I loved this little bit of undergrowth alongside the trail to the Salishan Spit. When I find chaotic spots of color and texture like this, it inspires and informs my knitting designs – and makes me happy!
The Salishan Cowl is another pattern which lends itself to a look into the design process. In this case, it was a matter of being immersed in a place as well as spending time pondering the building blocks of knit design, the stitches.
I’ve lived in Oregon for 25 years now, and have known of the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort since shortly after we moved here. I’ve driven by it numerous times, but it wasn’t until last August that I finally stayed there.
When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found that the grounds were quiet and peaceful. The room was spacious; there was a choice of restaurants and the food was delicious. The atmosphere was that of a mountain lodge even though the ocean was within walking distance.
This was to be one of my retreats at the beach, where I spend time knitting, resting, designing. I spent the first few days knitting, taking walks and puttering around. I threw a bunch of yarn (collected over the years) on a table, hoping that color combinations would jump out at me and inspire some designs:
The yarn led me down dead end paths. Perhaps they were dead end at the time and may yet lead to new designs. Time will tell.
As it turned out, though, the inspiration came from the place itself.
The resort is situated so that the lodge, restaurants and accommodations are on the east side of Highway 101. It’s about 1/4 mile walk from the rooms to the highway, which you cross to the golf course, spa and shops.
There’s even a lovely yarn shop in The Shops, In The Wind Yarns. It was new to me then, but now it’s a must-stop place whenever I go to the Coast. I love to visit and see all the new things they are working on and what new yarns they’re bringing in. There’s always something fun going on!
But I digress! At last I was going to explore the Salishan Spit, which I had always been curious about. Viewing across the Siletz Bay from Highway 101, there is a thin slice of land with houses on it. How does one get there? During my stay, I learned that The Spit is accessible by car only to residents of the gated community or to guests of the resort. Otherwise, it may be accessed by foot on a trail which begins next to the shops and golf course.
It’s a long hike to traverse the length of the spit. As I approached the end of the spit, I turned a corner and was shocked to discover that we had black (or dark gray) sand on an Oregon beach! It was one of those amazing moments when you find something completely unexpected. I had absolutely no idea we had a dark sand beach in Oregon.
You can see the dark sand over the light here:
And these organic shapes and lines:
It was all hauntingly beautiful.
The building blocks:
Also during my stay at Salishan, I spent time poring over my stitch dictionaries. One stitch in particular, the Japanese Feather, struck me as very beautiful and elegant. An added bonus: as far as lace stitches go, it’s pretty straightforward and easy. And it’s apparent to me that my subconscious zeroed in on that stitch pattern as a representation of all the lovely lines and shapes I had seen during my wanderings – even including that “S” in the Salishan signs.
The process and the pattern:
During the next six months, the impressions from Salishan and the thoughts of that stitch remained with me. Sometime in December of 2014 or early January 2015, I found the perfect edging for the cowl: the Herringbone Stitch. It would create a pleasing contrast of a highly structured edging with the organic shape of the Japanese Feather. Additionally, it was a stitch that wasn’t being used by a large number of designers, so it would create a unique look. And finally, it’s a fun stitch to work, albeit time consuming.
The pattern also includes the option of working a Seed Stitch border. It is easier and quicker than the Herringbone Stitch border, and it still creates an elegant look.
Worked in Malabrigo Silky Merino, this cowl just floats! It also is lovely in Rowan Felted Tweed.
This design is really one of my favorites. Not only do I feel like a million bucks whenever I wear this cowl, but I have the treasured memory of finding this beautiful and unexpected, somewhat hard-to-reach beach, which I hope to visit many, many more times in the future.