Sunday, 15 February 2015

prairie fire

i've just released a new/old pattern on ravelry. prairie fire is a one-skein wonder shawl that i designed as a gift last year for my auntie, and right now you can download it for free using the code "heartscape" until the end of february.

prairie fire is the common name for castilleja coccinea, also sometimes known as indian paintbrush (my auntie made a joke about that as soon as i gave her the shawl). it's a gorgeous, fiery flower that can be found across the prairies, out west, and down as far south as the andes with certain strains of the castilleja plant. i have many memories as a wee one stumbling on patches of them on hikes while camping. you can actually eat the flowers, although the roots and green parts are toxic if ingested. the bright hues of manos del uruguay's alegría in carnaval reminded me of these flowers, and i knew that a one-skein wonder shawl had to be the showcase for these reds. indian slipped stitch (hurrah for racist stitch names…from now on, i'm referring to it as loopy cross stitch) provides some lovely texture and reminds me of the long petals of the flowers.

auntie pauline happened to be wearing the perfect shade of lipstick when we dropped by.

my other major inspiration for this shawl is my auntie pauline. she's been a friend of my parents' for almost forty years, and is married to my uncle rodney, who is one of the kindest and most openhearted people i've ever met. the pair of them are this force of gentle loving action, always helping others and using their good fortune to advance the lives of people less fortunate. auntie pauline is an elder, and since moving back to winnipeg, i've had the delight of spending more time with her than i have in over a decade. she's full of traditional knowledge, and apparently she and mum harvested sage from fields inside the city when they first met. they were nursing buddies way back in the day, and i grew up pretending pauline and rodney's samoyeds were my wolf pack. 

the colours and design of this shawl remind me so much of auntie pauline. this shawl is now hers, and i'm so happy and blessed to have her as my model for the pattern. we took these photos last summer in her backyard right before i flew out east for my residency.  

pattern: prairie fire by me, available on ravelry
materials: one skein of manos del uruguay alégria, or 425 yards/389 metres of fingering weight yarn

mumsy and auntie pauline sharing plant love, four decades in.

many thanks to my auntie pauline, who graciously agreed to be my model! kinanaakomin!
hippie blocking.

bonus pic: i loved this design so much that i had to make one for myself. i used northbound knitting merino singles (i'm in love!) in verdigris, and knit it right before my white rabbit residency in nova scotia. i blocked it under the blackberry bush on an unfolded vegetable box. i have so many wonderful things associated with this shawl. i love how knitting can take those memories and emotions and experiences on as you work and wear it.

bonus pic number two: i also made another one while i was doing my residency, using a skein of yvieknits sparkly sock in orange julius that i'd picked up at the loop in halifax right before i went to the woods. the colour was exactly what i'd pictured in my mind for a fire-inspired look for when nature fought back, so of course it had to come home with me. i knit the shawl during breaks in the open-air bar and during fire circles. the colour is almost impossible to photograph properly, but trust me, it's gorgeous.


  1. What a beautiful shawl and lovely inspiration behind it!

  2. Gorgeous! Love the Orange Julius version especially. You have knit projects in so many nice places.

    1. thank you! i've been very lucky to travel as much as i have :) the travel and locations always lend such great inspiration to my projects too, it's a win-win!

  3. Beautiful shawl! Indian paintbrush is Wyoming's state flower and one of my absolute favorites to come across when we're out exploring. I guess I need to to dig through my stash to find the right yarn for this project, huh? ;)

    1. it's a perfect one for those weirdly variegated skeins that you just can't bring yourself to destash ;)