The Story of the Fairytale Princess Shawl

This is a story of success. It's a story of frustration and near-failure, of improvisation, and of conquering the odds. It is also a cautionary tale of why you never commit to knitting something to wear anywhere, to anything, until after it is already finished.

You all know my boyfriend Chris. He's made an appearance in this blog on several occasions, usually as the cause of some misguided hatred for gloves. Well, this weekend his friend Matt got married to a lovely girl named Justine. Matt and Chris were roommates when Chris and I started dating in college. Not long after Chris and I started dating, Matt had an encounter with Justine and they became the obnoxiously cute couple of the apartment. So when Chris told me that Matt and Justine were getting married and that he was in the wedding, I knew I needed to find something new and different to wear (mostly because I've never had a real date to a wedding before. Though going with my mom and trying not to make jokes about flowers or color schemes is always fun -- not that we've mocked any flowers or colors in any of the many weddings we have attended together. Those have all been quite beautiful and all tears have been of joy, not laughter or suffocation).

Fast-forward to summer. I'm in Pittsburgh, trying hard to be grateful for the experience I'm gaining and the potential benefits for my character, blah blah blah. My mom sends me a package, because that's just the kind of nice person that she is. Inside, along with some other very nice gifts, is the latest issue of Vogue Knitting (Early Fall 2010). As I flip through I'm struck, as always, by how odd the pieces are. Then I go back through and fall in love with about 70 percent (as it turns out, though they are not as practical, I seem to actually read and make items from Vogue as opposed to the more wearable Interweave). I blame the late hour, the insane heat, and the need to have something to knit while marathoning Doctor Who for my decision to knit the lace stole (#24) by Erica Schlueter. It's a beautiful piece, don't get me wrong, but it's gigantic and billed as "very easy" (which in Vogue is sometimes questionable, but not in this case).

So I immediately cast it on. Giving only passing thought to the fact that my yarn is verigated rather than the single color in the pattern (which, now that I think about it, is purple, and totally the reason I was drawn to that page). Also, my laceweight yarn (Knit Picks Shimmer Hand Dyed) is not alpaca as the pattern calls. But who cares? I was knitting, and that's all that mattered.

A few weeks later, I was still knitting away. See, this pattern has a 5 row repeat that gets repeated . . . wait for it . . . 100 times. Yeah, you read that right. But I was working away, knitting along, thinking about wearing it as a nice light scarf come fall and still wondering what I was going to wear to the wedding. Only then I made a mistake. I took it to knitting at Knit One one night and when asked about it, said I was making it to wear to a wedding in August. Yes, I know. Big mistake. Suddenly the clock was ticking and I was doomed.

So I knit it. I knit it all the time. And nothing seemed to change. It grew, but it never seemed to have more rows (or at least not enough for the amount of time I spent on it). I knit it all the way home from Pittsburgh to North Carolina, to the point that my hands hurt. I knit it every day I was at home. I knit it at Panther practice. Finally, I knit it on the way to Washington DC a mere five days before the wedding. By the time we got to the hotel I was feeling a little frantic. The next day I determined to finish the repeat I was currently working on and then bind off. So I made it 78 rows, then did one repeat of the edging chart, instead of two.

And then I hit another snag. The bind off calls for another, larger-size needle. Oops! I only had the needles I was making the shawl with, not any extras. So, a few minutes later, scrambling around the hotel room looking for something, anything, to bind off the shawl, I mean I was desperate, I found a mechanical pencil. Yes, I bound off a lace shawl with a large mechanical pencil. It was a little nervwracking because I didn't want to break the yarn.

(Yes, that is Dead Like Me in the background. Thank you Netflix)

But now I'm glad I didn't go past 78 repeats, because when I tried to block the shawl it was almost longer than the bed. And the colors actually look quite nice. They remind me of the scene at the very end of Sleeping Beauty when she and the prince are dancing and she's wearing this gorgeous dress and in the corner, the good fairies keep changing the color from blue to pink and back again.

(photo courtesy of the best man's wife, the ever lovely Sophia)

I wore it to the wedding yesterday, and I'm quite happy with the look. My dress was free, the shoes were old, and the hat, which everyone seemed to love, was on sale at Belk and the perfect shade of blue. It was a lovely wedding and I had a great time with Chris' friends. The guys didn't trip, faint, or yawn, and did us proud by looking great in their tuxes while the happy couple was radiant at center stage.

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