This shawl is large, light and stretchy. It’s smooth and fluffy, textured and wavy, simple and complex. Boundary Bay has all the attributes I wanted in an oversized accessory. I designed it as a multi purpose piece - easy to wear as a scarf, a shawl or a wrap and light enough to wear in warm weather while still being cozy in the cold. I wanted a shawl that could stretch around my shoulders and stay put without fussing. And I wanted it to look fabulous every which way I chose to wear it. That’s a bit of a tall order for one accessory.
And then there was the actual knitting process of the piece to consider. The challenge was to knit a big fingering weight piece that I wouldn’t give up on! I wanted it to be interesting and fun. Happily mindful while not too tedious. The kind of project that felt good to sink into and enjoy because the direction, stitch pattern, fiber, and color changed once in a while.
Enter yarn selection. With so many beautiful fibers to choose from, what did I want? Combining the two bases of Studio Sock and Loft by Neighborhood Fiber Company fit the bill. Using both the smooth merino fingering and fluffy silk/mohair lace gave me the versatile base and luxury fibers I needed for a beautifully light, warm piece. With all the colors in their collection, there would be endless possibilities for beautiful combinations too. I chose to work the design with three colors, like a large canvas with different sections.
Now for content. I started with a name and place. Boundary Bay - a large body of water in the Pacific Northwest. It straddles the 49th parallel and includes long coastlines of both Washington and British Columbia. It’s rugged, dotted with islands and filled with sea life. It’s a bay with many beaches and the places of my childhood, where my family enjoyed picnics, wandering the water’s edge, and watching pods of Orca whale cruise by.
Thinking about water, wind and coastal geography made me consider my roots and the Dutch immigrants, my ancestors, who settled to farm on a Washington island in the early 1900s. They weren’t fisherman, but they came from a watery part of the world where the sea was the livelihood for many. There’s a rich knitting tradition in the Netherlands too. I drew inspiration from old photographs of the wool pullovers so prevalent in the fishing industry. The gansey motifs of knit and purl stitches were interpretations of the tools and environment of their work. So Boundary Bay became a shawl with sections of repetitive patterns like flags, waves, ridges of sand, and diamond shaped fishing nets.
Back to the process of knitting a big shawl. I chose to begin Boundary Bay with a long garter stitch panel and infrequent cables on the very edge. I made it a single color, but I held that lacy mohair Loft yarn along with the Sock in some sections to add texture and visual interest.
Then came a change in direction. Picking up stitches along the length of this panel gave me a dramatic bottom edge all completed and the potential for working pattern rows in a new way. I added two more colors and separated them into bands of texture. One of the colors was worked with Sock only as a flags pattern, and also as Sock held together with Loft in simple rows of garter fabric; two textures and two stitch patterns with a single color. I tried to balance the three colors and their sections in an attractive and cohesive way. I wanted the shawl to appear simple, modern and stylish as a whole and yet offer lots of interesting detail upon a closer look.
If something about this Boundary Bay design makes a connection with you, I encourage you to knit one of your own! Enjoy selecting colors and fibers that make you happy. Settle into the process of knitting the variety of stitch patterns in this project. Then wear your big luxurious wrap anywhere, anytime and anyway.
As with every Spout Knitting Design purchase, I’m available to advise and welcome your questions about selecting colors and any of the techniques in this project. Send me a line by email or Instagram message. Check out the Boundary Bay projects on the Ravelry pattern page and share your project there when you're finished!. Your Boundary Bay might just be the inspiration to begin that someone else is looking for.