Years ago, I designed a sweater that actually was awarded an honorable mention in the design competition at that year’s Knitting Guild of America convention. I received a bunch of yarn, needles and other swag to take home along with my dreams of creating more designs. But, life got busy. Ideas of designing became just that, ideas. Ravelry wasn’t a thing yet and I had no idea how to even begin to submit designs to magazines. I’d tell myself, “perhaps I’ll do that someday” if I gave it any thought at all.
Perhaps it’s age, perhaps it’s having my life shattered by tragic loss or perhaps it’s having the entire world put on pause for the past year, or possibly a combination of all three, but for whatever reason, I’ve come to the realization that life is short and finite. It’s easy when you are dealing with the minutia of every day life to lose sight of that. You think there’s more time.
Towards the end of 2020, I decided that someday needed to become now. Those ideas were never going to become a reality if they only remained ideas in my head. It was time to put those ideas on my needles and so I committed myself to doing two things this year. One, I would design and publish four knitting patterns by the end of 2021 and two, that at least one of the the works in progress on my needles would always be a design of my own.
Okay, commitment made, but how to fulfill it? Lots of ideas bubbled in my head but where to begin? After reading Shelly Brander’s book Move The Needle: Yarns from an Unlikely Entrepreneur, I sketched out a mind map. (Quick book review note: this is a great book for anyone thinking of starting something new but afraid to try. I highly recommend it.)
If you can read my lousy handwriting, the mind map has me designing and publishing patterns in April, June, September and December. It didn’t take much time, along with a crazy work month in January, to realize that the timeline was too rigid and stressful. I gave myself permission to adjust. I realized to be successful, I needed to keep it simple and give myself time to grow. Baby steps.
As I tossed ideas around, I realized I wanted to somehow use an anchor in the design. During the past few years, the symbol of an anchor has taken on great significance to me. Shortly after his 18th birthday, our son Mason, got a tattoo to represent our hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. The tattoo was an anchor under which were the Latin words, Vixi Liber Et Moriar. That phrase is the motto for the city of Annapolis. It means “I have lived free and will die free.”
In 2017, at the age of 22, we lost Mason to suicide. After he died, knitting became my anchor in a sea of grief. When you lose someone to suicide, you’re left with lots of questions that have no answers. As a parent, you find yourself second guessing every choice you’ve ever made. Thoughts of “if I had done this or if I hadn’t done that would it be different?” fill your mind and consume your thoughts as you try to grapple with the pain of grief along with feelings of guilt. Knitting calmed my mind, allowing me to focus on moving forward just one stitch at a time. The yarn moving through my fingers was soothing and gave me comfort. Slowly, with each stitch, I begin to heal. Knitting saved me and showed me a way to move forward with life at a time I didn’t know if I could. I needed this design to represent all that and to honor Mason. It would also pay tribute the the city Mason loved and that me and my family have called home for over 30 years.
I tossed around lots of garment ideas and then it hit me, instead of a sweater that needed shaping and the grading of sizes, why not begin with a shawl? So I sketched this rough design.
Looking through stitch patterns, I stumbled upon a lace flower motif that could be modified to become an anchor. I knit up a swatch with some stash yarn on hand. Perhaps this will work!
Using Excel, I created a chart for the anchor motif. Using a super wash merino, the color of blue that matched my son’s eyes, I cast on and began to knit.
I’ve knit a triangle shawl before but I had never knit one before with a center panel. It took a bit of research and starting, ripping out and restarting, to figure out how to execute the beginning garter tab so that it included enough stitches for the panel motif. I also played with some stitch patterns for the background on either side of the center panel but after a bit, decided garter stitch set off the lace anchor motif better than anything else. With a final plan in place, I ripped back once more and began knitting my design.
Because the shawl has a center panel and doesn’t create a true triangle, I decided to knit a perpendicular edge, something else I’d never tried before. I chose a pattern that resembles a wave and really like the way it completes the nautical theme of the design.
I’ve very happy with the design and can’t wait to share it with you. I’ll post a full picture of the shawl once it is officially published but for now, here is a peek of the finished shawl.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day writing up the pattern. I have to say I enjoyed that process as much as I did knitting the shawl. Now I just have to hire a tech editor to critique and polish the pattern and find some test knitters to knit samples! I hope to officially publish the pattern some time in May. Wish me luck and if you’d like to be a test knitter, drop me a note! Kim