Friday, November 24, 2006

the graduation shawl challenge

[edited to add links that didn't work the first time and endnote below]

knitting (and spinning) has been a big part of my medical school education…so much so that my personal statement included at least one “wool” mention in each paragraph. (that’s the same personal statement that has gotten me interviews at the places I applied, so I’m not worried that they thought it was strange.) Wool has been pivotal to my getting this far, and I’m relying on it (heavily) to get through the next 27 weeks.

I’ve attempted to knit lace in the past and only had limited success. That being said, I’ve been overcome with the urge to knit a shawl for my graduation. I’ve been thinking about it for the past several weeks and was going to keep the idea to myself until I had things lined up, but I need some help….

the color of my “hood” is green – somewhere between a kelly green and hunter green. (it’s a velvety texture and can change with the light) The color green is the traditional color for the field of medicine, and though it’s not my favorite color, I like the idea of knitting with the color green for this project. I’d love to find something with silk and with some subtle variegations but I’m not having any luck! I contacted a few of the people I’ve bought hand-dyed yarn from in the past (and need to send out a few more emails), but many do not take on custom orders. I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to dye it myself (or with guidance from those who know what they are doing) but that begs the question of when and where I’d find the space, materials and time – let alone what I’d do if my experiment fails to produce what I’m thinking about.

My next quandary is the pattern. I have several lace patterns that have been knit by many people (flower baskets, icarus, helen’s lace pattern, etc) but if I’m going to pick a color that mirrors my graduation color, I feel like I should try and find something that has a sentimental element to it. The caduceus is the best known medical symbol (I just spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out it’s origin and I’m just as confused as this guy) but after reading this I’m leaning away from intertwined snakes and a set of wings.

(however, a single “snake-like” design around something that resembles a “staff” still appeals to me. That should be easy to find…shouldn’t it?)

On the one hand I don’t want to make this a complicated project, but on the other hand I don’t want to just knit anything – trying to find the balance before running out of time is why I’m going to ask you…
do you have any ideas? about the yarn or pattern? thoughts?

[note: Sundara is one of the people I've emailed - because what I am looking for is custom, it isn't something that she'll do...]


Anonymous Shanti said...

Have you e-mailed Sundara Murphy? She has a lovely silk laceweight and an amazing variety of nearly solid yarns that might fit your color scheme.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous ravelled sleeve said...

The shawl project sounds wonderful. Have you tried Sundara ( yarn? I notice she has some gorgeous green somewhat solid silk lace on her Currently Available page -- although it may be a yellower green than you're looking for.

Good luck finding the right yarn and pattern!

10:43 AM  
Anonymous mamacate said...

Um, I can think of a reasonably well-equipped place to live and dye (heh!) during the month of January. Just saying.

PS: Henry's Attic silk & ivory would make a nice dye blank.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Jocele said...

What a great idea. I wish I had learned to knit before medical definitely would have helped me get through it a bit easier. Good luck, and enjoy the last few months.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just the yarn in my stash. It's from Just Our Yarn, and it's their gorgeous green (with subtle gradations from dark emerald green to a lighter forest green) in their laceweight cashmere. It's thirty bucks a skein, and I think it's 500 yds per skein.

I'd call them. They are wonderful when it comes to customer service, and they will have just the thing. If the cashmere doesn't sound right, their tencel is beautiful, and they have some other fibers that are good. High quality stuff.

If they don't have anything in stock, e-mail me, and we'll work something out. I'm sure this green will work--it is close to my hubby's hood's color, if I'm not mistaken.

What a great idea! You can carry it with you in case you get cold, and you won't wear the gown the whole day. It will be perfect, no matter which design you pick. I know this is a bad reference, but what about the Icarus shawl?

3:14 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...

What a great idea! No yarn suggestions, but I recommend a pattern more symbolic than representative. Maybe some intertwining leaves or branches type thing rather than trying to have a picture in there.

3:20 PM  
Blogger maryse said...

for a pattern, how about a semi-circle type shawl with panels with inter-twining cables that kind of look like the snakes, but aren't snakes. sorry it's not clear but i'll send you a sketch of what i'm talking about.

4:33 PM  
Blogger margene said...

The shawl sounds like a very ambitious project and one that would be wonderful to acknowledge your accomplishment. Wish I could help. Good luck! Maryse might have just the thing!

9:25 AM  
Blogger Marcy said...

Woot! Graduation! Magic word, that. :D Great idea to knit something appropriate to the occasion. I think you should do what Maryse said where Mamacate said. And I'll come cheer you on.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous ravelled sleeve said...

If Just Our Yarn doesn't have what you're looking for, what about Spunky Eclectic for yarn? She does special orders, and semi-solid colourways. Seems to be only (!) merino lace on the website, although perhaps you could work something out...?

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

Yeah, keep the snake simple, otherwise you will drive yourself motif-nuts. The only thing worse than the futziness of lace is the futziness of ripping lace.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Jackie said...

Guess I'm not the only one who was going to suggest Sundara ;)

I haven't knit much lace, so I don't have anything to add except WHOOHOOO! GRADUATION!!!

8:45 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

What about Scout J? She does custom dye jobs. Or Emily Parson of :What's That Gonna Be:? She has sock yarn up at that might give you a sense of her dyeing. I think she may be willing to consider custom work.. Although I'm not sure what they use as a base yarn and if it would work for you...

4:02 PM  
Anonymous elisa said...

It sounds like you've already gotten some great suggestions about yarn and patterns so I'll just toss this in: Do not underestimate the power of the spreadsheet.

When I was knitting my wedding shawl (The misti alpaca Icarus) I had a spreadsheet that listed out all the rows, the number of stitches per row and then a quicky poo calculation let me know how many stitches I needed to knit per day in order to have the shawl completed for the wedding. It sounds crazy, but it really helped me keep on track. If I had a couple of super productive days (which you do with Icarus, as the majority of the body is a very simple repeat) I reduced the overall number of stitches per day. It was also great to see the number of stitches left to knit go down, down, down...

Of course, the spreadsheet may not be a Thing of Joy for you but Just More Stress...

2:58 PM  
Anonymous ronni lynn spoll said...

I also needed a yarn custom dyed for a shawl and did alot of research on the dyeing & yarn, etc.
For the most perfect custom dyed yarn get in touch with Cheryl Potter of cherry tree hill yarns.
Her website is
and she has fabulous yarns of any type and fabulous colors for you to peruse & if you don't see what you want I am 99.9% sure she will hone in on what you want and do it
and it will be the best. She's the gal who wrote all those great knitting books on dyeing yarns and lace knitting, etc.
I'm just one very satisfied knitter who got some custom dyed yarns from her and never was disappointed.

11:28 PM  

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