have to knit another could you tell me the brand of popcorn Presbytera eats, as I would like to pick up some stock in the company as you do a marathon frantic knit in 4 weeks.

  24. It’s lovely and I see the whole situation as a win-win for you! If she likes it, you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. If she decides against it, you get to keep the shawl, and that certainly can’t be considered a loss!

  25. “Dear Sis – Gee whiz. The shawl has a barely-visible-to-a microscope-repair and it came out waaaay long ( but fitting me perfectly). I’m pretty sure you can get something you like on-line or at the mall.” ( har-dee ha ha. That’s the sort of sister I’d be if I had that shawl in my hands.)

  26. Can I just say how much I’ve enjoyed your last two posts. I’m a very baby knitter and wouldn’t even begin to think of attempting this pattern but I’m also such a perfectionist about everything that it’s so nice to see someone who is really quite accomplished have something less than perfect happen and make the best of it. And even though, I know I’d never see the mistake if I weren’t the one who knitted it, it still kills me so it’s good for me to see that it happens to the best of us.

  27. Hmmmmm… let me guess….. Erin doesn’t wear Blundstones does she. 🙂 The shawl is gorgeous! The repair isn’t evident at all. I love the colour! I hope Erin does too.

  28. Great repair job, and without using super glue! Assuming this may become an heirloom that isn’t worn or blocked often, I think the repair should hold.

    Congratulations to Erin. Now that she has the “something new”, when can you tell us what the “something old, something borrowed, and something blue” are? (Hope Hank is in the wedding party — he would make a tux so totally ROCK!)

  29. Stunning. And I would divorce my husband, find a new man and get married all over again just so I could wear it. Keep me in mind for this one if she wants a different color…

  30. Harlot,

    It is a very beautiful piece of work.

    I hope your sister likes it (though I will respect her cal). I think the fact that it has your lovely ‘fix’ would make it perfect for her wedding and marriage. Marriage is not about perfection; rather, it is about making careful and thoughtful compromises and ‘fixes’ to make the final beauty. Bet you didn’t realize you were knitting a metaphor….

  31. Yes, it’s perfect, Steph. And I totally get your zen attitude about this. Knitting for a beloved is the best knitting of all so if you need to make another? A blessing! xoxo

  32. You are just about the awesomest sister a person could have. Well done on the shawl, the repair, and the calm, non-controlling approach. Not sure I could manage all of those at once.

  33. Just want to go on record saying that the shawl is incredibly beautiful, that you’re a great sister, that the repair is invisible, and you’re a fantastic human being.

    That is all.

  34. It’s perfect! And the fact that you had time to make something THAT huge with time to spare for ANOTHER is just amazing. Hope she decides to go with it!

  35. Erin has Hank, a restaurant, and she is getting married!!! W O W! Congratulations to the whole family.

    What will be, will be.

    Many a bride gets put in a difficult position, happy you are giving her some leeway.

  36. I have quietly read of your progress on this shawl and waited with in anticipation of it’s final unveiling. What a beautiful, beautiful thing to do for your sister – the shawl is stunningly gorgeous and each stitch knit with love.

    If we wanted perfection we would all buy the machine made mediocrity that is churned out in seconds. This is so very special and I am overjoyed you chose my pattern as a basis for such a truly special gift.

    I hope your sister loves the shawl when she sees it in daylight, that you have a wonderful time at the wedding and that Erin and Hank have a long and blissfully happy marriage.

  37. Absolitely beautiful. Laura Nelkin’s beaded shawl Clarus too me 3 or 4 months, I can’t believe you could finish another project in just 5 weeks.

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  39. The shawl is beautiful. I’m certain your sister is moved by your generosity to knit it and you exceptionial sang froi to be willing to knit another if it really isn’t the colour she imagines with her gown. You are truly magnificent in your magnanimity.

  40. Wow, Stephanie, your blog is getting to be quite an adventure read — monumental bike treks and now, knitting drama at fever pitch — my stomach did a flip flop with the unveiling of the shawl (that incredible shawl with its own secret). Keep it coming, I am on tenterhooks!! 🙂

  41. Your sister is a very very lucky woman. To know that you stand ready to do it all over again is a testimony to the love you two have for each other. Here’s hoping it works out the way it should!

  42. I’m in the “dye camp”— if it’s all perfect except for the color, is is it possible to dye the shawl to get the color she wants?

    It would be soooo much easier than knitting another! Just sayin’….

  43. What I love about this shawl, and what makes it perfect to me, is that it is not only hand-knitted out of a fiber that’s delicate and rare and special (I adore Bison), but it has a story, a story that involves a lot of us. Everyone who read your blog entries about the designing process, which started so long ago, and everyone who read about the repair understands about your dedication to this exquisite masterpiece of a shawl. It has a story, a good one. And it continues to have a story! I’m looking forward to hearing the outcome.

    Congratulations to Erin.

  44. Ahhhhh! The lace, the beads, the picot edge! It is perfect. It is lovely. It is elegant. It is lovely for whoever wears this lace shawl. Beautiful work as always.

  45. It is gorgeous. I have yarn and beads to make my daughter a wedding shawl. It is amazing color changing cotton that goes from white to a light champagne and the beads are champagne. The wedding is a long ways away and dress not selected even… and I just can’t knit it without my daughter OK’ing it.. She is very finicky.. So I told her I had this in the “to do” bucket and that when the time came she could decide whether she wanted it or not and help with the pattern… A knitter friend’s daughter rejected anything hand knit and broke her mother’s heart… so I am not putting myself in that position…

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  47. Steph, if your mum and Erin decide (the most beautiful shawl in the world) doesn’t work for the wedding, would you consider auctioning it off? You could put a silent reserve on it to make sure you got your money back for the materials, and then see how much money you could raise. I would be very ready to bid!

  48. So gorgeous!! And the repair is beautifully invisible, too. But help me here…. Why does one need a 9 foot shawl… if it isn’t a wrap around shroud? And this isn’t meant to be a drag along the ground like a “train” kind of 9 feet, is it? She’s a lucky sister.

  49. This shawl is knock-down dropdead gorgeous! So glad you fixed it. Looks perfect to me. And I hope she decides it is perfect for her wedding. Although it does sound as though you wouldn’t exactly “mind” doing another! I really want to try some of the yarn.

  50. Ah, the frustrations of making something for a dear family member! I just quit making things for my daughter because we were never on the same wave length, and of course she didn’t mind telling me what she didn’t care for. And if I make something for anyone else, I make sure they approve the yarn or fabric first, because I KNOW I see those things differently as a knitter or seamstress than they do. So, you fell in love with Sexy beige bison yarn that flowed through your finger like “buttah” (to quote Mike Myers)? But didn’t a few alarms go off, like, how many brides accessorize their white dresses with beige or tan? If you’ve got the fortitude to do it, make it over in pre – approved white, treasure the one you have, and it will all be a great story for the ages, maybe when a niece wears one or the other down the aisle a bit down the road. In any event, I can’t wait to learn what your mother said and how it all worked out. Been there.

    • Matching the white of the bride’s dress in the bison yarn seems unlikely. Whites are hella hard to match even in synthetics, and I would think that lightening the natural color of the bison or the silk would weaken already-vulnerable fibers anyway.
      Fingers crossed that Erin is delighted with this beautiful gift!

  51. My favorite line: “I’ve given her 48 hours to consult with my mother (who always knows what’s perfect)….”

    I’m sure your Mum will give an unbiased assessment….unless she may like to wear that shawl herself!

  52. “my mother (who always knows what’s perfect)”

    Hmm; refer to, where you were wearing an “outfit” that I thought was stylish, but you were certain your mum wouldn’t approve of it. You have more sense of style than you give yourself credit for; for example, pairing the gorgeous, but unfortunately-lost, Birch scarf in Jelly ( with your orange coat.

    BTW, there have been several spammers in the comments the past few weeks, ever since I noticed that the “drag X to the circle” means of posting comments to your blog disappeared. What happened with that?

  53. If she picks a new color, at least you have your shawl to wear to the wedding completed! I agree that it’s absolutely beautiful. (sjn821 on Rav)

  54. I was just thinking about what it would be like to have a sister who is not only a Knitter, not only a Great Knitter, not only a Famous Knitter, but probably, literally, The Most Famous Living Knitter! Luckily that sister is also wise and understanding!

  55. This one made me cry. And, gave me hope 🙂 I am making a stole for my baby daughter’s wedding. I’ve started over 4 times. Struggled with yarn mix, beads, no-beads, mixed beads, and color. I now think it’s perfect. But, in the end as you say, maybe only perfect for me 🙂 I am ready for the outcome.

  56. I’ve been rereading “At Knit’s End” the last couple of days. It has cheered me up enormously and made me think about how long I have been reading your books and blog. Long enough to feel that I need to say “thank you” again!

  57. Dear Ms. Pearl-McPhee;
    Someone has to mention the elephant in the room to you so that you can rethink the dynamic you’ve set in place. As exquisite as this work of art appears, as generous and loving as this gesture is, your sister most definitely will feel obligated. She loves you, I suspect, and now your wonderful surprise has forced her to choose between having the wedding that she wanted, just the way she wanted it, or not hurting your feelings. (The words “wedding” and “surprise” don’t often go well together.) I wish you all the best of results, and the happiest of days. Your work is truly beautiful.

  58. You are an amazing sister, she is very lucky to have both you and your patience. Your work is gorgeous! I have to agree with you that the color is perfect.

  59. I am also working on a knit shawl for a wedding, but I was much too nervous to even start without complete approval. The bride chose patterns with me, went yarn shopping with me, and has seen the first 2 feet of unblocked wrap and loves it.

    You are a brave, brave woman.

  60. standing by with more rain? That’s absolutely nuts (in a good way)…all that work and then “Honey, if this doesn’t work for you, I’ll make another one on the double in a different colorway.” Is there anything you can’t do. I know you can knit while biking…

  61. Speaking as a (mostly former) wedding professional, I’m going to suggest that your sister wants some contrast, and this should be gorgeous. Anything too close to the color of the gown but not *right on* can make the gown look off, or heavens forbid! dingey. A nice contrast is just the thing, as long as she likes the overall color.

    If you end up knitting her another one, you are officially the most amazing person on the planet, as far as knit-wear is concerned. I can’t even imagine. That shawl is seriously stunning, and I hope that a look in daylight and a little consultation with your mum will confirm that it’s exactly the shawl she wanted.

  62. Just a thought–and someone else may have already suggested this earlier–is that it might be perfect for PART of the day, and be changed off with something quite different (maybe fabric instead of knit?) for different parts…I ended up wearing three pairs of shoes during our Day to cover pictures/ceremony, walking on a gravel road between church and reception, and dancing: in my case, all ivory, all functional and comfortable for that part. Maybe this gorgeous shawl could be part of a set??

  63. STUNNING! This is unbelievable to a beginner like me, I can’t imagine how much work went into this piece. Can’t wait to see more photos of this beautiful work of art.

  64. Eyes filled with tears. I read this after I had read the post that Erin had made the wise choice to wear it on her wedding day, so knew the outcome. Glorious gift, loving sister. Congratulations to you both!

  65. Beautiful! Barely noticeable at all. I rip. I’ve torn out whole sweaters, sometimes 2 and 3 times due to an error that nobody but me would notice. Once I threw away a table cloth because I accidentally snipped it with a pair of scisors. My mother-in-law repaired it, and it really was undetectable. But, I knew it was there, so I tossed it. I’m contemplating ripping out a sweater to just under the bust line because it’s about 11/2 inches longer than I want it (that’s the only place to adjust length due to color changes). I say contemplating because I’m TRYING to improve my OCD ways.

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