Princess Q-tip


I’ve read on the almighty internet that a 6 months wedding anniversary is called a Q-tips wedding since it’s a little cotton on it and a one year anniversary is a cotton wedding in Sweden. I kind of like it and have walked around talking about my Q-tip wedding anniversary all day. Can you imagine, six months ago we got married. I still haven’t fully understood it and I have to constantly remind myself. But then again, it wasn’t a big difference at all, which is how I prefered it.


I thought I would take the opportunity to finally show you my wedding veil, my master piece, mon chef d’oevre – the Princess Shawl.


I’ve never knit anything as huge ever, nor anything that took that much time nor that much yarn. We had a wedding quiz and the final question was how much yarn in meters was knit into this shawl. One person actually got pretty close but since he wrote his answer in a very scientist way none of us humanities majors understood how close he was (he involved pi. We don’t deal with pi very often, although we might care about pie which is a totally different matter. Also there is a novel by Yann Martel called The Life of Pi. That’s as close to pi I’ll ever come but if you want to discuss the novel you are welcome, that is more my strenght). And he didn’t do so well on the other questions though so it didn’t matter. (Agnieszka won, no surprises there, but then again, she has the advantage of having known me for 15 years which includes knowing my family and especially my mom for the same amount of time and has also known Julle for three years and understands our Polish as well as our Swedish sides. It would have been hard to beat her.)


According to my calculations (again, I don’t deal with pi and not really with maths so there might be some errors here but my calculations did involve scales and that has to count for something) there are 6 016 meters of yarn in this shawl. 6 kilometers, that’s about 3.7 miles. That is a fairly good run and about an hour walk. It’s shorter than a walk to Meryton and to Netherfield Park but one cannot have everything.


The shawl is knit in four steps. First you start with a 85 repeat lace border. It took me forever to get the hang of it, just as it took me forever to decide on yarn and I swatched and swatched and swatched before I decided that it’s better that I pick a yarn that is nice to work with over a yarn that may be soft but will be a challenge to force into a shawl. After all, I’ve worn the shawl for about three hours but it took me much, much longer to knit. Just one of those 85 repeats took me about 40 minutes. By picking this yarn the shawl also became much whiter than, say, the merino cobweb. Before the 85 repeats were done I ran out of yarn and had to order more. That wasn’t a very easy task, it turned out, but it worked out in the end, despite having to work with a cone nearby at all time.


When the lace border is done it is time to pick up stitches along that border. All 865 of them. It took forever. Or, about two days.


Then it is more than 240 rows of lace pattern. (There might be a mistake in there but I’m not telling you where.) That took time. A long time.


The shawl is supposed to be in garter stitch but since I’m not always thriller by the looks of garter stitch, I chose to knit it in stockinette stitch. That had the disadvantage of giving the shawl definite wrong and right sides but the advantage of, despite being a pain in the ass to knit, making it easier to know where I left off.


After the 200-something rows of lace, there is another 16 rows of another lace pattern. It was called pine tree lace or something like that. Felt suiting in this country which is practically covered in woods. This is when you think you’re almost done. You’re not.


Then it is time for the triangular lace that shapes the entire shawl. You measure out the middle of the knitting and start knitting back and forth. The rows starts short with just a few stitches but gradually grows as more and more stitches are worked into the lace.


It goes on till all stiches are worked into the triangular lace. It doesn’t look that much but when you reach the place where it’s time to start the triangular shape, you’re only half way. But eventually that too was done after a heroic knitting effort in which I knit more than 30 000 stitches per week for about two months.


When all the stitches are worked into the triangle you “close” the shawl with a similar lace border like the one you started with. Piece of cake, huh?


Blocking the whole thing was a little crazy in it’s own. It took our entire livingroom floor, five packs of blocking maths and five knitting friends to master it. It’s huge and we didn’t even block it that hard (due to lack of space) but one month before the wedding, it was done.


It’s about as long as me and much wider.


I had a hard time figuring some things out while knitting and I tried to get some help from other knitters who have done the same shawl by looking through their pictures but I couldn’t always find out what I was looking for.


There were some trial and error and I want to make sure my pictures can help someone else knit it.


For the wedding I wore a flower crown and we collected the top edge of the shawl in our hands and hung it over the back of the crown. I’m not sure how it looked but after all that work I was going to wear this as a veil, no matter what.


The hairdresser wanted the florist, who made the flower crown, take care of the veil, and the florist suggested the hairdresser attached it to my hair but I knew wearing a woollen veil on a summer day would have to be detachable. In the end my mum solved how we best should attach it and it worked out great. I wore it during picture time, during the ceremony, the bridal toast and while greeting all our guests but then, with the help of Agnieszka, my maid of honor, we took it off before the dinner. That would have been just too hot. It was a great day and it’s still great, six months, or a Q-tip, later and we hope it will continue for many, many more months to come.


Pattern: The Princess Shawl by Sharon Miller. Yarn: Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme 1 ply Gossamer 1/16nm, color is bleached.