Opus 2011

Last October I started playing around with layering hues of dye on roving to form interesting gradients. One of the first colorways to come about from this experimentation was a gradient spanning a deep bluish plum (Damson) through raspberry and copper all the way to gold. The rich colors seemed to call for silk so I dyed it on 80% merino/20% silk.  This would become the standard fiber for most of the layered gradients.  It was autumn and the colors of this gradient reflected all the richness of this time of year without being too staid and traditional. I dyed up an even dozen rovings – it seemed like a good round number and even dyelot of items…and then something happened.

I wanted it. Now, I understand how being a dyer works. I dye yarns and fibers and then send them on their way to fiber artists who will create something wonderfully beautiful and unique. A work of art. Something I can’t begin to imagine when I’m dyeing it up since it comes from their imagination, not mine. I’m good with this. In fact, I’m more than good. I adore this arrangement since I often get to see these beautiful works of art, which are pure inspiration for me. I love this part of my job! So, when I have an urge to grab something coming out of the dye studio and hoard it all to myself, I can usually talk myself back from the edge by reminding myself of all these job benefits. Not this time. I wanted this Damson to Gold gradient. Badly. With an urgency that I thought might be life crushing if I didn’t have it. So I kept it. Not just one braid but FOUR. Well, I reasoned with myself, if I was going to fall down I might as well make it a spectacular swan dive.

As soon as the 2010 festival season ended, I started spinning it up. Technically, I didn’t even wait for the end of the festivals since I started spinning it at a trunk show at the Knitters Mercantile in Columbus, Ohio. I was a spinner possessed. I spun through one gradient braid on Saturday and a second one the next day. I couldn’t stop. There was something hypnotizing about the gradual changing of colors loading onto the bobbin. I plied these first two plies together and ended up with an 8 ounce skein of 1075 yards of a heavy laceweight/light fingering weight yarn. I blocked the skein and set it on a shelf in the dye studio where I could look at it while dyeing and waited for it to tell me what it wanted to become.  Meanwhile I spun and plied the third and fourth braids of fiber.  A total of 2225 yards.

It really seemed to call out for a circular shawl.  We had just purchased an antique circular quartersawn oak table for the brick and mortar store I was hoping to open.  I could envision  a circular shawl draped over this table in the store as a model.  But which pattern?  There are several beautiful designs available for circular shawls but the one I fell in love with was Susan Pandorf’s Evenstar pattern .  I started knitting mid-November and worked on it exclusively for the next four and a half months.  The pattern is beautifully written with large charts and line by line directions so the knitter can chose whichever they are most comfortable using.  The stitch pattern changes several times throughout the shawl and are timed so that everytime I started to get bored, the stitches would change and suddenly I was working on a whole new project.  It was the longest I’ve ever worked on a single project – a long term relationship as it were.

All good things must come to an end, as they say.  A couple of weeks ago, two days before our first festival, the Greencastle Fiber Event, I cast off the last stitch and blocked the shawl.

Now don’t get me wrong – I am infatuated with the shawl.  But I’m also a little blue.  Down in the dumps.  Melancholic.  My long term relationship is over and there is simply nothing to be done.  Nothing except…cast on a cute little Baby Surprise Jacket in that fingering weight single ply I spun up a month ago.  A short sweet project.  Sort of a brief summer romance to recover and get back into the swing of things – a project on the rebound as it were.  I feel better already!

8 Responses to “Opus 2011”

  1. Junipero says:

    That is GORGEOUS! I love both the pattern and the color shift. It will look amazing on your table… if it were me I might even pull it off occasionally, give it a shake, and toss it over my shoulders.

  2. This is so gloriously beautiful. Wow! I love it!

  3. knitreadspin says:

    This is amazing! I love the color shift in the yarn you spun.

    I am curious to know if you used the second skein when knitting this.

  4. Laura says:

    Is beautiful! Did you use both skeins?

  5. Kimber says:

    I used nearly both skeins (maybe 100 yards left in each). I wasn’t clear in the post but I started at the gold end and alternated rounds with each skein, working outwards.

  6. PattyW says:

    WOW! That is stunning! I know how you feel when a project is done…I get anxious when coming to the end of some of mine. The process is so fun, the end project is just a bonus!

  7. Mel says:

    WOW! I think I remember seeing this around Thanksgiving when we were over. It is spectacular and I am jealous! I wish I could do all that you do with yarn, etc. Can I get private knitting lessons? Really, I mean that.

  8. Shan says:

    Saw this last weekend at Sheep and Wool MD- It is spectacular!