The Other Caroline: Kicking it at Rideau Hall

Recently I was offered the incredible opportunity of attending the Investiture for the Order of Canada at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. For our American friends that may not know what that is, the Order of Canada is the Canadian Honours system that recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

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Abraham Anghik Ruben with one of his sculptures

I am very proud that my Stepdad Abraham Anghik Ruben has received this honour, he is an Inuit Artist and has spent a lifetime preserving and educating about his culture through art. He is the first Inuit person to have a solo show at the Smithsonian Institute Museum of the American Indian.

My Mom at the last minute was unable to go, so Abraham invited me to attend. With less than a week to go, I had to come up with both business attire for the Investiture Ceremony, and Black Tie for the Reception. I’m very casual in my “fashion” so this was a huge difficulty for me. I definitely did not have appropriate clothing for either event in my wardrobe. The business attire was fairly easy, but formal wear not so much. I eventually settled on something fairly simple but spice it up with a whole bunch of sparkly jewelery and a fancy shawl.

What shawl to choose? I had a skein of our Ancient Arts Yarn Indulgence (65% Linen 35% Silk Heavy Lace) in the Pieces of Eight colourway that I had been agonizing over finding the perfect pattern for. I was also lucky to have in my possession Sylvia McFadden’s book Shawl Joy. I absolutely adore Sylvia’s patterns and constantly oggled and pined over them, but somehow had never knit one! I chose the Waiting For Rain pattern, ’cause it’s just so darn pretty.

The pattern called for 800 yds of fingering yarn and a 4mm/US6 needle. Indulgence is 765 yds, so to compensate for the lesser yardage and the finer weight yarn I went down to a 3.75mm/US5 needle. With less than a week to go knitting a giant shawl should be no problem right?

The first thing that struck me about the pattern was the increases, I love them. They make big lacy holes along the edge. Indulgence lent it self perfectly to those increases, but still held a nice shape with the garter stitch body. The yarn is extremely easy to knit. I find that I don’t often enjoy knitting with non-wool yarns because of the lack of stretch, but the twist on this is just right and makes it really fantastic to work with.

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First impressions mean everything, and I was immediately in love with this yarn/pattern combination! 

It wasn’t long before I reached the first lace panel, the yarn was perfect for the lace, so open and lovely. Usually you can’t get a good feel for the lace until you block it, or you have to stretch it out to see it, but this yarn opens up right away. The stitch definition was excellent and the holes were nice and open.

Of course, because everything was going so swimmingly well I then got a horrendous cold that made it so I didn’t even want to knit. I did try, but it just didn’t happen. I lost a couple of days, and like a good Hollywood movie this added to the drama. I boarded my flight to Ottawa with a knitting bag and an unfinished shawl. (Queue dramatic and slightly urgent music).

On the way to Ottawa I knit hard. I had flights and layovers galore, so there was plenty of time. I watched movies, but made sure to only watch movies I had seen before so I could maintain my focus on finishing my shawl in time for the event. It was intense, and luckily for the longest flight I got one of those seats with the extended leg room. I had the middle seat, but my seat neighbours were both very small and skinny guys. I had all the room I needed for rushed, frantic knitting motions, without fear of accidentally punching someone in the face.

I managed to finish the shawl about 50 minutes before I arrived in Ottawa! Now all I had to do was block it. I had plans to lay out towels, and block it on the bed. The event was the very next day, so I figured if I blocked it as soon as I arrived in the hotel, in the morning if it wasn’t dry I could flip it over and use the hair dryer to finish it off. I was reasonably sure this would be necessary, Ottawa has high humidity which doesn’t lend itself to drying fast.

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Nuthin’ like a granite counter top and a porcelain sink to add some class to your blocking.

The next morning I got up and readied myself for an hour of blow drying, but to my excitement the shawl was bone dry! Hooray for silk and linen! It turned out amazing. Fabulous. Everything I could have wanted and more!

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Blocking! I think it was the 15ft high ceiling in the room that enabled me to block it so quickly…

That evening at the reception, I received many, many compliments on my shawl. Most people expressed shock that I made it, and all thought I was crazy when I invariably mentioned that I had finished it on the way to Ottawa.

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Obligatory Hotel Room selfie with Shawl.

The reception was amazing. I got to meet some of the most incredible Canadians. Including Joseph Boyden, a writer of whom I am a fan (and yes I ran to Chapters and picked up one of his books so I could get it signed). We sat at a table with a man who has trekked to the North Pole 7 times, and is to date the only person who has done it alone! The Governor General, David Johnston is without a doubt, the most gracious man I have ever met in my life. And the food. The food was legendary, and made with Canadian ingredients.

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The Abester after receiving his honour

Waiting for Rain is now the classiest knit garment I own, the combination of the beautiful yarn and the styling of the pattern is perfect. I now have plans to knit myself a sweater in it. I know that the linen in the yarn means that the garment will only get more and more beautiful as it’s worn.

If you’re interested in the other patterns that were specifically designed for this yarn, you can check them out below. I highly recommend it for anything that has lace.

Paris Nights Cocoon by Brooke Nico

La Jefa by Laura Nelkin

Alpinia Tank by Corrina Ferguson

Arohaknits is releasing a new pattern tomorrow!

 


4 thoughts on “The Other Caroline: Kicking it at Rideau Hall

  1. I always go up a size in needle to ‘streach’ that yardage, not down, the tighter I knit, the more yardage I use. But it’s a beautiful shawl and a good review of the yarn, I will look into buying some as I have Farose Shawl book coming.

    Like

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