This morning I had a bit of a surprise - tweets from friends exclaiming over the news that Margaret Stove had designed the shawl that was presented as New Zealand's official gift to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the birth of their first baby.
Having absolutely no idea what was going on, and assuming the Prime Minister had maybe got a bit confused between shawls from the Prince William's birth, I rang Grandma.
One bemused conversation with her later, I have the story. The most hilarious (because all I can do is laugh about it) is that she specifically asked if she could tell me, so I could be sure to have copies of her book in stock, and she was flatly told that she couldn't.
Anyway, here's the info:
Margaret was commissioned to design, spin and knit a shawl for the event of Prince William's birth in 1982. A special request from the High Country Breeders of Merino sheep, the shawl took nearly 400 hours of work and was a purely original design, inspired by traditional Maori design and native New Zealand flora.
Image courtesy of the Christchurch Star
There is an excellent article, written by Margaret, in the Summer 2013 issue of Spin Off magazine. It details the fascinating process of creating the shawl.
Anyway, the official gift given by the New Zealand government to the new parents today was hand spun and knit by Cynthia Read of Cambridge. I was lucky enough to meet Cynthia at the Creative Fibre Festival in April but had no idea why it was she wanted to have a nosey at our shawl samples. The design is Filmy Fern from Margaret's most recent book, Wrapped in Lace (Interweave Press 2010). It is an incredible shawl with amazing drape and from tomorrow we'll have the book sample in the shop for anyone who would like to drool over (just not on it, please, that would be gross). It is knit using Artisan Lace Gossamer, which produces wedding ring shawls - that is, a shawl that will fit through a wedding ring.
Image courtesy of Interweave
And here I was thinking i'd be able to avoid all the royal baby mayhem. Hooray babies, but let's value the people nearest and dearest to us first, yeah? We've had a very shaky few days here in Wellington and it means nerves are frayed and knitting really is the ticket for keeping worries at bay. I have even more respect for what the people of Christchuch (including Margaret) have lived through the past few years, what with sleepless nights thanks to aftershocks and the constant worry that we're yet to see our big earthquake. Thanks goodness yarn is soft and squishy and bouncy!
I'll update this post as I get more information about the gift (and hopefully some pics!). Take care of yourselves xx
Edited to add: A great radio interview with Margaret on Newstalk ZB this morning - the link takes you directly to the clip.