International Knitting :: The Tan House Brook Shawl

As many knitters understand, deciding what knitting to bring along for an extended trip is something that deserves a fair amount of thought. Not only do you need a pattern that is relatively simple (traveling, I’m afraid, isn’t a great time to whip out your heirloom lace knit… well at least not for me), that doesn’t take a large number of skeins (luggage size/weight limits are unmoved by pleas from desperate wool lovers), is rather compact (some passengers on an overly-cramped, international flight might frown upon being occasionally poked by knitting needles), but you also need something that will hold your interest and not be complete before your trip back home is over. In addition, it also behoves one to learn of various airport regulations regarding the allowances or prohibitions of getting knitting needles past security—Charles du Gaulle, for instance, does not permit knitting needles on the plane—so you’ll also need to carefully consider which equipment to take or leave at home or pack in the checked bags as appropriate.

Casting On

Equally important, of course, is the choice of yarn. Because you can not bring your entire stash with you, it is necessary to take some time to consider where you’re going and what you’ll be knitting. I would strongly advise against selecting black, worsted wool for a summer vacation in Greece, or a fluffy glittery angora for your eight hour flight. You might think, as a knitter might, that one can obtain yarn almost anywhere in the world and that a yarn shopping excursion sounds like a wonderful use of down time while on vacation, but the sad truth is that even yarn shop owners like to take a break every now and then. So you may just find yourself standing in front of the singular yarn shop on your beautiful get away island staring at a “gone fishing for August” sign in deep despair. This story may or may not be based on personal experience.

My Own Yarn

Which is how, upon the wise recommendations of my most experienced knitting friends, I found myself winding up my very own hand-spun for a beautiful shawl the day before I flew out. Socks and shawls, they told me, are a knitter’s best friends for long, uninterrupted expanses of travel time, shorter lay-overs, and slowly swaying train rides past fields of golden sunflowers. This was the first time I wound my own yarn for an actual knitting project. I’ve been slowly collecting skeins, eking out a few moments to spin here and there, and the collection has outgrown it’s designated spot. It was just about time to find some way of using what I’ve made. I wish I could tell you more about the fiber—I had it all carefully recorded, the weight, the dye house and colorway, the yardage—but other than the blend (panda roving which is a lovely mix of merino, bamboo, and viscosemy favorite spinning fiber thus far), I’m afraid all other info is lost. I’m hoping the band will pop up as I get the house cleaned up, but for now, it will have to remain a mystery.

On The Med

One of the other bonuses of having such wise and experienced knitting friends, is that a few of them are designers! One of my newer knitting friends, Jennifer Lassonde of Down Cellar Studio, offered up her absolutely lovely Tan House Brook Shawl pattern, which fit all the considerations for the right project perfectly. I waited to cast on until I arrived in Frankfurt, trying my best and utterly failing, to sleep on the flight over in attempts to mitigate the effects of jetlag. And I managed a few rows there as well as the subsequent flight and layover to Athens before arriving in Crete, where I discovered much to my delight, that the hotel room my friend and I were to share, had an absolutely stunning balcony over looking the Mediterranean, perfect for sipping coffee, knitting, and napping!

On The Plane

The Tan House Brook shawl is a lovely, lovely knit, just what I needed for both the trip and my second shawl. Rows of soothing ole’ stockinette to help me recover from nearly 20-some hours of travel, before getting into a perfect little bit of textured stiches, just in time to keep my interest while waiting for the flight to land in Paris. I am sure the passengers next to me are also unknowingly thankful for Jennifer’s pattern, since I managed to leave them in peace instead of asking “are we there yet” the number of times I would have if left unoccupied.

And it was a great companion for our train ride across France and into Germany where we met up with my husband’s relatives for their annual family reunion in his hometown.


On The Train

I was hoping that I would finish it while I was away, but unfortunately due to the regulations at Charles du Gaulle, where the belief is that knitting needles are weapons of mass destruction and terror and not the tools of peace and charity, I had to pack it in the checked bag for the flight home. I was a little worried about what I was going to do with all those hours of sitting without some knitting within my hands, but that was before I remembered about the in-flight entertainment system and all the movies I haven’t been able to see in the past two years. But I am hoping to finish it up in the next week or so as I find myself sitting on the sidelines watching a few kids kick a ball back and forth for the next few weekends.

And if you do find yourself so very anxious regarding the sitting on a plane for nine hours without anything to occupy your hands, you may find that a skein of sock yarn and a few bamboo double pointed straights mixed in with all your pens and pencils in the pocket of your purse do not seem to cause any alarm, concern, or the forcible removal of said items from your cold, sweaty-palmed hands. This story may or may not be based on personal experience.




It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted! I just don’t understand where the time goes as I stand idly by. OK, maybe not so idly… taking care of a one and three year old, being pregnant with our third, chasing after two dogs, trying desperately to keep ahead of the household mess, and getting our first house on the market doesn’t really quite stand up to “idle” now, does it?

But I can’t seem to remember how quickly it all slips through your fingers. So as I sit reading the other blogs and think to myself how I should post to my own, what I really need to be doing is less thinking and more doing. Because in the two moments I have between thoughts, I manage to forget that I might actually have something to blog about.

Like this: Turns out were going to have more estrogen here at our home! We’re having another little girl. Truth be told, we were both hoping that we would end up with two girls and a boy, as I’ve never had a sister–six brothers, no sisters–although we really would’ve been happy with two boys and a girl as well. There was only a slight preference. 😉 Her official due date is December 17th, which is also my father’s birthday, but more than likely, she’ll be a few days early as this will be our third, and this time planned, C-section. It’s a strange feeling, picking out the date on which your child will enter the world, uh, barring any unforeseen circumstances of course.

And in celebration of our recently gender discovery, I managed to cast on a new project for the new little life! Drum roll please!!!

It’s another BSJ! If you would’ve asked me two months ago if I would foresee casting on another one of these suckers in the near or distant future, the answer would’ve been a slight shake of my head and a teeny little grimace. Yet here I am, with one waiting for a little embellishment, and yarn set aside for another! I guess it’s true what they say; the BSJ is truly addicting. Whodda thunk it? I’m not showing the whole thing yet, because I have plans for a few embellishments… a little edging, some cute buttons, a pair of booties, and little hat. I’m pretty sure this will end up being our coming home outfit. If anyone has any idea where to find some truly unique/adorable buttons online, I’m all ears. I’ve looked on etsy, and I have a back-up plan, but I’d really like to know where you all go to find some crazy little notions.

And I’ve also managed to get in some spinning. I had my eye on some gorgeous merino at one of my LYS’s but decided that I was too novice to try something so beautiful. Of course, reason gave way to insanity when it was still there three weeks later, and since it obviously needed a loving home,I had to  bring it back with me. What the heck! The worst that could possibly happen is that I sit and pet it all day and forget to feed my children… and let’s face it, they’ve got to learn how to fend for themselves at some point, right? So here’s beautiful basket of lorna’s laces merino that I’m slowly but surely spinning up.

I’m pretty excited about how fine I’ve managed to spin it so far… of course, I’m sure once I start plying it, it will be ten times thicker than I thought it would be. Oh, and it’s also superwash, which seems to make the fibers even more slippery.  At one point the spindle kept dropping every single time I had to give it another spin. Eventually I figured out I was under spinning the fiber and it was just a little too weak. Huh! Looky Ma! She’s learnin’!! I’m sure all you experienced spinners out there can see that there is a few obvious deviations in the thickness, but I have to say that even with the uneveness, I’m still pretty doggone happy with my progress. This is, after all, only my second spin. I’m trying to be a little less rigid in this particular endeavor. We will see how that goes.

I have more to show and tell, but I’m afraid that it’s time to go get one of the wee ones up from his nap and get him some dinner. So hopefully, another post soon… you know… before another month is up!