Last fall, I found some absolutely lovely yarn from a local dyer. Knitterly Things (Julia) usually dyes self-striping sock yarn, but she also makes semi-solids. And she sometimes has some with sparkle. She had a trunk show at my LYS (local yarn store), and hanging on the rack was a gorgeous non-traditional Christmas colorway. Lo and behold, there was also a tonal with sparkle that matched the red in the striping colorway.
Both skeins of yarn jumped into my basket. I just knew that they had to be used together in something. And I knew it should be a shawl. Striping yarns are not used nearly as often in shawls as in socks, in part because the stripes will change widths as the shawl shaping develops.
With some thought, I realized that one way to mitigate the effect of the shaping on the stripes was to use the striping yarn for only half of the row. I also knew that I wanted something that wouldnt require knitters to be constantly referencing charts or written stitch patterns. It had to be easy to work and keep track of while in a social setting, but not just mindless miles of plain stockinette or garter stitch.
Originally, my plan was to make the pattern available for Local Yarn Store Day, which is sponsored by TNNA (The National Needlearts Association). LYS Day encourages fibercrafters to frequent local independent businesses instead of national chains, online-only retailers and big box stores. My pattern, while written originally for Knitterly Things yarn, will work with so many of the hand-dyed yarns that are a staple of the LYS. I would encourage knitters to shop their LYS, find something they loved, and make something beautiful from it.
I swatched. I drafted instructions. I computed yarn use for two sizes. Because while I love a huge shawl, not everyone wants something that will envelop them completely. I worked up references for stitch counts to appeal to the obsessive counters out there. I found someone to test knit/verify the pattern. I finished my prototype and started one of the other size. Everything was going swimmingly.
And then everything was locked down.
One by one, states started signing Shelter in Place orders, closing non-essential businesses. Yarncrafting events of all kinds were cancelled, from social events at individual stores, to regional fiber festivals, to weekend conventions. Dyers who had exhibit space booked and merchandise dyed and ready to display (and more importantly, sell) suddenly had no place to vend their wares. LYS Day 2020 was rescheduled from April to September.
My shawl is still a celebration of the artists and businesspeople who are the lifeblood of the yarn world: independent dyers and LYS owners. Things are hard for them right now. Many have implemented online sales, some for the first time. They are finding creative ways to get yarn into the hands of knitters, crocheters and weavers. If your LYS has done that, or if you are lucky enough that they still have doors open to customers as usual, I strongly encourage you to buy yarn that speaks to you and says it wants to be this shawl. Otherwise, shop your yarn stash – I know you have one. But then when things return to normal, replace those skeins by buying from your LYS.
I’ll link to a few dyers who make lovely things that I know work in this pattern. All three of them were scheduled to exhibit at events that were cancelled, so they have yarn available and ready to ship.
Pattern: Point Me To An LYS, available on Ravelry
Knitterly Things, large sample used Vesper striping sock yarn in Holiday Magic and Glitterful sock yarn in Holly Berry Red
Leading Men Fiber Arts, small sample used Show Stopper in Gothic Queen and Longstocking
BlackCat Fibers, large sample (still on needles) using Nomad Sock in To Venus and Back, Russet, Night Swimming and Toxic