Mom's Shawl (I'm a slow knitter but a fast reader)

Those of you who have been around for awhile may remember that my mom and I started a knitting project together when our family lived with my parents last summer.

I teased my mom at the time that it would take a couple years for us to finish this project. 

She proved me wrong. Turns out, it will take me a couple years to finish this shawl. And not because the pattern the tricky but because I'm a herky-jerky style knitter.

I knit for a season and then I'll make a big mistake (I make little ones all the time). I get discouraged and leave the needles for awhile. Eventually I am inspired to start again but before I do I must fix my previous mistake. By the time I've fixed the mistake and gained some momentum life is in a different season and the knitting is put aside till the whole cycle starts again.

I should add I can't knit in the car - makes me sick. Nor can I knit (and follow a pattern) while doing pretty much anything else. So much for multi-tasking and knitting. If I want to knit and multi-task I work on dishcloths using a simple pattern I found online (link no longer available). 

My shawl is going at a snail's pace. I have made peace with this. I don't have to do everything, and do it all well. Turns out you can buy nice handknits at our thrift shop and that's good enough for me right now.

But you wouldn't be able to find a shawl like this at the thrift store. My mom's shawl is a work of art. And the color? Don't you just love it?!

The pattern itself is fairly simple. Really. In spite of the mistakes I keep making, the instructions are simple to follow. Pick a nice yarn, spend a few months knitting (or in my case, a few years) and you've created a work of art to wrap yourself in. 

Speaking of knitting I recently read The Friday Night Knitting Club. I loved it.

I read it in a couple days over the Christmas holidays. My friend Emily who came with her family for a ski vacation brought a bag of paperback books for me. I'm in fiction heaven right now. Currently reading Cutting for Stone, which I'm also loving. Thanks Emily!

Are you a knitter, a reader, or both? (And please don't tell me you can both at the same time.)
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  • Lety

    Lety on Jan. 6, 2013, 11:06 p.m.

    You know Renee, one day we will have all the time to just sit and knit for hours. But right now we have other things to do. I myself have a couple of projects half way finished! How I would love to have the time to knit that beautiful shawl your Mom is wearing!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 6, 2013, 11:26 p.m.

      You know Lety, I'm not sure I'll ever be one to sit around and knit for long stretches of time. I think I'm too fidgety for that. The only thing I seem to be able to do for long stretches of time, without feeling the itch to get up and do something else, is reading. 


  • Tonya

    Tonya on Jan. 6, 2013, 11:51 p.m.

    Hi Renee, You mom's shawl is beautiful! Now, it is possible to knit and read at the same time:) Also do squats while knitting:) That helps me because I am super fidgety too. Warmly, Tonya


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 7, 2013, 12:35 a.m.

      Not squats and knitting - oh you are a knitting multitasking guru! Can you do yoga and knit at the same time also? (smile)


  • Amanda

    Amanda on Jan. 7, 2013, 12:09 a.m.

    Your mom is strikingly beautiful (and you look like her, as I'm sure you can see...) and so is her shawl.

    I'm a seasonal knitter and there are years when I'm prolific and others that I'm not. This is a medium-good knitting year. But it still has to be small projects that I don't have to think much about, or count, with the kids distracting me a lot. That's ok...there will be other times with no distractions to knit complicated things.

    Is your in-process shawl in the same colorway?


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 7, 2013, 12:33 a.m.

      I don't know the exact definition of colorway but I'm guessing it has something to do with the same color scheme? No. I choose a different yarn for my shawl. It's this one:


  • Jennifer

    Jennifer on Jan. 7, 2013, 12:58 a.m.

    You knit like I crochet (unless it is hats)! I decided to make my husband a blanket that "crochets up really fast" according to the women on-line making it in a week or two. FIVE YEARS LATER, just this past summer, he got his blanket. I would get a lot done, mess up, get frustrated with it, put it away for 6 months or a year, finally feel like dealing with my mistakes, get a lot more done, mess up somewhere else, etc... Thankfully he loves it and now that it isn't summer he can actually use it :) Persistence is worth it, right?


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 7, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

      Five years later... that makes me laugh. Glad to know I'm not the only "challenged" yarn worker out there. 


  • Penny

    Penny on Jan. 7, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

    That is the most beautiful garment I have ever seen. It's the kind of shawl a butterfly would knit if it needed to dress up! Stunning. Yours will be too. Someday :)


  • Sarah M

    Sarah M on Jan. 7, 2013, 1:21 a.m.

    I am a big reader, and a big knitter (and a big sewer), but they all come and go in spurts, usually seasonally. I knit a lot in the winter. It's a quite, steady hobby that actually keeps my hands warm, and I have plenty of time during the dark nights when we're homebound more than the rest of the year. I let up around Spring, when sewing starts (or I should say, when most baby showers are) :) My reading is my favorite and the hobby that has been around the longest, and isn't defined by a season. I generally read a book a week, sometimes more, sometimes less. I'm currently reading Anne Lamott's newest book, "Help. Thanks. Wow." about the 3 types of prayer. It's only a hundred pages so I should finish quickly.

    Next up: In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of An Accidental Academic by Professor X.

    Sarah M


    • Sarah M

      Sarah M on Jan. 7, 2013, 3:25 a.m.

      ah!I forgot to mention how much I love your mom's shawl. Really beautiful melding of colors. I've only made one shawl, for my mom, and that was a huge project! SM


  • Ruth

    Ruth on Jan. 7, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

    That's a great post about your Mom's shawl, I'd only seen a smaller picture of it but these show the beautiful colors and the pattern at the same time - love your Mom's hair longer, looks very soft and feminine...great pictures!!!..your shawl will be lovely too - such nice colors..... knitting is so satisfying and rewarding, sometimes it's good to have a smaller project on the go at the same time as a big one..... so you don't have to wait yrs for the finished product.....keep at it!!! you'll be glad you did~


  • christyb

    christyb on Jan. 7, 2013, 4:15 a.m.

    The shawl is absolutely beautiful! I never would have considered doing colours like that, but it worked gorgeously. I also love the colours of yours (in the comments)!! I'm not sure you want me to actually tell you this, but yes, I can knit a simple pattern and read at the same time. It's actually easier for me than watching a movie, sometimes, because I can miss things in the movie if I look away, but can glance away from reading and look back to where I was. Works best at a table, with the book propped open, and the children otherwise occupied! (oh, and a mug of tea is required.)


  • Catherine Forest

    Catherine Forest on Jan. 7, 2013, 4:44 a.m.

    OMG!! It is sooo gorgeous! I made myself two shawls in the past but never really wore them... but I find them so beautiful (and fun to knit too since I don't need to sew any seams later on!!).


  • Nicki

    Nicki on Jan. 7, 2013, 8:33 a.m.

    I'm both but I would say a better reader! I started a receiving blanket for my second child before he was conceived. I finished it (with a lot of help from my mother) in time for his first birthday!!! Your mum's shawl is wonderful and yes I adore the colours. They look especially pleasing against the monochrome of snow and tree trunks. I've recently taken up knitting again, after a long break, and I am loving it. I still don't know what to do if I make a mistake so I try really hard not to make any. This means no multi tasking knits for me either.


  • Jacinda

    Jacinda on Jan. 7, 2013, 8:33 a.m.

    Beautiful women, the both of you. Me, a compulsive reader and an occassional knitter. I'm with you on the thrift shop finds; they are mostly good enough, sometimes fabulous and always affordable. In NZ, in the land of sheep, wool is hideously expensive. But what I wanted to comment on are your fantastic book links. Thank you, you keep me in good books that I love.


  • San

    San on Jan. 7, 2013, 12:16 p.m.

    Beautiful shawl! I'm a big knitter and reader but not both at the same time!!

    Knitting is my sanity saver and i'd be lost without a project on the go. I've nearly finished the last of the christmas - tide knitting(!) and I already have four projects lined up in time for up and coming birthdays.

    I do think you have the right attitude to your work in progress and as you've shared here many times your creativity is found elsewhere.



  • Karen

    Karen on Jan. 7, 2013, 1:39 p.m.

    Thanks Renee for your "show-and-tell" post about my shawl. Have to say, that if it wasn't for our shopping trip to buy yarn for your shawl - when I couldn't resist buying some for myself - my project wouldn't have happened. I'm over-whelmed and humbled by all the kind compliments, as I consider myself a beginner-intermediate type of knitter - who makes many errors, pulls back yarn and comes to terms with completion without perfection. This particular yarn, Kauni from Denmark ( is what makes this piece so stunning. As you knit, the variation of different colours roll off the ball - the effect is magical. I love wearing it and it's a sure conversation-opener with other knitters!


  • Jenna

    Jenna on Jan. 7, 2013, 7:18 p.m.

    I am a knitter and a reader. It took me three years to finish a tea cozy that I finally decided to donate to my school auction (motivation to finish it and knit while in class while my students are reading) and the person who won it is very happy to have it. I taught some of my third graders to knit, and yes they can knit while reading, me no, I can only watch movies on my couch and knit while my kids are at day care, because if they are around, I make mistakes and spend more time fixing them than it took to knit it. The shawl if beautiful! Could be my next project. I just finished matching sweaters for my two and five year old. That was there Christmas, oh, wait not done by then, so it became their new years gift. Cheers!


  • Angela

    Angela on Jan. 9, 2013, 7:13 p.m.

    I think the reason so many of us feel like we can read for long stretches but not knit or something else is purely practice. Most have been reading longer than knitting (or whatever). Once I began knitting more it became easier and it is good to something where there is a more concete result.

    As far as looking for yarn that stripes and does the work for you, use any self striping sock (fingerling weight) yarn for this type of pattern. If you can't find the Kauni at your local yarn store, try Zauberball by Schoppel-Wolle.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I do work for a yarn shop.


  • Jenny Depa-Karl

    Jenny Depa-Karl on Jan. 12, 2013, 10:30 a.m.

    Your mom is lovely and her shawl is strikingly beautiful! I love to knit [mostly smalls]...loosing myself in the process. I don't read as much as I'd like to, seems I'm always busy doing things that have to get done! But, when I do read, it's always a 'how-to' type book.

    P.S. I also shop thrift stores and have scored a few beautiful hand-knit, all natural fiber shawls! WOOT!


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