Seeing purple

Seeing purple

My grandmother’s 90th birthday is now one week from tomorrow and I am still debating about her shawl. The yarn selection seems much more critical to me than the pattern and I’ve been agonizing over it. The 100% silk I had thought I would use turned out to not float my boat when I swatched with it. What I really want for her climate is a wool-linen or wool-silk-linen blend, and what I think I am officially settled on is this Shibui Staccato (70% merino, 30% silk) and Linen held together and knitted at a slightly loose gauge, on 5mm needles. I bought the yarn online without having seen this color, Velvet (best name ever), in person. Turns out the color looks a little more raisin-y on the linen base than on the wool-silk blend, but held together it works — it gives the purple a little more depth.

I’m not sure it will be a joy to knit with — it’s a massive departure from the wonderfully sticky, rustic Hole & Sons I’ve spent the past month with — and I cannot knit it on my beloved Dreamz circs because of the abominable color-coding. Dark purple yarn on dark pink needles? Not only does it offend my delicate sensibilities, I can’t see my stitches at all, which is a little bit of a problem when holding linen filament double with something. So I’ll have to knit on bamboo, which is fine!

Between that splitty-fiddliness and its being a pain to put back on the needles if any ripping were required, I’m also giving up on the idea of doing anything lace with it — not when I’m already under the gun here. But along the way I also saw Ashley knitting a dark purple Orlane for her mother and let out the biggest sigh of envy. I told myself it would be silly to knit Orlane’s Textured Shawl for a third time when there are so many great shawls out there, but if that’s my favorite shawl of all time, is it not exactly what I should knit for her?


UPDATE: I cast on late last night and this is definitely the right decision—

Seeing purple

41 thoughts on “Seeing purple

  1. Go for it today, whatever you decide. You don’t want to end up knitting until dawn for nights, cursing yourself for not making the decision earlier. I learned something years ago about deciding between two many options: faced with I don’t know, take a deep breath and ask yourself: and if I knew, what would it be? The first thing that comes to mind is the right answer. Now go for it and cast on today

  2. Those shades of purple are so lovely. But I agree, I don’t think lace would be a great idea, I think the colour would drown it out completely. Have you considered cabinfour’s Pure? It’s a nice, textured shawl, I think it might work with this yarn.

  3. Lovely!

    Did you choose purple because of the poem?

    When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
    And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
    I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
    And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
    And run my stick along the public railings
    And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
    And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
    And learn to spit.

    You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
    And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
    Or only bread and pickle for a week
    And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

    But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
    And pay our rent and not swear in the street
    And set a good example for the children.
    We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

    But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
    –Jenny Joseph

  4. If you have decided against lace it is a moot point, but do you know about the lifeline concept? You run a contrasting piece of yarn through a row with a stable stitch count every inch or so. That way if you mess up, you can frog back to that row and know where you are in your pattern…. But perhaps this is not needed.

    • Yeah, I believe in lifelines. I just want to keep it simple with this fabric and trying to knit quickly — minimize the number of things that could cause any grief or setbacks. I’ll enjoy it this way!

  5. Knitting a pattern you are familiar with, will make it go quicker. Plus if it is a pattern you love, I bet she will too.

  6. I love the depth those two shades held together give to the purple. It’s so interesting how different fibers take dyes differently and I think in this case, it definitely works.

    I’m sure your mother will love whatever you decide to knit for her, so you should choose something that makes you happy to knit!

    • Yeah, I’m generally not a fan of flat color and the Staccato already has some nice depth to it, but this just gives it a little extra complexity.

  7. I know what you mean about knitting the same pattern again, but I tend to stick to my tried and true favorites, especially when time is of the essence. I also think it’s even more of a gift when it’s a shawl pattern you love yourself. Even separated by distance, it will be nice to think of you and your grandmother wearing your shawls at the same time.

  8. No doubt the shawl will be beautiful and your grandmother will love it! I recently made my 90 year old mother a lap blanket – she loves it and proudly tells everyone who visits that the blanket folded on the back of her couch was made by me. It makes me feel like a daughter again and not just a caregiver.

  9. These 2 colours are absolutely wonderful together and YES do the Orlane and ‘git r done’ and you will not have any extra pressure on you and she will be delighted I know! Those colours…so deep and lovely.

  10. Just the openning sentence gives me heart palpitations. Eenie Meenie Money Me and get it done! Ack!

  11. Very much looking forward to seeing the finished shawl. “Plum” purple (as they call this Shuibui purple) makes me smile even if its not a big part of my wardrobe.

  12. Karen, I took one look at the yarn you are thinking about using and thought that the combination was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in a long time. What first came to my mind was Laura Nelkin’s “Pavito Shawl”. Holding the two yarn together in the dense sections and then using one of the two yarns in the more see through areas. As to which colour for the “airy” sections, I’m not sure ans would want to swatch and see what the “zing” factor is. Thinking about it, , again swatching it out, you may be able to alternate each yarn in the open areas.
    Now, I love the yarn. I can’t really comment on the the ease of how they knit up, or the needles I’d rather use, (It’s the devil to knit something that is going to take a bit of time and not be able to use your favorite ones, which can be akin to the Chinese Water torture as far as I’m concerned), After reading every word, it really sounded to me as if you weren’t really happy about using the yarn at all. I think you should use the type of yarn you love the most. This is a gift to a special person in your life and not only should it please your Grandmother, it should hold in it’s folds all that is you! I know that sounds kind of funny, but when you give her that shawl, she will be wrapping you around her, your smiles and hopes for the future and the memories of the past. Just keep that in mind, do want to knit a bit of a story about the two of you, or, do you want to be fighting the yarn, frogging it , because you made a stupid mistake because it is more a chore than a delight to knit. I hope I explained that right. Everyone should love what the knit and the fiber you pick to knit with…for me, if I don’t, it’s pure disaster. What would happen then is every time I saw that shawl I’d cringe.
    Good Luck…You’ve hit the right colour I think but the wrong fiber. Can hardly wait to see the shawl when you’ve finished!
    Knit On! Your Neighbor in North Carolina, Kirsten

    • I appreciate that, Kirsten. But my point was that I love the fabric, and wound up deciding on Orlane so that I’m working with the yarn instead of fighting it trying to get it to be something else.

      • Oh, Karen, I hope I didn’t hurt your feeling in any way. First, I absolutely Love the yarn. Looking at the picture for the first time…the way the 2 colours worked and blended gave movement and depth to the swatch. It’s one of those rare times you realize that you can’t take your eyes away from it. It enchants and pulls you in. Now I know why they say that purple is the colour of royalty ! It sounded to me like you weren’t sure. I wondered, because the swatch looked great, and the yarn popped in the section that was the moss/seed stitch stitch..(There are times that it’s hard to tell from a photo). For me, this yarn screams for texture.
        One thing I do know, when we make things for Family/Those we Love, we pour all we have into it and forget that fibers have a mind of their own. They do not wast anything to do with simple and classic, they want to ride the wave of the unexpected , curving and twisting with delight, Sooo, hang ten fingers around needles and yarn. I can hardly wait to see the finished”Orlane”

  13. It never works to force a yarn to do what it is not meant to do….go with your instincts…they are usually right. My middle daughter would love to have a shawl in that purple yarn! :)

  14. What a beautiful deep color! I often find myself being torn apart between patterns, so sometimes I just come back to the good old time-proved patterns that I’ve already made. It’s kind of a soothing relaxing type of knitting when you know exactly what to expect.

  15. You mentioned the Shibui Staccato, but what brand is the Linen . I don’t often knit with two yarns, but I do like the depth it adds to your color selection.

  16. Staggering those yarns could make for a beautiful subtle shadow striping that would also be light weight with nice drape. Together, those two yarns might not be as all-season as you’d like. But, it is hard to go wrong with Shibui, and in the end, you have to go with your own instincts. The colors are gorgeous!

  17. This is funny! I’m knitting the linen in velvet too, but with undyed sparrow, for a marled sweater. I’m sure your shawl would be lovely. The chained yarn is a little annoying.

  18. A week? OMG! That gives me hives just thinking about it! I love your moxy that you are still moving forward. Good Luck! I am sure whatever you decide will be gorgeous and cherished by her. Tell her happy birthday from all of us!

  19. Nice swatch! Great colors. Nana will love it, and so will you, because you know the pattern and you can knit with love instead of fiddling with charts! Happy b-day!

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