Once upon a time, early in the fall before I was thinking about scheduling all the gift knitting I’d need to finish in time for the holidays, my friend at work passed me some yarn.

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It was not my type of yarn – a light brown mohair blend twisted around a copper-colored cord, with a thin silver thread that twined and snarled around them both – but I couldn’t say no to the yarn or to my friend, especially after she thought of turning that yarn into a shawl for her grandmother for Hanukah. So I took the yarn (anny blatt) and some size 10.5 needles and took to Ravelry, in search of the perfect pattern. Luckily for me, there was the Old Shale Shawl.

It checked all the initial boxes: the yarn was more or less the right weight (and I had about the right amount for the pattern), it would go fast on large needles, it had a simple but graceful lace pattern, and it was big enough to really be used as a shawl to bundle up in.

It knit up even better than I expected. The lace was intuitive, and alternating between stockinette and lace broke up both sections so that just as I started to tire of one (especially as the rows got looong), the pattern shifted to the other.

The reason I didn’t complete the whole shawl (I stopped and did some garter stitch and bound off before the final lace section) was because of the yarn. This is why I can’t handle novelty yarns – ouch! The mohair and copper cord were really splitty, and things went slowly as I kept checking to make sure I’d picked up both strands in a stitch. And that silver thread bunched up in loops (I have to imagine on purpose, because it happened throughout 7 skeins) that caught on the needles and roughed up my hands. As much as I liked the pattern, once it started to look big enough I wound up stopping so that I wouldn’t have to knit with that yarn anymore.

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So, good pattern, less than cooperative yarn – and that was just knitting! I hadn’t worked with mohair before, so I did some research to figure out the way to block it. Apparently it’s best to spray mohair with water and then pin into shape. I usually block on a table or a towel, depending on what I’m blocking, but this shawl (thanks to the mostly artificial fiber content) was having none of it, and kept springing back into a trapezoid sort of shape while it dried or after I unpinned it. The third round, I sprayed it down really thoroughly, and pinned that sucker to the floor. Success! It blocked out beautifully that time, and to a 70-inch wingspan.

And so the shawl was knit and blocked and given – though I did catch my friend wearing it at work the day I passed it to her. She said that her grandmother was really pleased with it, too, and so the whole fight with that yarn was worth it. Next up is racing to finish all those gifts that I want to have done in just 15 short days!

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