Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Special Arrival

As many of you know, I've been knitting Prayer Shawls all throughout 2009. It has been a real pleasure for me to undertake making shawls for others when they are most in crisis or need. I'm not a big producer, and have only knit a few, yet making and giving them has been extremely meaningful to me.

Well, I have belonged to a Prayer Shawl group on Ravelry. Several months ago, we all decided to do an exchange between those in our group - a partner swap kind of thing. And we prayed for our partner and their special challenges over those 2-3 months that we were making their gift. During that process, we got to know one another much better.

My partner is Cindy Carter from Florida. Some of you who know me in "real life" saw me knitting on this shawl for her over the past few months. So the first two photos here are of the Boxleaf Stole, a design by Anne Hanson that I made for her.

At any rate, I was very happy with the way the shawl I knit her turned out, except it was a little long, but she didn't seem to mind that. She liked the colors and the stole's rectangular shape.

Next photos are of the shawl I received from her which is "Tis a Gift to Be Simple" Shawl that she designed and knit for me.

Well, I came home on Tuesday night to find the most amazing gift, made from Malabrigo's "Stonechat" colorway. When I opened the package, and unwrapped the shawl, it absolutely took my breath away. To say that it was WAY MORE than I'd expected is quite an understatement! I immediately wrapped the shawl around me, and I chose to wear it doubled up. Wrap it around you and the feeling it creates is a mantle of love, warmth and well being.

This magnificent rectangular shawl, one of the loveliest knitted items I've ever seen in my entire life, is called "Tis a Gift to Be Simple" after one of my very favorite hymns of all time. I always thought it was Quaker song, but Cindy says the song is actually Shaker.

I found that Cindy is a remarkable person who is extremely intelligent, and who is quite talented in music as well needle arts. She's the type of knitter that Elizabeth Zimmermann would have loved to knit with because she doesn't follow a pattern to the letter - but is creative enough to branch out on her own - to see how she wants to make something in her head, and to translate that in her knitting.
This is how Cindy explains the shawl's creation in her own words:

The basic construction of the shawl follows Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Stonington Shawl. I chose lace patterns for the center panel, borders and edging.

The design for this shawl came to me in a dream. I had stayed up late on Ravelry looking at ideas for a pattern (right, like you never do that!). I love the pattern browser. Anyway, nothing seemed to really fit what I wanted to do for Chelle. The next morning, I woke up knowing exactly what the shawl would look like. I wanted something that would express the simplicity of faith, inspired by the Shaker song “Simple Gifts” and the Shaker aesthetic. Strong, geometric, functional and straightforward.

The center panel is adapted from a lace pattern in Eugen Beugler’s Symmetry in Silk. The border pattern of alternating triangles is from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, page 264, Pyramidal Lace Check. The 4 sides of the square shawl, and the square center lace motif represent the 4 Gospels. The triangles in the border are a reminder of the Trinity. The shawl is edged in Godmother’s Edging, traditionally used on christening shawls, and chosen as a reminder of our baptism. The Godmother’s Edging pattern is also from Walker’s Second Treasury, page 361.

Simple Gifts at St. Gregory of Nyssa

‘Tis the gift to be simple,
‘tis the gift to be free,
‘tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
It will be in the valley of love and delight.


When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed.
To turn, turn will be our delight,
‘Til by turning, turning we come round right

‘Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
‘Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we’ll all live together and we’ll all learn to say,


‘Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,
‘Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of “me”,
And when we hear what others really think and really feel,
Then we’ll all live together with a love that is real.


Elysbeth said...

Holy smokes! Both shawls are amazing.

Beautiful work Cindy.

(And it helps that stonechat is my favourite MMMMalbrigo colorway.)

monica said...

The shawls are absolutely breathtaking!!! Thank you for visiting my blog!

CeliaAnne said...

Takes your breath away is right. That is a stunning shawl.