Sunday, January 8, 2012


So I had a shawl design come out this past week as part of the glorious, I-want-to-knit-everything-in-the-whole-lookbook collection, Wool People Volume 2 by Brooklyn Tweed.

(All photos of Winnowing in Loft copyright Brooklyn Tweed and Jared Flood)

First off, I need to acknowledge how completely humbled and thrilled I am to be among such amazing designers in this issue; I don't think there's ever been a more appropriate time for the immortal words of Wayne and Garth, "I'm not worthy!"

close detail
(All photos of Winnowing in Serena copyright Bristol Ivy--yep, talking about myself in the third person)

While I recover from the daze and shock of the whole thing, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the pattern and the path it's taken. Because nothing's ever simple with me, this one had a looooong and interesting evolution (which I will intersperse with pictures, because we're all human). It started when I first got to college in 2003.

I am a Maine girl. I am a child of rocks and oceans, pine trees and autumn leaves as far as the eye can see. However, the college I was determined to attend was in. . . Iowa. Corn fields. Wheat fields. Soybean fields. A disturbing lack of ocean. Oh dear. But one of the things I noticed, and came to watch for on the drives to and from the Des Moines airport over the years, was that sudden moment when a seemingly random field of corn would line up perfectly with my view from the bus. I could see straight down the rows and furrows of the corn, evenly spaced and radiating out like sunrays. Even this past June, going back to Iowa after four years away, I watched for that heartbeat of a moment along the highway. And, me being me, I started scheming about how I could turn this into a knitting design.


Things did not start smoothly, though. The stitch pattern I chose to work with was not playing nicely with traditional shapings. Triangular top down? Nope. Pi shawl? Heck no. A sideways triangle? Absolutely not. I mused about it for a few weeks this summer, trying this many extra repeats of the pattern, then that many more stitches wide, then tore out my hair and put it on the backburner while I went to teach at Medomak. While there, I sat in on Daniel's class on shawl shaping. Timely, right? His discussion spurred some new ideas for me--what if I just said heck with it and see what happens? I knew now that stitches that doubled in stitch count every repeat could work. So I went for it.

cover shot

The first shawl I knit (after much head-scratching and throwing of the pattern against the wall) was in Manos Del Uruguay Serena, a really gorgeous and interesting combination of baby alpaca and pima cotton. I liked the results, especially after the transformation it went through in the blocking process (because, even though I can do all the math and mentally understand that the shaping will work, it's not until it's finally all pinned out on the blocking board that I can uncross my fingers and take a deep sigh of relief).

winnowing before blocking
(Before blocking, in a strange greyscale that seems to be all I have saved of this picture)

winnowing after blocking
(After blocking! Big difference!)

But then Loft came along. And I swooned. Let's face it--I still swoon. And when I got a sneak peek of the finished and blocked shawl knit up in the wonderfully multi-faceted color Meteorite (which had been knit by a seriously awesome sample knitter), I might have cried a little. The evolution of this little shawl has been an amazing one for me, and I can't wait to see where it goes next!

Winnowing is a top down Faroese-style shawl, knit in twisted rib with an applied knitted edging. It's available at Brooklyn Tweed and Ravelry, and soon in print through Brooklyn Tweed's pattern retailers.


  1. I loved Winnowing the second I saw it in Wool People, and I love it even more now that I know the inspiration. Thank you for designing such a beautiful pattern! Now I just have to wait for my yarn to arrive!

  2. It's a beautiful pattern! As a Hawkeye, I can see the inspiration, for sure. Excellent job capturing Iowa (and getting into a BrooklynTweed book! Congrats!)!

  3. Thanks for sharing the background story to your beautiful pattern. I loved learning about your creative inspiration and thought process, from start to finish.

  4. I am a garment knitter as a rule, and tend to stay far away from shawls. But this shawl is stunning and I'm already looking at Loft and trying to decide what color...

  5. Thank you all for your kind words! I'm now itching to go back to the cornfields. . .