I must have been in high school, around 15 years old, the first time I got my mother yellow tulips for Mother’s Day. Any younger and the flower shop would have been too far away for me to go there on my own, but by 16 I would have driven there. I had heard that yellow roses symbolize friendship, and this was the sentiment I wanted to convey to my mother. Loving your mother is natural, I thought, but friendship was a special aspect of our relationship that I wanted to communicate. I wanted to get these flowers by myself. And though there was a flower shop walking distance away, I wanted to ride my bike to the small garden center near the little park I liked to ride through. When I got there, I couldn’t afford roses. This was high school, I legitimately did not have enough money to buy them. So I got some beautiful yellow tulips instead.
Memory is funny. I distinctly remember riding my bike to get these flowers and the route I would have taken on my bike to get there, but I have no idea how I got the flowers home. My bike didn’t have a basket, and there was at least one rather steep hill on the way back. I hope they got home unsquished but I’m sure my mother loved them regardless.
I know I must have missed some years getting her yellow tulips for Mother’s Day, but it eventually became a tradition. One year I got her a tulip charm for her Pandora bracelet. One year I skipped the tulips but still included yellow flowers of some sort. Maybe I even got her actual yellow roses one year. Perhaps flowers aren’t the most creative or exciting gift I could get her, but the real gift is the tradition. And tradition is something I think I’ve learned from my mother and another important part of our relationship. I love this tradition.
Though my adolescent mind constructed it as friendship, the true quality of my relationship with my mother is unconditional love. I used to keep a lot of fears to myself, knowing my successes made her so proud and I didn’t want to disappoint her. But when I have confided in her, and only her, her pride and love are unwavering. Overall, she’s a superwoman – she worked full-time, a powerful role model for me, and raised two children, one with a disability, all while making me feel fully supported. Unconditional love is one of her superpowers, and the one that I am most grateful for.
When I saw Dedri Uys’s Namaqualand Shawl, the popcorn stitches immediately reminded me of tulips and I knew I wanted to make this pattern for my mother. Dedri writes about the flower fields of Namaqualand as her inspiration for the shawl and blanket of the same name. Having recently become addicted to Scheepjes Whirl, I wanted to use a Whirl as the yarn, but one with yellow in it, of course. I chose Passion Fruit Melt, and I think it is perfect. The beautiful mango yellow represents our yellow tulip tradition. The rose pink is a favorite color of my Dad’s for my Mom to wear, I know from years of shopping for presents with him. The caribbean shade of blue (Scheepjes calls it Blueberry) is one of my favorite colors. Two neutrals, a light khaki and and dark brown, round out the colors in this gorgeous yarn. The final result is probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made.
The Making of
Gauge: 18 stitches = 2.75 inches; 1 pattern repeat = 2.75 inches (before blocking
Final size: long edge = 62 inches; height (point to long edge) = 29 inches (after blocking)
Whirl use: outside in (This was the color effect I wanted, but it is also so fun to watch the colors peel off the cake as they build up on the shawl!)
I made 7 repeats of the pattern (counting rows 1-6). After the 6th repeat, I hadn’t reached the final Whirl color, and knew I wanted to make one more repeat, but wasn’t sure the yarn would last for the full repeat and the border.
I was nervous since there is no Whirlette that matches the brown exactly, but I made it through the repeat just before the final color transition. So the border would be consistent, I started it with the final color. By this point, 1 color was not completing 2 rows, so I made a one-row border of a modified shell stitch (3 dc, ch 1, 3 dc).
I’ve never blocked anything before, but I really wanted to accentuate the stitches. I was nervous I’d mess it up, especially without blocking boards (I’m currently away from home for 4 months and we don’t have the space to bring them back). Conveniently, the sheets on the guest beds in our airbnb have a checkerboard pattern to help me out. After pinning it, I impatiently waited for it to dry.
Here’s before and after the blocking:
Design decision: I thought about incorporating a green yarn (Whirlette in Avocado) for the V-stitch (and possibly the row before the V-stitch) to accentuate the “tulips.” I decided to stick with just the Whirl because I didn’t want to break up color gradient, and one benefit of the Whirl is multiple colors without changing yarn. I hate weaving in ends!
Am I giving my mother a beautiful shawl for Mother’s Day instead of our traditional yellow tulips? I don’t think I can wait that long to give it to her, and her birthday is sooner. Happy Birthday, Mom!