This again is more of a recipe then a detailed pattern. This recipe has a bit of a story behind it too. I hope by sharing this it will inspire others who have people in their lives that they want to bring comfort to. Nothing is more comforting than something that is handmade. Here is our story at the end you’ll find the pattern recipe.
A little over a year ago I read a post on a good blog buddies Cathy’s blog. She was having some medical problems, and had a long road ahead of her. She had organized a project the year before for a friend of hers, Jenn who had lost her family in a car accident. I thought that someone as wonderful and caring, who gives so much of herself to others deserves a hand-knit hug, I felt that I could help where I was needed. The first week after reading that post I had so many idea’s floating around in my head, I wanted to do something different. Mostly because crochet isn’t something I’m good at, and I was *really* burnt out on squares at that point. I thought about knitting her a shawl by myself. But I kicked that idea out. Why? Even thought it would be meaningful and bring hope to her it wouldn’t be as special as one that was made by many hands. I had the idea of contacting all the people who made the squares for Jenn’s blanket and asking them what they thought about a traveling shawl for Cathy.
The response from them was overwhelming, 22 people said they where in . I didn’t expect so many people to say, ok count me in. At that point I came up with” The Big Idea” I remembered the yarn aboard swap. We used that idea, but changing it. I told everyone I would start knitting the shawl, then send it on to the next person who would knit a bit on the shawl using blue merino wool of their choosing. Then that person would send it on to the next person on the list. And so on. The number of rows each knitter would knit would depend on how many of us sign up. Browsing through Ravelery I found this shawl. I loved the idea of writing on strips of ribbon, which we would all attach to our finished part of the shawl, helping identify who knit which portion. Then I came up with the idea, based on a guage swatch which lied like a dirty dog (ok maybe it was user error, I think I measured it wrong :p) , to use the knitpicks option’s US 8 (5mm) on a 60″ cord and cast on 165 sts and each of us would knit 12 rows each before mailing it to the next person. After I started the cast on, it didn’t look like enough so I increased it (a lot) to 220 sts. After I finished my first portion I packed up a little kit of ribbons, the knitpicks needles (when the shawl traveled the caps where on the cables), and the special pen and mailed it off to its first stop in Canada. While I was waiting in line I had a brilliant (ha) idea to cast on the other half of the shawl and to mail it to the US knitters so it wouldn’t’ take so long to get this finished. I would just graft the stitches together, it would be all easy peasy. So I ordered more needles from knitpicks and cast on for the other half.
yarn: approx. 22 different kinds of wool. Soft wool is the best.
needles: Using appropriate needles to get gauge. We used US 8 (5mm) knit picks options with the longest cable available 60″. When the shawl was in transit the needles where removed and placed in the pouch and the cable caps where put on the cable. So no stitches would slide off.
gauge: 3sts/8rows = 1″ note about gauge- its not entirely important here. Some people will knit tighter and some looser. Since each knitter will be knitting a small amount of rows its not that big of a deal. However if the knitter knows that they usually have to go down or up needle sizes they should here.
notions: I put a small pouch in each of the two packages that had the two halves of the shawl/blanket. The pouch held 12″ pieces of satin ribbon we used to write our messages on. Before I put the ribbon pieces in the pouch I treated the ends with fray-stop to prevent them from fraying. A waterproof/fade proof archival quality pen (We used zig millennium .005 found in the scrapbooking section of Jo-Ann’s.), the key for the cable, and the needle tips.
Cast on 220 stitches, I used stitch markers every 20 stitches to make sure I had the right count. Knit 16 rows in straight stitch. (Garter) You’ll have 8 ridges. Write message on ribbon and mail onto the next person.
-notes and tips: If you have less people knitting you could add more rows. With our gauge 16 rows = 2″ Since we had so many people knitting and we all know how the mail can be slow at times, I had the brilliant idea of casting on the other half of the shawl/blanket. To speed the process up, and it started going to the people on the East coast. Since the 1st half was going from the East to the West of Canada. When the 1st half was done it went to the people on the West coast of the US. I was thinking the less miles the packages had to cover the faster it would be. After both halves where done I grafted the two together. Which was surprisingly easy once I got the hang of grafting in garter.
-tips on communication: We set up a yahoo group for easy communicating with each other. And it helped keep the project “alive”. When someone got their turn they would post that it had arrived and post again when they where done and it had mailed, each of us posted pictures of our portions too. As the moderator I would email the next person on the list and ask them to respond to me with in a week to make sure they where still in. If during the time period someone was unable to keep the commitment it was ok. Life changes, which is ok and I would rather not have a stressful project. If I didn’t hear back from someone (only happened once) in the time period it moved on to the next person. I also tried to work things around people vacations. I think this helped us stay committed too. If people want to include little gifts, have them mail it to the person mailing the final package. This will keep the main packages lighter and should something happen and the package lost the gifts aren’t lost too.
If anyone has any questions on this recipe or needs more details please feel free to drop me a line, mistress_stash_enhancer(at)yahoo(dot)com (remember to replace the obvious and remove the parentheses)
PS, I couldn’t have done this with out the help of my fellow comfort knitters, with out you ladies this project wouldn’t be the sucess that it was. I’m so lucky to know so many wonderful, talented people who are so giving of there time and their talent. Thanks again my mom Jane from MA, Leslee from Ottowa, Cindy from Ontario, Dorthy from Ontario, Michelle and Lois from British Columbia. Kimberly’s from Germany. Karen G. in CT, Kelly from CT, Kimberly from RI, Cheryl from MA, Karen F. from MA, Karen V from MA. (it really amused me that there where so many Karen’s,!) Julie from MA, Bethe from MA, Lynne from NY, Amy from IL, Cindy H. from MO , Christine from AZ, Carrie from AZ, June from AZ, Janine’s from UK on the island Guernsey. and Kristianne in CA.
PPS, a PDF file of this recipe is now available, click here to start automatically start downloading the file.
You are an amazing woman Amanda and you all have truly touched my heart and given me more comfort than you could possibly imagine. (A Yahoo Group, what a great idea! – it seems you thought of absolutely everything!) Thank you from the bottom of my heart!