The journey from roving to yarn to shawl

Pie Are Square Shawl

You know what happens when you go looking back through the old blog posts you have written? You realize it took you 18 months to get from raw roving to a finished shawl. I could have given birth twice in the time it took me to finish this project! Of course I started it up with no plan, no goal and no conditions. Still, 18 months seems like a long time.

Of course I worked on a zillion other things along the way. I’ve never been able to dedicate myself to just one project. Perhaps that says something about my moral character. Or maybe it just says that I’m easily distracted. Either way I took a look back through my old posts and realized I started spinning the yarn for my Pie Are Square shawl during Spinzilla 2014. And I’ll have you know that you readers were responsible for that.

I asked for help deciding what to spin next.

Ya’ll liked the maroon roving on the right best so that is what I put through the wheel. It was 67% alpaca and 33% corriedale wool and very easy to spin.

Apparently in between Day 5 and Day 6 of Spinzilla I went to bed and woke up with the brilliant idea to pair that maroon roving up with some 100% alpaca in natural brown. (I have no memory of that. Its amazing what you can learn about yourself when you go reading through your own old blog posts.)

I had a pound of the maroon roving and a pound of the brown roving and that seemed to tell me that my plan was destined for success. By Day 7, the final day of Spinzilla, I had finished one skein.

I even gave this homespun a name: Cherries and Chocolate. (I have no memory of that either.) And according to my old posts I was all set to keep going and get my two pounds spun up and plied. But then those dastardly people at Louet sent me a box a free roving to try out and talk about on my blog. I got completely distracted by the new stuff and my Cherries and Chocolate spinning sputtered to a halt. The lone skein sat around in a basket and the roving was shoved into a dark corner of my closet. So sad.

But I did get back to it! By February of 2015 I was hard at work at my wheel. A certain Anti-Spinning Feline Overlord was hard at work too.

Now that I remember. She always did like alpaca.

In spite of her evil, interfering ways I eventually had all two pounds spun. Yay me.

That’s 1500 yards of (hang on…. lemme work out the math) 83% alpaca, 17% corriedale handspun right there. I do remember being kind of proud of all that spinning. So proud I stuck it all in the handspun-yarn-drawer. There is sat for nearly a year while I carefully considered what to make with it floated from one project to another like goldfish with a goldfish-level attention span. Every now and then I’d go into my handspun-yarn-drawer for something and think “Oh yeah, that mostly alpaca yarn. I remember that. Boy I sure have a lot of it”. Then I’d go do something else.

But… then my mom mentioned she really liked the Pie Are Square shawl. She said it looked nice and warm and was just the kind of thing she could wear to church. So of course I had to make her one! If a knitter is going to take on a project for someone else it doesn’t get any better than a shawl for mommy to wear to Sunday service, right? Right.

I was in the middle of deciding what yarn to buy for a Pie Are Square when I remembered my two pounds and mostly-alpca handspun. (I’d forgotten I’d given it a name. I’m telling you, I have that goldfish attention span.) The Pie Are Square shawl is perfect for handspun because its a pattern that you work until you feel it is big enough. What I mean is, it can be made in any weight with any amount of yarn. The knitter doesn’t have to worry about running short and that’s what I look for in a project that uses handspun. This was the project my mostly-alpca handspun had been waiting for.

Here is how it looked early on:

Then 147 years 2 months later it looked like this:

As I was knitting this up, I re-read the book that the pattern is published in, Knitting Around. Its not a typical knitting pattern book. None of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s books are. Knitting Around a collection of some of the author’s favorite designs, with lots of advice on how to modify and personalize her patterns to suit yourself. And along the way she tells you about her life as an English girl who fell in love with a German boy, escaped a pre-WWII Europe, arrived in the States dead broke, and came to live in an old one room school-house.

When I had the body of the shawl big enough, I found myself with a skein and half of yarn left. So I picked an ambitious lace knitted-on edge and got to work. Here is how that looked:

By Mother’s Day… it was not done. Yeah, I was kind of disappointed in myself. But my knitting never conforms to a schedule. So this a two weeks after Mother’s Day present. Because its done.


That’s 18 months of on-again, off-again work. That’s what it took for me to get from fiber to yarn to shawl. I’d say that for my next big project I’ll be more focused but that would be a lie. I’ll never be a one-project-crafter. I’m easily distracted and I kind of like it that way.

P.S. Reading your own old blog posts is a eye-opening experience and not for the feint of heart. If you ever find yourself doing that, try to be prepared for all the outrageous things you wrote and made public for the entire freaking world to read.

P.S.S. Her Feline Overlord-ness enjoyed this project every step of the way and has generously added some of her own fur to the warmth of this shawl.




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35 Comments on "The journey from roving to yarn to shawl"

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I am so very impressed! This is not only a work of art, it is a true hand made delight! A gift your mother will treasure forever. No wonder you look so happy! It is finished and you put so much of yourself into it. No wonder you look ready to do The Happy Dance! Words fail to capture my envy of both your skill and your selfless effort.

It’s a great looking mega shawl Jenn! I remember you spinning Cherries and Chocolate since I was on the same team. 😉 Hope you’ll join in again this year. I love that all y’all let a rogue spinner from Houston be part of the Austin team. LOL I really get a good belly laugh when I see project pics of herself the Feline Overlord-ness so intimately involved in her/your knitting. Cat butts indeed. LMAO. I always have a spinning helper but he’s not nearly as involved as your lady butt. Mufassa is out from dusk till dawn on neighborhood patrol… Read more »

The “entire freaking world” has derived great pleasure from reading your posts — and we love your quirkiness, perhaps because it so accurately mimics our own. We are all in the right company! 😘


It turned out beautiful!!!! I wish I had the knitting skills you do!!!! I look so forward to each and every one of your posts! Thank you for being you!!!

Oh my goodness !! I had not realized that you started that project with roving, and worked it all the way through!!! Wow, what a lovely gift for your Mom. I have a little idea, that you may or may not use. Because it is such a beautiful, and complete project, I really think it should be labeled with your name, and the year(s) that you worked it, for posterity’s sake. You could make a small knitted square, and add it as a tiny pocket, and have the information sewn in there, so a hundred years from now, whom ever… Read more »