Friday, December 09, 2005

Why Shawls?

It’s a fairly well established fact that I’ve become addicted to shawls, to lace shawls specifically, in the past year. It’s interesting that I can’t quite put my finger on why. Why am I addicted to a garment that up until this year, I’d never worn? Now I make them and wear them - and wear them and wear them. I cannot imagine that I have survived almost half a century without owning one of these wondrous wraps. I remember a vague representation from childhood that shawls were what “little old ladies” wore, and I’ve just admitted that I’m about at the “age of maturity” (and a Nana to boot!). But these shawls are not what grandma wore. These shawls are works of art! They are lace!

Lace knitting, I believe, is an addictive process. Much like yoga or Zen meditation, the brain is slowed, the entire cardiac system follows suit, and a healthful, peaceful state is achieved. (I am not suggesting that lace knitting cannot also make the heart race, as happens when you’ve discovered an error in your work without having a lifeline in place!)

But that type of calm is addictive, especially when you’re the classic Type A personality that I am…I breed heart disease in every (short, shallow, tense) breath. Except when I’m knitting lace. When I knit lace, my breathing expands, my heart slows, my blood pressure drops. Combine lace knitting with a violin or cello concerto and I’m as close to nirvana as I can get.

Lace knitting is an artistic process, too. While at present, I knit other people’s art (other people’s lace shawl patterns) my art is in the details of stitches, colorations and textures. Perhaps one day, I’ll design my own lace shawl pattern, but for now I’m perfectly happy to render other people’s ideas in my own creations. The drama of a lace shawl, tossed over a simple top and slacks or long skirt showcases my knitting abilities and proclivities….

I’ve been asked what one does with more than one shawl. It’s a question of some amusement to me…what does one do with more than one sweater? As many yarns as there are to try, as many shawl patterns, the possibilities are simply endless. Shawls are a salvation in summer air conditioning, and extra warmth in chill winters when one is trying to keep the heating bill at a reasonable level.

If indeed a lace shawl knitter is put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of shawls in a lifetime, at present I’m too far behind to ever be concerned with dying. There are four in my home, ready to be knitted (the yarn and patterns purchased) and at least 4 more in the planning process (yarn and patterns chosen, but not purchased). Of course, there is one on the needles. Two lace shawls are complete.

I’ve completed a third shawl, a healing shawl, my first, in K3, P3 pattern that is not lace. I have another healing shawl in process, too. But the healing shawl movement is subject for another essay on another day.

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