Posted by: thewoobdog | July 31, 2012

Wingspan, Part 1

I officially cast on for Wingspan last night – trying a new cast-on (for me), since it’s what a lot of people seemed to use on this one (the cable cast-on, for anyone who cares).  It’s a much slower cast-on than my normal long-tail method, but hopefully everything will move along at a nice clip once I actually start knitting – a lot of people finished this project in less than a week, so I’m hoping I can do it in three.  Fingers crossed!

My mom randomly decided (after hearing that a local church does a ‘prayer shawl’ ministry) that she wanted a prayer shawl (this, of course, less than a week after my sweeping declaration here on the blog that I don’t knit shawls), so I immediately thought “birthday present!”  Her birthday is mid-August, which gave me about three and a half weeks to figure out what to knit and then git ‘er done.  Obviously it had to be a relatively simple project – now is not the time to decide to learn to knit lace! – so after browsing patterns for days on Ravelry I settled on Wingspan, a hugely popular pattern in the knitting world right now, thanks in large part to props from the Yarn Harlot.   I’ve done a lot of thinking about the symbolism behind this project, since it will be a prayer shawl, and I like the fact that the shawl itself is called ‘Wingspan’ – wings are mentioned throughout the Bible and have a great deal of symbolism attached to them.  The pattern has eight sections or segments, and the number eight is representative of new beginnings in the Bible – there were eight people on the ark (2 Pet 2:5), Jewish boys are circumcised on the eighth day, Jesus rose on the first day of the new week (ie, the eighth day), there are eight miracles of Elijah and eight resurrections recorded in the Bible, and God made eight covenants with Abraham (and yes, I did have to look up the significance of eight to make sure it was appropriate – I don’t carry an encyclopedia of biblical numerology around in my head).  

I’ve decided to do the project in Kauni Effektgarn EQ, which is a wool yarn (wool signifying the Great Shepherd) in a gradually-shaded rainbow colorway.  I wanted to do the shawl in a rainbow colorway because my mom loves rainbows – not kitschy rainbow souvenirs or rainbow-colored socks or anything trite, I mean real rainbows.  As long as I can remember, every time it rains and there’s any sun at all in the sky, she has always searched for a sign of a rainbow, and actually has been known to call my sisters and I on the phone to tell us when there’s a particularly clear or breathtaking one in the sky.  The rainbow has such spiritual significance, as well, that I thought it fit with the concept of the prayer shawl – the rainbow was the sign of remembrance both to God and to Noah of the everlasting covenant between the Lord and the earth.  The Jewish Talmud (Berakhat 59a) actually states that a special benediction should be recited when beholding a rainbow: the Prayer Book elaborates on this benediction and shows it as: ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who remembers the covenant, is faithful to His Covenant, and keeps His word.’

I would like to find a shawl-pin with some sort of symbolic meaning – I really like the Calla Lily that Lantern Moon has, because it’s made of horn and is a lily, both of which have their own symbolism attached (and yes, I know that the calla lily is not the specific lily referred to in scriptures, but I’m okay with that), but an olive wood or simple hammered silver shawl pin would work equally well.  Whatever I end up with, I plan to make a card detailing the various symbolism worked into the shawl and/or inherent in the pattern, so that my mom has a sense of where I was going with the whole thing.


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