Mother’s Day Longbourn Shawl

This might be my first post about a knitting project — about time! My sewing has taken a backseat — really since last year — both to knitting projects, and to a big *secret* project I’ve been working on. More about that later…

I’ve recently completed one of my big knitting projects: the Longbourn Shawl — inspired by the novel, Pride and Prejudice — from designer Kay Jones. I made this as a gift, and the recipient has received it, so I can now spill all the details!

Longbourn shawl in window

The seeds of this project started in December 2020, when The Bakery Bears held an advent knit-along for their Patreon patrons. I had a blast completing a section of a cowl pattern that was released every other day in December leading up to Christmas.

Near the end of the knit-along, Kay said she was going to do another “mini advent” in February, to combat the after-Christmas lull. She called it Valenvent, because it would commence February 1 and end on Valentine’s Day.  As promised, she released a section of a sampler sock pattern every day from 2/1 to 2/14 and I knit it up faithfully.

So Valenvent ended on Feb. 14, and I HAD TO cast something on Feb. 15. I wanted to keep up this momentum of knitting at least every other day that I had developed since December 1. I picked Kay’s Longbourn Shawl pattern and set a schedule. I counted all the rows and repeats required and figured out how many I would need to knit — on every odd day of the month — to finish by a self-imposed May 1 deadline (in time to gift for Mother’s Day). Then I cast on!

Super-nerd alert: I store all my patterns (for knitting and sewing) in Dropbox. When I’m ready to make it, I export the pattern into an app called UPAD. Then I can mark it up on my iPad with a little bluetooth pen. I noted my schedule right in the pattern and drew a box for tick marks when each repeat was done.

The above was for the shawl body. I had a second tick box for the shawl border. This method was incredibly motivating — because I love making tick marks. I often did my repeats first thing in the morning so I could tick that box!

Another motivator for this project was the yarn. I had acquired some beautiful yarn from Wing and a Prayer farm. (I’m also a Patreon patron of their charming farm in Vermont.) This was a purple and white rustic yarn from their own sheep. Kay, the designer, had said the body of the shawl reflects Elizabeth Bennett (Longbourn is the name of her home), and the border of the shawl is Mr. Darcy. Well, Elizabeth Bennett would go crazy for the Wing and a Prayer farm so I had to use their yarn.

I kept the project in a drawstring bag the farm had sent me with an order. I also attached a pin of my favorite sheep on the farm, Jubilee.  Super sheep nerd alert: In March, I attended a Zoom birthday party for Jubilee!

The more difficult part was selecting the yarn for the border. I had plenty of time to stew over it, as it would take until April to get to the border. When I finished the body, I cast on one yarn, ripped it out, then another, didn’t like it. I googled “Mr. Darcy yarn” and amazingly, a yarn called Mr. Darcy came up! It was actually a yarn base, with merino wool, yak and silk. That couldn’t be more perfect for Mr. Darcy! He’s stubborn like a yak, haughty like silk, but in the end, warm like wool. I picked a steely blue-green that matched one of his jackets.

The pattern called for little X’s in the shawl body, but I had made a mistake early on with my right-cross left-cross and knitted little O’s. I rolled with it and made alternating rows of X’s and O’s, for hugs and kisses.

It was a wonderfully fun knit, and I did end up finishing by May 1st. I got pretty nervous as I was nearing the end and thought of starting another one. But there are new patterns to explore! Elizabeth would march on! -rp