My body might be going to work every day, but my brain is definitely on holiday. It all started, in a predictable fashion, when I went on holiday with my family last month. When you are on holiday it is a very good thing if your brain comes along for the ride. Luckily, my brain cooperated and I spent a week in which I never thought about work. The day we got back, we all came down with a ghastly bug, which meant we spent a week being truly, horribly ill and then two weeks being queasy, pale and shaky. Unfortunately, work intruded on this time and I dealt with it as well as I could, but my brain decided it was still off-duty thank you very much. And this was followed by a heat wave which is now stretching into its second week. I love the heat so am not complaining, but clearly my brain has used this opportunity to put up a metaphorical “Off fishing” sign, and shows no intention of returning to duty any time soon.
When I packed for my holiday, I took far too much knitting. I took my Neon cardigan, which was done except for the finishing, and I took the back of my Exeter cardigan, a densely cabled piece. Both of these required more than the normal amount of concentration. Why did I take them on holiday? I am not sure. I think I imagined sitting by the side of the pool with my feet up, gazing at the view and knitting. What I didn’t realize was that when you go somewhere new (Lebanon) to visit family that you have never met, and furthermore, when that family runs into the hundreds of people, you don’t spend your time gazing at the view and knitting. I loved absolutely every second of my holiday, and Lebanon is truly a wonderful, magical place, full of absolutely fantastic people. It was not the place to take the kind of knitting that demanded concentration.
Luckily, at the very last minute (while the taxi was pulling up to the door), I threw a skein of Wollmeise Lace-garn into my bag, and printed out a copy of the pattern for Viajante, a shawl (of sorts) by Martina Behm. This is the skein of wool:
It is really a gorgeous blend of purples and blues which I had purchased at Knit Nation 2010 in London. That venue, by the way, was the first time I had ever come into contact with Wollmeise yarn. They had the most amazing display of wool that I have ever seen, before or since, and practically started a stampede by yarn buyers. I kid you not; it had to be experienced to be believed. While there, I purchased three skeins of Wollmeise Pure, and then couldn’t resist this skein of Lace-garn, even though I had no plans for it, and don’t often knit with laceweight yarns.
A skein of Lace-garn has 1591 metres per 300 gram skein. My skein weighed in at 338, so it has even more. (Wollmeise skeins are often generously overweight.) Do you have any idea how long it takes to hand wind that many metres of laceweight yarn into a ball? Answer: it takes a very long time. Eventually, the whole family got into it. Emma and I took turns winding while a number of cousins lent a hand. (Note that this was done by the pool, in front of a lovely view.)
Viajante is a completely gorgeous pattern. It is a sort of a combination of shawl and poncho, and is a really clever, original design. I loved it the minute I first saw the pattern on Ravelry. Here are a couple of the pattern photos:
Even though I loved this pattern straight off, and even had the perfect yarn for it sitting in my stash, I still had no intention of ever making it. This was for two reasons. First, the idea of knitting this enormous shawl in laceweight in stockinette seemed like an act of torture. Surely, I reasoned, it would take a year to knit and cause me to pull out all of my hair in the meantime. Second, even though I think it is completely gorgeous I really couldn’t visualize myself actually wearing it.
Enter Rachel. Rachel is a colleague of mine at the university, and the only one who knits. She gave a talk a few months ago, and I went to hear it. The talk was truly fascinating, but I must admit I could not keep my eyes off the Viajante shawl which she had just finished knitting, and which she wore to give her talk in, in an obvious ploy to make me jealous. As soon as the talk was done, I ran up and asked her if I could touch it. “Here,” she said, pulling it off, “Try it on! I knew you would want to.” I was completely smitten. Would I wear this? Absolutely. I decided at that point that if I was ever insane enough to want to knit endlessly in stockinette with laceweight yarn, I would knit myself a Viajante.
Viajante can be worn as a poncho or as a shawl. It is knit in a tube. It is totally mindless knitting (and when I say that I really mean it – there are hundreds upon hundreds, maybe even thousands, of tiny, laceweight stitches on tiny needles knit in the round). It is the perfect “my brain is on holiday and I can’t be bothered to think about anything” knitting. You could knit this while sleeping if necessary. You could definitely knit it while laughing and talking and eating fabulous food with hundreds of newly-met relatives. You could also definitely knit it while recovering from the flu and barely hanging in there. You could certainly knit it in 30+ degree heat with humidity, even while imbibing gin.