Christmas Gifting

Last year my MIL had asked me for a shawl. It’s a shawl I had seen around the internet and I was totally up for the challenge. I bought the pattern and the yarn, then scared the pants off myself by discovering I had a new short-row technique to learn. Well, that project went in The Jar, where it shall remain until the end of time. I kid. It’ll be there probably until summer when I have less going on. Anyhow, in order to rally for the project, I proceeded to make a bunch of Confidence Builders in the form of several hats and one Everest-type fair isle sweater coat. I’m glad to say that those projects gave me the confidence I needed to decide I hated the color combination I had chosen for the shawl and continue my search for the perfect yarn pairing! Yes, I chickened out. But, I really was uncomfortable with my yarn pairing. I have since done much better and I feel more confident about my new choices. However, I had it in my head that I was ABSOLUTELY going to make a make-up project for her to have by Christmas. And I actually managed to pull off that scam.

Last summer (nothing ever started this year, nothing) I had started working on a turtleneck shoulder cape for myself from the Fez collection by Debbie Bliss using Cascade Eco Duo. While a gorgeous yarn, and absolutely scrumptious, it was no good for this project–there was too much going on, nothing could be seen. My small work was frogged and set aside. I surveyed the other yarns in my stash that would fit the criteria and came up with something that worked beautifully!! Just, not for me. The perfect yarn was an Aran weight wool by Cascade called Greenland, and I had only enough to make the small. Me, and my nearly 6′ frame mentally kicked dirt and moved on to another project. Fast-forward to this Thanksgiving when Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life came out as did a few KALs. I joined two, started, one and finished none. I’m shameless, I know. Well, the one I started involved Aran yarn, which became my opportunity to finally put that Cascade Greenland to good use. At least, that was my intention. As it turns out, I hated the look of the yarns I had paired and scrapped the whole thing. I have yet to come up with more suitable yarn. The Greenland, however, was put to great use.

After failing to successfully start a Gilmore Girls-inspired KAL, I decided to still use the yarn. And I decided to use it for someone else. I was going to make the Shoulder Cape by Debbie Bliss from the Fez book in the size small using the Cascade Greenland in Ruby for my MIL! I was very excited. While I wasn’t going to be able to keep the creation for myself, I was genuinely giddy to be able to still make it and gift it. It took about three weeks to make, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The body was made sideways, like a scarf, then turned to add the collar, and sewn up the side once all that’s done. The body has two sets of braided cables, the lower one thicker than the upper one, flanked by strips of smaller twisted cables alternating with small garter stitch panels. There is a slight curve to the piece which helps it wrap around the shoulders comfortably. This is achieved through the miracle of short rows. Yes, short rows, however, these are really easy short rows. They occur two rows before the cable crossings, and right at the end of the garter stitch panel so any kind of gap wouldn’t be noticeable. I say this because on a stockinette short row, designers typically have a wrap & turn to hide any potential gaps. Garter is very forgiving, therefore doesn’t require as much cover-up. All I had to do was stop where I was instructed and go back the other way. Easy.

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I got it finished in time to take a family jaunt to the Magic Kingdom. We all had a very lovely time, but I still had to wash and block my creation! When we got back, that’s the first thing I did. It took a few days to dry since we had experienced a sudden cold spell and there’s not really any kind of warm spot in my house suitable enough to inconveniently set up my drying rack. Plus, it’s Aran yarn knit on 5mm needles; it’s a bit thick, it’s gonna take time. By day two, I was sweating a little and MacGyvered the shoulder cape under the bathroom heat lamp. I was running out of time and this baby needed to get in the mail by Wednesday to get there by Saturday. I made it! Actually, I was quoted Tuesday as the delivery date. I loudly said, “NEAT,” and let it be in the hands of the United States Postal Service. It totally got there by Saturday, though I’m not exactly sure when, so that surly postal lady can go take a hike!

Christmas Eve, I got a pic from my Sister-in-law of Mom wearing the Ruby shoulder cape.

 

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Photo provided by my SIL

 

She loved it and even posed for pictures in it for the rest of the day. I think my work here is done.

The only bummer is that I had one skein from another dye lot that looked just a tiny bit darker than the rest of the skeins. Luckily, it’s along the seam so it was easily concealed. Then I have just a tiny bit of it added at the edge of the collar, but it looks more artistic than a fluke. I thank the Stars and the Universe for looking out for me on this one because I surely didn’t notice any color differences until I went to sew it up and noticed that one side was more red than the other. Getting that odd color placed at the sewn edge, then again at the collar edge was completely by accident (or by divine design, however you’d like to see it) and I appreciate the assist. But here’s the kicker: I literally had one foot left of the yarn when all was knit and snipped. Everything worked out perfectly, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

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