Kusha Kusha Shawl

This may be the most beautiful thing I have ever knit.

I started this project in March of 2010, and it’s finally done.  I didn’t work on it for months at a time, but it’s been my go to travel project and with all the plane time I’ve spent this year, I think I got through it. This scarf has been with me to San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Vail, Colorado Springs-sometimes I feel like when you knit something that takes this long, some of that history is woven into it.

It’s knit with two yarns, a silk-wrapped stainless steel (yes, steel) and a fine wool in a subtly variegated purple, both are about as thin as your average sewing thread. The steel gives the finished piece a texture, and if you crumple it a bit it will stay that way. They’re both Habu yarns which are some of the most beautiful and unique yarns I’ve ever seen-last year I visited their New York store and it was stunning.

The scarf version of this is pretty, too, but I really wanted a wider shawl, which is why it took a bit longer. It’s so lightweight though that it’s easily wearable as a scarf, too.(Forgive the pictures-real knitting bloggers have photo shoots and photoshop to help them, whereas I have a 6 year old.)

The final instructions call for a light felting, but I’m too scared that it won’t look nice that way and I love it so much as it is I want to leave it.  So there, knitting instructions.

Next up is finishing a baby sweater (just needs buttons) and then onto another piece with more of the Habu yarn, this time with a black cotton/linen tape.

Genius, If I Do Say So Myself…

When I was a child, my family would travel to India frequently.  One of the things I remember from those trips is how small the garbage cans were.  The average kitchen garbage can was about the size of a small bathroom can here.  Compared to the U.S., where the average garbage can is the size of a small child, this was surprising.  At the time, there wasn’t the same disposable culture that we had in the U.S. and far less packaged goods.  The packaging we brought with us didn’t fit into the cans! (Of course, sanitation services were not the greatest, so the dumpster at the corner was always overflowing, but that’s another story.) You’d buy your vegetables from the walla who would roam the streets, pushing around eggplants, beans, tomatoes and the like on a flat wooden wheelbarrow.  As he walked along he would shout out the names of the vegetables on his cart and I remember my grandmother yelling out the balcony for him to stop so she could come down and haggle.

Milk arrived daily in thick plastic bags, fresh from a water buffalo.  These bags were not thrown out but carefully washed, dried, and saved.  The day or two before we would leave to come back to the States, my grandfather would fill these bags with chaklibakarwadi, and various pickles that my grandmother and aunts had prepared.  To seal them, he would fold them over, pass the folded edge quickly through a candle flame and press the melted plastic down to create a seal.  He’d repeat this and then you’d have an airtight package ready for travel.  I tried doing this a few times and burnt my fingers and overmelted, creating holes.

Cut to today, where I’ve started a new knitting project where I’m basically knitting with thread.  See?

I’m knitting with the center two yarns–the “normal” sized yarn and twist tie are there for comparison.

I’m at the part of the pattern where you knit with two of them held together, and they were forever getting twisted and tangled.  I thought about just putting them into a plastic bag but figured that they would still just get knotted up in the bag.  What I needed was something to keep them apart.  Then, I remembered my grandfather carefully melting plastic bags to seal them, and I thought I might be able to do that with a Ziploc bag to create a partition.  So I found a birthday candle, lit it on the counter, folded a bag in half, and gently passed it through the flame and squeezed the melted plastic.

It worked!! Now I can keep each cone of yarn separate but still work with them together.  This technique could work for other stuff, too, like if you wanted to divide a bag to take separate snacks, or storage–one side for nuts, one side for bolts.  Martha Stewart, are you listening?

The project itself is the Kusha Kusha shawl, and you knit it with one strand of the merino wool and one strand of the silk stainless–a fine stainless steel core wrapped in silk give the scarf a tactility and memory.  Here’s how it looks so far–see how it stands up by itself?

Since this project will take, oh, forever, I’m also working on a cute summer tank top made out of a thicker yarn, post to come later.