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Shirley Shrugs

Shirley Shrugs

Mom really liked the Natalya gauntlets that I made for her January 2005 birthday, and wanted something to keep her shoulders warm -- especially while she read in bed at night. I presented a mind-boggling array of shrug and bed-jacket patterns to her along with an offer to knit and drove to Door County and back while she looked them all over and tried to decide. She almost ditched the warm shoulder idea altogether in favor of Kate Gilbert's Union Square Market Pullover on the cover of the Fall 2005 IK, but did eventually chose Shirley Paden's Cabled Shrug from the same issue.

Wanting to use stash yarn, and knowing that I had a couple of suitable yarns in colors she'd find pleasing, I then presented the yarn selection, from which she chose Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in a lovely sage green (as I pretty much knew she would).

I knew right off the bat that there were some things I wanted to change in the pattern; mainly, complete elimination of bobbles -- I don't like making them, didn't think they'd be comfy. For some reason, I did an internet search of "Shirley Paden" and one of the sites I happened upon was a blog wherein the author discussed how beautiful the shrug was, but remarked that if the model made one move, it would most certainly fall off her shoulders. Huh. Yeah. I could see that... bummer.

I had recently received Handknit Holidays in the mail and recalled seeing the Aran tree skirt, marveling at how a "straight" cable was bent and curved, at no expense to the overall pattern, to go around the base of a tree. I decided to employ a similar method to make "shoulders" along one edge of the shrug, to go around Mom's neck. I basically, eliminated an entire diamond repeat at each shoulder using short rows.

I employed my handy-dandy Excel program and a downloaded knitter's font, along with a "swatch" for gauge, measurements of Mom's arms, upper back and shoulders, and my replacement patterns for the cables and bobbles, to chart the entire shrug, wrist-to-wrist, which aided in determining placement of said short-rows. Execution was done totally on the fly -- I just couldn't think about it much -- it worked on paper, I'd make it work (somehow) with yarn.

I started to knit. My hands and wrists ached... oh, COTTON! I used to love knitting with cotton, but had gotten out of the habit (truth be told, I fell hard for the wool). Christmas was drawing nearer and nearer, and I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the shrug no matter what kind of plan I devised. I began to rather hate the shrug, too, especially the cotton aspect of it, and even cast on another using a more woolly yarn to see if I could sway her into something more olive-y (and less painful to knit). Nothing-doing. I scrambled to make Christmas bright, even if it was shrug-less.

Then it was time for the Knitting Olympics, then my brother had a terrible accident, then it was spring and then summer -- and who needs a shrug then? Finally fall was upon us again and Mom felt a chill across her shoulders...

"When is my shrug going to be finished?"

*Sigh.* I buckled down and got busy. Nearly one year after commencing, I was happy to put it 'round her shoulders on Sunday, October 29th. ; ) I will likely knit one of these for myself -- it really is wonderful to wear -- but with more woolly yarn and probably a few other pattern modifications. I will attempt to make available a more detailed explanation of all my modifications very soon.