Saturday, December 29, 2018

It's a Wrap - My Texture Time Shawl

It's been some time since I've felt like visiting this space.  Over the past six months I lost my father to Lou Gehrig's disease and my dear mother is currently in skilled nursing with a fractured pelvis.To be honest I debated abandoning my blog during this period as it seemed so trivial in comparison to what my family was going through. But I realized going through this sad process how important memories and pictures are as you get older.  I think one day I'll look back at my blog and the pictures and stories will make me smile as I remember all the things that I've made during my life.  And hopefully my knitting tips and recipes will have made other people's lives a little more enjoyable along the way too.

I have been busy knitting away this entire time and have finished many beautiful pieces that may never get their moment to shine.  But I wanted to return with a truly special piece of knitting and so I chose my Texture Time shawl which is Stephen West's 2018 mystery knit along (MKAL).  This piece is a knock out and attention grabber, especially when you turn around and people see it from the sides and back.

I loved knitting this project.  Like all Stephen West's designs it is well written and full of creativity.  Some might even say it's flamboyant.  And I say why not go for it.  That is why we knit after all, isn't it?  We want something that is uniquely ours and expresses our creativity.  Otherwise it would be cheaper and easier to simply buy something that is mass produced.  Speaking of which I should point out that I did make a few modifications to this design (detailed below). Whether it is color, fit, or a design element almost every knitting pattern can be improved with simple modifications and you are missing a wonderful part of the knitting experience if you fail to do so.  Before you begin any project and as you progress on a project you should always be asking yourself if there isn't a better option for the color, fit, or design that would better suit you and your tastes.  Admittedly it's harder to do this as a new knitter but with time and experience that thought process should be part of how you think about every project that you knit.

As for the actual knitting of this design I think the one major challenge is the back panel which is "syncopated" brioche.  If you are new to brioche knitting this, in my opinion, is not the starter project for you.  But if you are game or simply need a refresher course on brioche I highly recommend Craftsy's online brioche class to get you started.  If you do knit this shawl I guarantee that you'll have a one of a kind piece of knitted art.

Particulars:  Texture Time MKAL (2018); designed by Stephen West; US 5 needles; Spun Right Round (classic sock and mohair (held double)).  My only modifications were (a) I did not follow his suggested order of colors for the back center panel (i.e. light to dark) and instead I went in the order of colors that created contrast best (b) I substituted and/or added a bright acid green yarn (from stash) for the wavy contrast portion to help make that design element really pop (c) I added a single strand of mohair to the sides on pattern rows to create a striping effect (d) I substituted my main color for the tips rather than using the green contrasting color as suggested; and (e) I did not knit the tips as long as suggested as I felt that adding too much length to the sides would overwhelm the shawl.  I am very happy with my final shawl and can't wait for next year's MKAL adventure!  Previous MKALs by Stephen West that I've participated in include The Doodler shawl and Marled Magic Shanklet (post also includes my Striped Esjan shawl which is Stephen West design, but not a MKAL project).  If you are looking for a basic brioche project I recommend the Parlour Shawl, which was my first brioche project.

In Loving  Memory of my father, Vernon Bugh, Jr. ~

As I mentioned above my father recently passed away.  I don't want to dwell on the sadness of the disease that took him from us.  Instead I want to remember all the happy times we had as a family.   I specially love this picture of him that I took a few years back because he particularly loved Christmas.  He always went to great lengths to decorate the outside of our house and property with beautiful bold strands of Christmas lights.  It was important to him that he select the perfect Christmas tree for my Mom to decorate inside and he would drill holes in the base and nurture the tree with solutions to keep it fresh through New Years.  He also had fun with the holiday.  He was always the first to suggest it was time for eggnog spiked with whisky or rum.  He collected and set up a whole holiday village display in the living room complete with houses and shops that lit up and cars and carolers strolling the streets.  When I was little he had a neighbor dress up as Santa Claus and come to our house.  Santa gave my sister and me a candy cane and told us to watch for his sleigh leaving from our back window.  I still remember wearing my pajamas and bright blue fuzzy slippers standing in the living room watching for his sleigh out the back window and being puzzled how I could have missed it.  And every Christmas morning he captured all the chaos and fun of opening presents using an old fashion movie camera.  He was sentimental that way.  I hope to come across these old films when my sister and I go through the house.  I won't be able to watch them right away but hope that someday I can watch them and smile.

After my dad passed many of our neighbors wrote or told me what a wonderful neighbor he was and how much they will miss him and miss seeing his house beautifully lit for the holidays.  It was a hard Christmas this year as it was my first year without him.  And Christmases and my life won't ever be the same.  But I do have all my memories of him and I know that we will be together again in heaven as he is now with his mother, brother Cecil and sister Shirley and all his dearly loved friends and family that departed before him. 

My dad lived a remarkable life and only snippets have been included on the blog.  But there are a few posts that talk about my Dad include a post that shares his fabulous BBQ chicken rub recipe; his favorite Christmas cookie recipe; (which also includes a bit of his life history including his award of the Bronze Star for bravery in combat); his stint as a lumberjack; and his firm belief in the health benefits of drinking a daily glass of orange juice!  He also made a few cameo appearances on the blog helping me showcase some of my knits along the way, proving he was a good sport to the end.

Vernon Bugh, Jr.  ~ May 22, 1929 - November 30, 2018 ~

Until next time be well, love well and I hope that 2019 will be a happy and healthy year for all.