BACKSTORY: Pearl River

I think of my life as a tangled skein of yarn.  For a crocheter or knitter the physical reality of tangled yarn is a bummer. But virtually, as a metaphor for the path of life, the messy ball of yarn image is perfectly apt and no more aggravating than the meandering thoughts of a daydreamer.  The way in which one strand of yarn twists and loops back on itself, meeting, crossing and touching at unpredictable points  and getting distractingly knotted at times… that’s how certain themes in life are connected.

My sense of interconnectedness is not in the same class of consciousness-raising experience as Proust’s taste of tea-infused madeleines or his step on uneven paving stones.  (Be warned: if you tell anyone that I have referenced Remembrance of Things Past in a blog post I will categorically deny it!) And it’s not an ominous warning like Bad Wolf. The ball of yarn thing is casual and completely unintentional.  When some word or name keeps cropping up throughout your life you don’t think much of it at first.  But later you begin to believe there’s something there. Once in your life is incidence.  Twice is coincidence.  Three times?  That could be interpreted as a pattern.

So it is with me and Pearl River.  My dad was born in a farming village on the delta of the Pearl River in Guangdong (Canton) Province, in the southern part of China [see this post].  We lived in the back rooms of our Chinese laundry in a town called Pearl River [see this post]. Mere coincidence.

Last year Cari Clement, Design Director for Caron International Yarns, asked me to develop a crochet project, specifically a wrap featuring broomstick lace technique.  As is the usual procedure for free-lance design work, I was forwarded a gang of paperwork that outlined the contractual agreement and identifying label/title for the project. To my surprise Cari had picked the name Pearl River for the broomstick wrap. YAHTZEE!

The yarn to be used for this wrap was Spa.  Pretty much all of the names given to Spa designs are those of spas and resorts.  Therefore, in keeping with that theme, Cari was probably thinking about Pearl River, the hotel/casino/spa/resort in Choctaw, Mississippi, and not my dad’s hometown or mine either. But I still felt a little stab, a thrill of recognition and an affinity for that name. Even before I picked up my hook, I understood that the Pearl River Wrap had to be really special and beautiful.

Our choice of Spa in the creamy shade Naturally has an inner glow that reminds me of pearls.  So I was inspired to integrate broomstick lace with regular crochet to create a lovely, textured fabric I call “Broomstick and Pearls”. The pearls are little bobbly bumps that are such fun to make and pop to the front of the fabric. The wrap gets its stay-put shape from a line of increases at the center back and may be styled in stunning ways.  I hope you enjoy the Pearl River Lace Wrap,  pattern now available as a free download at

And ponder this.  Suppose we took two yarns, held them together and wound them into one ball, then took that ball and threw it around the room, let the dog or cat bat it across the floor, let the kids play Monkey in the Middle with it.  That’s what a relationship is like.  🙂


11 thoughts on “BACKSTORY: Pearl River

  1. I loved this wrap instantly and (at minimum) mentally queued it! I like the metaphor (Proust references notwithstanding) – I liken Pearl River to those sticky points in the yarn that don’t mean to get tangled and create messes, but in many instances do. 🙂

  2. Absolutely beautiful! the audio explanation is good– I listened 3 times 🙂
    When I think of Pearl River, I remember a small town in New Jersey, or maybe New York? where a college friend had a wedding in the Summer of 1979. I will expand my memory to include your dad, and a lovely shawl with bobbles.
    Not sure if/ or/ when I might do the crochet, but I have printed out the PDF pattern, and filed away.
    Such lovely makes my fingers yearn…

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  4. Thank you for sharing…it’s gorgeous. I have been intimidated to even try broomstick, although I am now challenged by your wrap, because it is so pretty and it looks like maybe not too hard. I have tried to knit, with little success so I guess that’s why I feel intimidated. I keep trying to see in my head how it will work out. :o)

  5. Yet another homerun!! And the backstory makes it all the more lovely :o) Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself with this pattern!

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  7. Pingback: Crocheted Pearl River Lace Wrap in Purple Cashmere-Merino

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