FO: Westport Shawl

I’ve finished my first project since starting work. Looks like knitting and being a productive member of society can co-exist! I was having some trouble finding a balance between the two at first, but now I’ve settled into a nice routine.

Pattern: Westport Shawl by Sarah Wilson
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Multy

I only did 14 repeats (2 less than recommended) for the middle section, mostly because I was anxious to finish. It turned out to be the perfect size.

Here are some photos.

Blocked Lace Edge

Button Stitch Detail

Lace Edging



Last week I had an experience I imagine other people have when they see a famous [insert profession of choice here].  I  saw the Yarn Harlot  give a talk at the Downtown Knitters Guild in Toronto, and I was utterly starstruck! I even got a chance to kinnear her!

It’s a word, check it out.

Truthfully, I almost didn’t go to the talk. I was worried that seeing her in person would destroy the characterization of her I’d created. I was worried I would discover she had some strange voice, or some other weird quirk that I would never be able to detach from my idea of her. In short, I worried that seeing the real her wouldn’t live up to the characterization I had developed from religiously reading her blog, books and anything else she’s produced.

Not going would have been a huge mistake. She turned out to be even better than I expected. She was more down-to-earth than I could have imagined. And my god, FUNNY! Now as a regular reader, I know she’s funny, that’s part of the reason I like her so much. I just didn’t expect her to be that funny all the time. It was like watching a knitting themed stand-up show. I was in stitches (pardon the pun) throughout her talk.

The talk was about how knitting affects the brain. At first it seemed like it was just going to be a rehashing of an essay from her latest book. Nope, it was just the set up for a detailed, well researched and insightful talk that got into the nitty-gritty of brain function (water-down for us non-neurosurgeon types).

Some of my favourite topics were her discussion of trauma and video games. She discussed a Cambridge study about trauma and how repetitive motor activities (aka knitting) can lessen the impact of witnessing a horrific event. The study’s conclusion was that it was “not practical to carry emergency knitting”. If only they knew. She also presented a strong case, based on Tom Chatfield‘s study of video games, that suggested a video game need only be like knitting to be successful. Listed below are the 7 elements necessary for someone to find a video game really, really compelling according to Chatfield.

  1. Must be able to visualize progress
  2. Multiple long and short term aims
  3. Reward for effort
  4. Rapid, frequent, clear feedback
  5. Element of uncertainty (gauge anyone?).
  6. Able to do during windows of enhanced attention. (Whenever, wherever).
  7. Must have engagement with others on some level. (If you had doubts about this one: KALs, Ravelry)
Now doesn’t that sound uncannily like knitting?
Overall the talk was hilarious and outrageously funny. I highly recommend going to see her if you ever get the chance. I left the talk refreshed and feeling good about my knitting habit. It’s strengthening my brain you know!