WIP Wednesday: Hannah’s Beech Leaf Shawl

A few years ago, the previous editor of Interweave Knits, Lisa Shroyer, planned a magical photo shoot. Well, all of the photo shoots she planned were magical, but this one in particular had me very excited. It was for Interweave Knits Spring 2015, and we were shooting at one of my favorite places in Fort Collins: the Smokestack Pottery studio, next to an upcycled furniture store called Wool Hat.

Some context: I’ve loved pottery about as long as I’ve loved knitting. These two hobbies have been reliable sources of therapy and reinvigoration for me. Sitting down at the potter’s wheel and centering a hunk of clay when I’m feeling off-center in my life positively impacts me in ways I can’t quite explain. And so, when I first moved to Fort Collins, I was determined to find a space where I could take a pottery class or just utilize open studio time. That first weekend after my move, I was walking my dog along the river near my house, and the trail spit me out right in front of Smokestack Pottery. I went inside and spoke to the owner about classes, and in a short time the space became an important part of my new Colorado life.

Fast-forward to about a year later: I find myself with our photo crew in the pottery studio photographing beautiful handknit projects. I had several freak out moments, geeking out about how my passions were coming together in this interesting way I never expected. It was a memorable day for me because it clarified my place in a new community in the context of my two most beloved crafts.


One of the projects we photographed that day was the Beech Leaf Shawl by Joan Forgione. I have often admired the simple beauty of this pattern created by stockinette stitch paired with a lace edging. The yarn used for the project—Shibui Knits Maai—was brand new at the time. It is some of the most scrumptiously squishy yarn I’ve ever felt and used. Whenever it comes across my desk at work, I’m reminded of that wonderful day at the photo shoot. I also enjoy looking back at the issue’s gorgeous photography that includes my favorite things. Recently, I decided to purchase the yarn and cast on for my own Beech Leaf Shawl.

This project is perfect for “knitflix” binges. The beginning of the pattern is just stockinette stitch and short-rows, so there’s really nothing to keep track of or a need to pay attention whatsoever. This kind of knitting re-centers me in the way that throwing pots does, and it has been something I’ve needed in my life lately. I have a few projects going that require a little more attention, so I’m leaving those at the office and using this project as my evening enjoyment at home while I watch Parks and Recreation.

I’ve never done a knitted-on edging before, so I’m sure when I get to that point it will require more attention. But for right now, it’s mindless—which is just what I need.

What do you have on the needles right now that soothes your soul and brings you back to your center?

Happy knitting,

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