Posted by: christinelaennec | June 4, 2015

Twa shawls

(My silly post title is a nod to the Scottish children’s song, “Twa craws, sittin’ on a wa’… ” [Two crows sitting on a wall]…)  This spring, I made two shawls.  One of them is yet another Holden Shawlette (I’ve made this pattern twice before, for gifts).  I made it from the beautiful Skein Queen rainbow yarn that generous Roobeedoo gave me for Christmas.  You might have glimpsed me knitting it at the lighthouse on Scalpay.  Here it is finished (full Ravelry details here):

Rainbow shawl:  Holden Shawlette pattern by Mindy Wilkes, from Skein Queen Lustrous yarn (wool and silk).

Rainbow shawl: Holden Shawlette pattern by Mindy Wilkes, from Skein Queen Lustrous yarn (wool and silk).

Rainbow shawl.

Rainbow shawl.

The other shawl I made this spring was in remembrance of my father.  When I was in Portland on that sad trip home after he died in November, towards the end of my stay I had a few hours in town.  Surprise, surprise, I ended up at a yarn shop, Knit Purl.  There I found some very interesting locally spun and dyed yarn:

Alpha B yarn, Single B

Alpha B yarn, Single B

I liked the kinkiness of the yarn, and the beautiful colours.  But I was particularly drawn to the names of the colours.  The green is “Columbia Gorge” and the blue is “Mighty Columbia”.  Now, the Columbia River was an important part of my childhood.  Partly because we used to sing Woody Guthrie’s “Roll on Columbia, Roll On” in school, and I loved the idea of the powerful river “turning darkness to dawn” (via the hydroelectric dams on the river).  The river itself was a part of my childhood because my Dad loved the Columbia.  He loved boats and the sea and rivers, and the Columbia River is indeed mighty where it opens into the Pacific Ocean just northwest of Portland.

Our family often went to the waterfalls along the Columbia Gorge.  (Gracie’s posts here and here have lovely photos of the area.)  I remember once being at Multnomah Falls at the same time as Ladybird Johnson was visiting, and my mother explaining to me that people were booing her because of the Vietnam War.  I hated the war, which dominated all our family dinnertimes and distressed me, but I also felt sorry for this small lady in a blue suit and matching pillbox hat.

We would hike up around the different waterfalls, or go to Crown Point to see the stunning views along the Gorge, or sometimes we would just “scrounge” along the beaches of the river, poking through driftwood for treasures such as the rare Japanese glass fishing float.  For a couple of years, my father had a small aluminium rowboat, and we all had a few hair-raising afternoons on the Columbia in that tiny boat, caught in the wakes of the huge container vessels headed out to sea!  I can’t say I was heartbroken when someone stole it from our carport.

So I bought the wool, and brought it home and thought about what to make out of it.  And the Cladonia Shawl by Kristen Kapur came to mind:

Cladonia shawl by Kirsten Kapur, knit from Alpha B Single B yarn.

Cladonia shawl by Kirsten Kapur, knit from Alpha B Single B yarn.

It’s a great project if you have two colours you want to combine.  And it’s the perfect size for these chilly days, either to wear around the house or to tuck in under your coat or jacket:

"The River's Wild Flight," shawl in memory of my Dad and celebrating the Columbia River.

“The River’s Wild Flight,” shawl in memory of my Dad and celebrating the Columbia River.  (Not my favourite photo of myself – I look very haughty!  I was absolutely exhausted that day.)

I thought for a long time about what name to give it, and decided on a phrase from one of the last verses of Woody Guthrie’s ballad:

“These mighty men labored by day and by night / Matching their strength ‘gainst the river’s wild flight / Through rapids and falls they won the hard fight / Roll on, Columbia, roll on.”

When I arrived in Portland, I was relieved and delighted to learn that my Dad arranged to have his ashes scattered at sea.  That wouldn’t have occurred to me, and I feel the sea is the perfect resting place for him.  “The River’s Wild Flight” to me symbolises the idea that his spirit is free and reunited with that aspect of nature he loved so much, flowing water.



  1. Your shawls are very beautiful and the thoughts behind it.

  2. I absolutely love both of these! Now that I’m back living in chillier climes I have been wearing scarves everyday and thinking about resurrecting my shawl wearing. I’ve only ever crocheted shawls before so this would be a new venture completely. I’m totally inspired to make a knitted shawl my next project- thank you😀 and what lovely memories you have ‘woven’ into yours 🌼

  3. Two beautiful shawls, a generous gift of yarn for the first and all the special memories for the second, stunning.

  4. You are a gifted artist, Christine. Both shawls are breathtakingly gorgeous. I especially admire the one in honor of your dad; I love that you infused it with a depth of meaning to celebrate his life.

  5. The shawls are both lovely and the colors, so talented. Naming things along with connections is I think so very important, it’s like attaching the cobweb to the post.

  6. Both are beautifully done, Christine! Beautiful thoughts of your Dad, and a sweet gift from a friend ~ just lovely. ♥

  7. Stunning. And like you, I love to make things with meaning and memory attached to them. Xx

  8. What a lovely idea, knitting that shawl in memory of your dad. Both shawls are beautiful, but I especially love the colours of the second one. The workmanship looks exquisite.

  9. Your shawls are so beautiful. I am so sorry to hear of your loss but your post is such a beautifully written tribute.

  10. Your childhood memories are mine! I grew up in Camas, WA. Sunday drives were up the gorge, waterfalls and Crown Point. We spent vacations at Cape Lookout(Tillamook) or Fort Stevens(Astoria). Perhaps unknowingly we crossed paths. :))

  11. Both the shawls are beautiful – your knitting really is exquisite.

  12. This brings back memories of a wonderful couple of days we spent two years ago in Astoria. I was really thrilled by the Columbia River and its history.

  13. Beautiful shawl and beautiful tribute to your dad. You look lovely and you do not look haughty.

  14. So pretty. Glad you left a link to the pattern. I so need to make one of those. And you do not look haughty! And your stories are touching. Enjoy!

  15. Each one commenting above me has done good job typing what I want to type to you as well, Christine 🙂

    I just got back this afternoon from camping in the Mt. Hood National Forrest with some of my adult children. I think the six nights there were my all time favorite camping experience. I have not looked at my photos yet but hope to post some soon. Thanks for sharing some of my other photos by linking to some of my past posts. I am glad to share with folks who are interested!

    You truly are gifted in your artistic pursuits…the shawls are magnificent. Thanks especially for sharing the story of “The River’s Wild Flight”. You have created a priceless treasure. xx

  16. Hi Christine. I wanted to write earlier but time got away from me! I love the shawls you created. They are truly stunning. And, the story behind the River’s Wild Flight is so heartwarming. I had for forgotten about that song, Roll on Columbia; I too used to sing it in school. The Columbia River plays a major role in both our states (Washington/Oregon). Your post brought back fond memories. My best to you.

  17. I can’t tell you how much I like this. I know those areas on the Columbia that you mention, and I’m hoping to get back there this summer (specifically, to Breitenbush, but I take that highway along the river before going south). It makes me think I should make something to honor my own parents, who had a summer cabin for many years right near the hot springs, and which has always been a special place to me since my childhood. Well, I’m rambling, but I like what you did very much and it inspires me, thank you!

  18. Thank you everyone for your very generous comments. The real creativity comes from the designers, who make a pattern that the rest of us can interpret. But I’m glad if the project of choosing, naming and making is inspiring to some. Naming is very powerful, and we probably all have so many more possibilities in terms of creating beauty and connections than we imagine.

  19. J’aime beaucoup votre châle et l’histoire sur laquelle il s’appuie. Mes travaux préférés son toujours ceux auxquels je peux donner un sens et je trouve que les porter c’est comme être accompagnée par une douce présence. Très bonne semaine Christine et excusez-moi de ne pas écrire en anglais, que je ne maîtrise pas assez pour dire des choses autres que pratiques.

    • Merci beaucoup, chère Annie. Ca me fait plaisir de vous lire en français. C’est exactement comme vous dites, on se sent “accompagnée par une douce présence”. Très bonne semaine à vous aussi.

  20. Oh I love the shawl you made in remembrance of your dad! The colors are just gorgeous and how special that they symbolize so much. I love how the lace worked out at the end. Definitely a pattern I would enjoy I think. I need to get back to some knitting sometime. I’ve been doing a lot of crochet tea cozies and sewing.

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