An appreciation for process

Worth the wait

Amy's Barton Cottage Shrug, finished just in time to wear it to tea.

If you've been reading my blog posts for a while, then you know that some of my spinning and knitting experiences haven't turned out exactly as I hoped (cough, cough, Printed Silk Cardigan).  But I'm happy to report that I have successfully completed a Barton Cottage Shrug using my handspun yarn—and it is so wonderfully warm and comfortable, that I've had a hard time taking it off. I just want to wear it all the time.

And it only took me two years to complete.

I had started spinning for it in December of 2011—we had finished up our first issue of Jane Austen Knits and I had fallen love with the Barton Cottage Shrug. I even borrowed the sample from the designer, Kristi Schueler (who conveniently lives in Colorado) so that I could wear it to the Birthday Tea put on my local Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) chapter. I purchased a beautiful handpainted blue-gray-purple Polwarth top from Briar Rose Fibers on Etsy and started spinning a fine laceweight yarn. Given my busy schedule (as a working mom of two kids) and the fact that I had just suffered a serious spinning/knitting set back (see the link above for details), I didn't start knitting the shrug until July 2012.

Amy decided to make a thicker button band than recommended in the pattern and is happy with that choice.

Upon completing my swatch, I figured out that I didn't have enough yarn to complete the shrug. So I purchased another bump of fiber from Briar Rose and spun it up. The two colors didn't match exactly—so I decided to alternate them in the knitting—two rows from the purple/blue ball of yarn, two rows from the light blue ball of yarn. I liked the subtle stripes. 

In November, I decided that I wanted long sleeves, and calculated my yardage again and decided that I was going to run out of yarn. So I bought a beautiful deep red handpainted Targhee top from Creation MT (also on Etsy). I had just received a new tool in my spinning studio (aka living room)—a Very Fast Flyer (VFF) for my Lendrum. I couldn't resist using it to spin up the Targhee for my Barton Cottage Shrug. My first skein off of the VFF was a bit overspun (err, energized).

I thought that I'd use the red in the lace edging and the button band, but as I worked on the sleeves in February of 2013, I realized that I was going to run out of blue. So I decided to start integrating the red at the elbow and started alternating two rows of red with two rows of blue. I liked the effect—especially once I was able to knit on the lace edging and then knit the button band in red. In making the sleeves longer, I miscalculated the amount I needed to taper them and ended up ripping them out and redoing the sleeves. When I ripped out one of the sleeves, I had already completed the lace, so I cut it off and reattached it, but it doesn't look as tidy as the knitted-on lace. I'll likely redo it if I can't fix it with duplicate stitch at the join, but first I need to stop wearing it.

I finished it in time to wear it to the 2013 Birthday Tea celebration hosted by my regional JASNA—my sister (who shares a birthday with Jane Austen) came with me and we had a grand time. 

Amy worked on the shrug as she rode across Kansas to visit her Grandmotherlots of good memories caught up in that yarn.

My knitting buddies sometimes make fun of me because it takes me so long to complete a project—but you know, I love the process as much as the finished object. So yes, it took me two years to make my shrug, but I enjoyed every bit of it. In fact, there are a lot of great memories caught up in that yarn, and every time I wear it (which is nearly every day now) I remember them. 

I started another cardigan immediately upon completing my shrug—I had yards and yards of a laceweight yarn I had just finished plying after all that Spinzilla fun in October. I'm making the Ginny Cardigan now from the cover of the Unofficial Harry Potter Knits. I look forward to all the stories and memories that will be embedded in that cardigan when I complete it.

Happy spinning!

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