Jun 19, 2018

Meet the Okeeffe Shawl

When I was a young girl growing up in Oklahoma, my parents loved to take me and my brother on road trips to New Mexico to visit Santa Fe or Taos. This was a marvelous contrast from my ordinary suburban life — seeing a different culture, pueblo pottery and Navajo rug weaving, and most importantly a glimpse of the New Mexico art scene. This is when I first became aware of Georia O'Keeffe, and first had an inkling that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up.

The Okeeffe Shawl from my new book, Homage, honors this amazing woman and her influence on my life. Georgia O'Keeffe (1897-1986) has been called the “Mother of American Modernism", and is famous for her paintings of enlarged flowers and New Mexico landscapes, and her radical feminist views (for the time). But to me, she was an inspiring pioneer, blazing a path for little girls with big dreams like me.

This project definitely took some twists and turns. I started out with a completely different design actually. It was still a shawl, but it featured some rather intense geometric lacework. I was having some trouble settling into the design, and put off starting it for an absurd period of time. I procrastinated to the point where I would have to push back my book's publish date if I waited any longer. Mainly, I was struggling to find the right yarn in the colors I wanted, and was resisting compromise.

Around that same time I had the pleasure of meeting Alice O'Reilly, the amazingly talented dyer of Backyard Fiberworks. I took a look at her yarn line, and discovered that it included some fabulous gradient kits and colors that I had not previously seen before. This sparked an idea for me—I asked Alice if she would be interested in collaborating on a palette for one of her kits that I could use for my new shawl design. We began texting back and forth, and in no time I had this beautiful yarn in my hands.

The design changed quite a bit in the process, and in the end it reminded me of the rolling hills in an O'Keeffe painting. Alice suggested that we expand the concept into a limited edition line of O'Keeffe inspired yarn kits for the book launch party.

The palette for the sample pictured is called Pedernal after Gorgia O'Keeffe's painting by the same name.

This shawl was so much fun to knit! There is something about it that just begs you to keep going. I could hardly believe how fast I got to the end. I used a special technique called the Icelandic Bind-Off, which makes a beautiful, super-stretchy edge for garter stitch. It's pretty easy to do (instructions), but I made a video to fully demonstrate the technique, and linked to it in the pattern pdf.

The pattern is part of my book, Homage (Knit Darling Book 2), but I'm also selling it individually here on my website and on Ravelry for $6.00. It's finally perfect shawl knitting weather, so I hope you'll pick up a copy!


  • Rebecca Pfeiffer
    almost 6 years ago

    I love those gradient kits and this pattern! Are the gradient kits still available to purchase from Backyard fiberworks?

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