The Story of Catkin

As I mentioned in my post Monday, I finished my Catkin shawl on Sunday! I’m so happy to have gotten this project off the needles, which was the oldest of my long term UFOs.

  • Pattern: Catkin by Carina Spencer
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Zarzamora (varigated); Yarns to Inspire Wonder in Fiddle De De (purple)
  • Timeline: Cast on 7/31/16; Cast off 2/28/21

I received this pattern as a gift for completing my first ever test knit in 2016, and cast it on basically right away in July of 2016. The yarn and buttons were purchased from my LYS, and the purple is actually dyed by one of the people who owns the shop, so it’s partially a local product too. I brought it with me while going on a short vacation to visit friends in the DC/ Virginia area, and I think I got through most of the beginning stockinette/ garter section. I’m not really sure what kept me from continuing on after that point. In looking back over old photos, it looks like maybe travil-abiltiy (I went to Spain in the fall of 2016), knitalongs I wanted to do, and just generally it falling further down and down my priority list as other projects came up that struck my fancy. I also think I may have been a bit intimidated by this pattern. The second and third sections are fully charted, and up until that point I hadn’t really done anything with that large of charts, and definitely hadn’t done any slip stitch, and only one cabled pattern.

So then, in February 2019 I decided I was going to work on this a little bit more. In looking back over my Ravelry projects, it actually looks like I might have been in a knitting funk around that time. I didn’t finish any projects between January and April, and looks like a cast on a new thing in the middle of February, so I think I might have been trying to work down some older term projects? Now, this was before I really started tracking row by row completion of my projects, but I know I worked on Catkin at this time because I can date what happened next to a certain event that I took a photo of. I decided I was going to take this project with me to a church event. It was a joint worship services of other churches in my city, and I had to be there early to sing in the choir. I figured I’d have some time to knit between rehearsal and the service, and I also think I was considering driving up to Boston for a fiber festival that day (?) so wanted to bring knitting with me. So, in the haste of getting out the door, I filled up my water bottle for a few hours of singing and tossed it in my bag. Well, the cap wasn’t closed, and in the 10 minute drive to church the bag tipped over on the drivers seat and everything got wet. I mean SOAKED. Thankfully I think I was a row or so away from being done with color A (the variegated), so I was able to cut it, but I actually had to rewind the rest of the skein onto my swift to dry, I could literally wring water out of it. Of course, the pattern got soaked and all the ink ran. Some actually dyed the end of the color B! It was a whole mess.

What the pattern looked like after… for some reason I didn’t reprint it, it was still readable!

As you might imagine, that kind of turned me off to the whole idea of this project. Throughout the next two years I just prioritized other projects. I had worked a little bit on it, but the middle section of textured stitches is definitely a bit tedious. It’s basically ribbing but you also need to pay enough attention that it wasn’t necessarily a relaxing knit. I worked a few rows on it here and there, but I still felt like I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to it.

And then last week I had those few days off and nothing really much to work on. Like I said, I’m starting a big test this month, so I didn’t want to cast on something new that would get worked on. I think I was closer to the end of this one than the Great Western Way, and it was the oldest, so I just sat down and plowed through it! The second section section does take some time, but then I absolutely zoomed through the third chart. I absolutely love the slip stitch/ cable combo. It’s such a cool effect!

I also had to sew on many buttons, a task which I don’t necessarily love. I did use these new sewing clips I bought to try and mark the place the buttons went in comparison to the buttonholes, but they are a little off still. I used this tutorial from Purl Soho which did help with the process a little bit. I do find finishing work like this pretty tedious, but it’s definitely worth it because the buttons do really add a lot to this piece.

This shawl is really nice because of the many different ways you can wear it. I’ve been playing around the past few days, and I think my preferred method is to wrap it around with the middle point in front, like I usually wear shawls, but then button the ends underneath the middle so you don’t have to worry about it falling off. But it’s also nice to wear as a cape, the buttons really make it easy to wear without much fussage.

So, that’s the story of Catkin! It definitely has more of a backstory than a lot of the things I make. But that’s actually really cool, and one of the reasons I wanted to start this blog. I want to be able to remember the things I did while working on these projects. The whole pandemic thing has definitely affected that, not a lot of projects I made in the past year have too much of a backstory – yup, I worked on this while sitting at home again! It was nice to remember taking this project some other places, and I’m really hopeful that I’ll be able to do that again soon!


  1. That’s a very pretty shawl and you look lovely in it. You must be so pleased to have it off the needles and with all the great stories attached to it, you’ll remember making it for years to come.

  2. Wow, that was really quite the journey (I can totally understand that you put it aside after the water desaster …) AND the buttons!! I always stall on sewing on buttons, too, it’s such a drag …. I’m gonna check out your Purl Soho link, thank you for that!

    The shawl looks gorgeous. Congratulations on another free pair of needles and the sweet sense of accomplishment! 🙂

  3. What a journey with your shawl! I’m so sorry about the water – I can totally see why that would have turned you off of the whole thing. Nevertheless, you persisted! I really, really love the design and am so interested by the buttons. How clever to be able to button the short ends together while you’re wearing it.

    Enjoy your lovely new shawl – you definitely earned this one!! 🙂

  4. I really enjoyed reading about your journey with this shawl. I hope you are enjoying wearing it! Now I’m inspired to pick up an old WIP.

  5. “yup, I worked on this while sitting at home again” — that is the story of the past year in a nutshell, isn’t it? Sheesh. Then again, maybe someday that will be its own story, how we were in lockdown and knitting kept us sane and look at how darned productive we were!

    Catkin looks great! Though after the water bottle disaster, I don’t blame you at all for putting it aside for a little while. That would have been really frustrating.

  6. Wow, that’s an impressive shawl! It looks so cool and I would definitely be intimidated by it. The buttons are definitely the coolest bit. Well done on persevering and getting it done!

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