One of my most regrettable traits is that I am a terrible gift giver. I am a sharp contrast to my husband who is incredible at selecting gifts. He’s one of those people who knows exactly what you would use and love before you do and he orchestrates gift timetables to perfection. While I’ve picked up a few tricks throughout the years – like bookmarking gift ideas as people mention them during the year enabling me to pull those options up when the critical time approaches – I have to say I’m still not great at it. Birthdays always sneak up on me and I find myself forking out the extra $15 for express shipping more often than not. It’s so embarrassing.
Now hand-in-hand with my lack of foresight and planning for gifts, I am pretty bad at remembering actual birth dates and then placing them in — you know — the timeline of reality. I used to be amazing at this — there was a time when I organized birthday and anniversary gifts for everyone in my husband’s and my family, but as we all got older and had kids and life became more chaotic, I started settling for being happy I didn’t miss my own kids’ birthdays.
I have some pretty amazing friends though and there are a couple out there that unfailingly remember all the birthdays in my house and somehow manage to give the most thoughtful gifts. It’s so humbling and so touching because I know just how hard this can be. One such friend, Jennifer, in addition to her constant thoughtfulness is just in general an awesome human being. We met through knitting, but she actually works at our beloved Horicon Marsh caring for and educating others about this natural wonder. There are so many things I admire about this woman that I seriously don’t know where to begin. She is the sweetest & toughest lady I know. She is a goof and a total bad-ass. Our whole family just adores her.
With this in mind, it was important to me that I find a suitably spectacular birthday gift. As I picked up a skein of yarn & some coffee for her in Door County over the summer as a thank you for some garden planning help, it crossed my mind that I really should knit something for her for her birthday. As knitters we all love yarn and always appreciate a beautiful skein, but this woman works so hard and is always on the go with her family that I thought as much as she loves to knit, she might just like to be spoiled with a hand knit that is ready to wear. Her birthday is in October, but breaking my habit of poor planning I started looking for just that perfect pattern and yarn. In August.
While lurking on the Northbound Knitting site, I happened up this photo…
It was a little more modern than I was looking for, but this was the big, cozy feel was exactly ‘it’.
I continued on through the other photos…
And the idea really started to take shape…
Clinquant was so versatile.
Yes, Clinquant was ‘it’. I love that it is a big and squishy shawl, but can still be worn as a big scarf or like a triangular shawl.
Having settled on the pattern, I started looking into yarn. Rather than roll the dice on the results, I started looking at the colorways and bases offered by Lisa Mutch of Northbound Knitting — the fab designer who also happens to be an equally talented indie dyer. I have to say that the brand new website Lisa recently launched makes browsing her colorways & bases really simple — shopping is easy, too, when she has updates (maybe a little too easy for this lady!). Anyways, I knew I wanted to stick with the luxurious Merino/Silk DK base used in the sample, but I needed a more earthy colorway. I saw ‘Driftwood’…
And I knew I had found the ‘it’ colorway for this project. It is a perfect blend of rich brown and steely grey. Since this was not in the shop at the time, I emailed Lisa about a custom order and she responded promptly with a time frame for when I could expect the yarn to be ready to ship. I have to say, it was so easy to place a custom order with her and the turnaround time was much quicker than I expected. I had my yarn by the end of August.
My skeins sat for a couple of weeks while I wrapped up other projects and when I cast-on I realized that I had a little under two weeks to get the project done, including blocking & drying time. It was plenty of time, but a shame to rush a project with such lovely yarn.I enjoy all my knitting, but this project was definitely special — partly because the yarn was just so incredibly luxurious and partly because, you know, it’s different when you are knitting for someone else, someone really important to you & your family.
It wasn’t without a stumble — you can read all about my minor/major whoopsie in pattern reading here — but the finished project did not suffer.
I pulled out one of my jasmine scented Eucalan samples for wet blocking and went about the business of attempting to block this large shawl. It was not the simplest task as I had no where near a large enough space and it was a particularly cloudy & rainy stretch of time, but I did what I could and was greatly aided by a fantastic new set of tools…
My Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers. Suffice to say they are AMAZING and have forever revolutionized blocking for me (I’ll give you a more complete review of them in the coming weeks) and they greatly helped me speed up the blocking of this shawl to work within my small window of sunshine.
I can only hope that it lives up to the how awesome the recipient is. I can easily admit that I am a little jealous — in my opinion, it’s really a luxurious, beautiful shawl. And I won’t lie, I visit the Northbound Knitting website every couple days to stare at the Chanterelle colorway…
And I daydream about a Clinquant of my own knit in it. For now though, I’m so very happy to have given this gift. My hope is simple: that Jennifer likes it. I’m not sure that it’s the perfect gift — I never am with giving, but I’m hopeful that it is used and loved and a small token to show how much my family & I appreciate our remarkable friend.
I encourage you to follow Northbound Knitting & the beautiful design work & hand-dyeing of Lisa Mutch on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join the Northbound Knitting Group and check out the library of designs on Ravelry, and definitely take some time to browse her new website!
Many thanks to Lisa Mutch of Northbound Knitting for permission to use her photos.
For more information on my Clinquant, please feel free to check my Ravelry project page here.