Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Friday, 5 October 2012

Somewhere Over A Rainbow: A Shawl For SOAR

For the past thirty years, Interweave Press  has been running SOAR, a conference devoted to spinners from around the world.  SOAR prides itself on its excellent teachers, great workshops and retreat sessions, all set in wonderful surroundings.  I've always wanted to attend, but time, circumstance and, yes, cost haven't allowed me to go.

Until this year.  Earlier this year, I was awarded a SOAR scholarship, which assists with workshop fees, accommodation and meals at the conference.  Thanks to the SOAR Scholarship Committee, Susan Z., Coleen N. and Otto P., the director of Olds College Fibre Week, I'll be heading to California near the end of October for eight days of fibre fun and frolic.  Coleen is going with me, so I'm doubly fortunate.  I feel as though I've won the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

In honour of this once in a lifetime experience, I wanted to make something special to wear at the conference.  I understand that it's traditional to show off one's fibre work at SOAR and, really, what better place to wear hand made items than in a venue devoted to fibre? With a few years of spinning behind me, I've accumulated everything from the elegant (quit laughing, people!) to the downright quirky (that's more like it, you say). Some of these things will be going with me, but what could I make just for the occasion?

While I was poking about in the Vendors' Mall at Fibre Week, I ran across a hand painted Easy to Spin cotton sliver at Celeigh Wool.  Perfect.  The colours were rainbow bright.  I love spinning cotton and, since I have to bring supplies, including a spinning wheel, to SOAR, I have to pack thoughtfully.  I bought a 100 gram bag and spent part of the summer spinning and plying the fibre on my Louet Victoria.

Since colour was the yarn's best feature, I decided to knit something simple (surprise!).  My Prairie Sunset shawl pattern uses garter stitch, simple lace and a lace cast off border. Using this yarn, the stripes in the shawl body would narrow and become more subtle as the shawl grew, while the short, sideways border would run like a rainbow around the shawl.

I finished the shawl this week, just as I began sorting and packing for my adventure.  Here she is:  (Please excuse the poor lighting-it's just above freezing here today, too cold to work outside.)

The shawl is light, knitted on 1.5 mm needles.  Measuring 23 inches deep and 44 inches across, she weighs 70 grams.  (I was afraid I wouldn't have enough to add to the more than 350 body stitches, do another repeat of body lace and add more border repeats to accommodate the body stitches, so I quit while I was ahead.  I would have cried if I'd had to frog back the shawl and reknit the border.)  Its bright colours and simple structure make me happy.  Wearing it will remind me of my good fortune in being awarded the SOAR scholarship, the wonderful friends who helped me, and the joy I receive from fibre.

Now, where are my Ruby Slippers?

Update on October 10, 2012:  For those who care about such things, I used the iSpinKit on my iPod to measure the following:

  • tpi for 2 ply: 19
  • wpi approximately +54
  • angle of twist 28 degrees
  • 5400 metres/kilo; 2452 metres/pound 


  1. I love your shawl and know that you are a very worthy recipient of the SOAR scholarship! Congrats and have a great time there!

    1. Thanks so much. I appreciate all the help you gave me and I'm happy to be your personal shopper while I'm there!