Clockwork: the Man Shawl


I finished Stephen West's Clockwork yesterday (you can find it on Ravelry here:

I started this pattern in December. Some of you know that I've been suffering from debilitating tennis elbow since November - and by debilitating, I mean, not able to knit, throw pots, exercise, type, lift a coffee cup, put a sweater on over my head type debilitating (there will be another blog entry on THAT soon, all about what I've found helpful and not helpful).

After about a month of complete inaction, I did a google search for knitting and tendinitis, and came across a WONDERFUL technique called Portuguese Knitting (PK). In this style, your hands can actually rest in your lap and there is minimal movement of the fingers. It is easy-easy-easy on the body, and, as it turns out, easy to learn (previously, I knit in both the continental and the English style, and it is easier than either of those). I learned to knit PK style on this shawl, so the going was slow at first, but picked up speed as I got more and more used to it. Anyone with elbow/wrist/finger problems should at least look into this style of knitting - your body will thank you.

Right before Christmas, I was diagnosed with SVT - super ventricular tachycardia, a type of irregular heart beat which turns out not to be super at all, and because it causes me to pass out unexpectedly, had to be fixed. That happened on Friday - without a hitch. I spent the day in the hospital, and was home Friday night (yes, out patient heart surgery!) being taken care of by my two favorite people. It was a wonderful weekend of rest, movies (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest and Social Network), being waited on, and knitting! I finished Clockwork on Saturday evening, washed and blocked it on Sunday, and today, my last day of rest, I get to play show and tell.

One of the things that strikes me about hand knitting is how the garment we're knitting accompanies us through our life circumstances. This shawl came out so well, and I learned a new way to knit, while at the same time my physical body felt a bit like it was falling apart. Somehow, this scarf is the more special because of that.

The yarn that I used is sock weight alpaca, and it's knit on size 5 needles.

Jonathan in DC

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Bill's picture

Jonathan, the scarf is wonderful!
Hope you're allright!!!

I have two friend who knit in the Portuguese style...and they love it...

Kerry's picture

Nice scarf Jonathon, I'm a fan of Stephen's and made a couple of his scarfs. Sorry to hear about your physical problems. I've had tennis elbow since before Christmas and know what a nuisance it is. I'll ckeck out PK. Hope your elbow heals soon.

Nice job Jonathan! I hope, if it is a defibrillator you rec'd, that you are as good as new...even better!



YarnGuy716's picture

The scarf looks awesome! I'm mid-way through one right now. I set it down after the first section was done and do need to pick it back up.

I learned Portuguese Knitting at the Spring Retreat, but have not kept at it. I think I just need to pick a project that will be done PK and force myself to stick to it. I will say that I thought purling was a super breeze that method. I was ready to do miles or Reverse Stockinette.

Hope you are feeling better. It is very rough when physical ailments keep us from doing the things that we love.

ronhuber's picture

The scarf is lovely. Great colour choice. I hope you are feeling better but how wonderful that you did not let a physical ailment stop you from knitting. A wonderful story of overcoming adversity. I am also learning to knit in the Portuguese style. It is slow going. I originally knit in the German or continental style and then switched to English to achieve better tension. That was a difficult switch but I am glad I did it. I am enjoying the new adventure, as you are.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Glad to hear you are doing okay, Jonathan. I've tried PK and thought it interesting because it does work well for purling. Who knows? I may even attempt an entire project some time. Take care. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Tom Hart's picture

It’s interesting to hear that other guys are checking out PK. I think the common factor with Jonathan and me with regard to learning PK was compelling motivation. With Jonathan it was a way around a disability (tennis elbow). With me it was an unscratchable itch to do color work and double knitting. The night I saw Stan Stansbury working on a red, white and green Christmas Stocking using PK, it changed my knitting life. Up till then I approached color work with the idea of picking one color and throwing the other, using both continental and English. That night I saw that there was an alternative to picking and throwing. I could flip both colors. Easier than I could flip a flapjack.

It didn’t really just change my knitting life. It changed my life. I can make things easily with this method (especially double knitting) that would have been a lot of work the other way. It changed what I can do and what I can make. That’s kind of big for me.