Caution—Fable ahead

Caution—Fable ahead

Once upon a time, a starfish (shawl) was born in the mind of the amazing designer, Norah Gaughan. Nora studied Math, Biology and Art in university and designs unusual knitwear based on the mathematical laws of nature.  The starfish (shawl) was a unique piece of knitting—swirls of pattern and plain knitting converged from the circumference to the centre, with a pair of slashed slits for inserting the arms. It was a beautiful starfish (shawl) alright and when I turned the pages of Norah’s book to this design, it was love at first sight. I wanted to bring a starfish (shawl) into the world right away.


A quick perfunctory look at the instructions—long circular needle, lots of yarn, some markers—it seemed doable. I grabbed this DULL, sallow color (for the life of me I can’t recall why did I choose to spend good money on this color), cast on 730 (yes, 730) stitches and began knitting in the round. Of course, I had to twist those 730 stitches; of course I had to unravel the whole thing and RECAST 730 stitches; and of course, I dropped or picked up some stitches on the way.


I charged my way through 40 knitting days, marveling at the way the starfish emerged. The good thing about knitting from the periphery is that the stitches keep reducing, and one fine morning, there is no jostling and shoving going on in the entire round.  More wool was bought (stocks were available since no sane knitter would buy that boring shade), knitting continued and finally, the last stitch was cast off.

Ends neatly finished, shawl blocked and there was one more starfish (shawl) in the world!  Delighted and thrilled, I tried it on. Arms through the slits, hood arranged, pose struck in front of the mirror…and I looked like a homeless beggar going through a wardrobe crisis. On me, the starfish shawl looked nothing like it looked on that glamorous model. And the color!! It was a sea of mud—wet, slimy mud with patterns drawn on it.


Over the past 5 years, I have attempted to make the starfish (shawl) adorn my lovely daughters, admirable friends, skinny neighbors, rotund visitors and everyone else in between. The initial admiration would be silenced when the shawl was draped on their shoulders. It looked good on no one.  Today, while taking photographs for this post, I tried it on for the umpteenth time…and it still looked peculiar.

I have decided to unravel the entire starfish, combine some heartwarming earthy yarn and re-knit it into a throw which will be used and admired for ever.

I have no idea when the right day for unraveling will come. But, the right lessons have definitely come to rest in my knitty head.

  • Look, read and re-read a pattern before you begin the actual knitting. Check out comments and rating on www. and listen to the wisdom of the knitting universe.
  • Choose a color which beguiles flatters and complements the wearer. I still have to figure out who would look stunning in a sea of mud, but we will think about that later.
  • Imaginative, impractical and quirky knits have a propensity to enter the dark gloomy place of permanent storage. When one puts in so much of time and energy into a project, try and make it wearable, or worthy of display on a shelf.
  • Don’t let a knitting disaster keep you away from the joy of crafting, creating and producing amazing things…a potholder is an amazing thing too!
  • Stay calm and keep knitting.

And that is what I am doing. Presenting my new project—a well planned cardigan after choosing a bright yarn ( to honor the lovely colors of autumn), taking my measurements and highlighting the right size in the instruction pamphlet, calculating the changes I need to make and using markers at every juncture.



The starfish (shawl) is dead..long live knitting!!

  1. Mala – dye the starfish!! It’s such a pretty design… don’t unravel it. Dye it, dye it, don’t DIE it!! 🙂

    1. even if I dye it, it will still not perch itself properly on anyone’s shoulders!! and THAT, is an issue which can be only addressed with killing the starfish!! 🙁

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