Shell Report (with visual aids)


I understand you may need some translation from the unconventional orthography and dizzying transitions in this little scholarly dissertation of the Preteen’s. (Granted, she was five years old at the time.) Here’s the transliteration:

Shell Report

Shells are cool

and some are slippery

but some aren’t.

I like shells a lot.

Some are spiral like this

but some are like this.


Here is a turtle.


The End.

(She is so going to kill me.)

Well, I’ve been making shells lately, so this seemed like the perfect introduction to MY Shell Report. Especially with the drawings.

I live almost as far away from salt water as it is possible to get in North America. So the only shells I see are snail shells and fresh water mussel and clam shells. Although, around the turn of the century, there was quite a local commerce here making mother of pearl buttons from river clams and mussels. (As a child, I did occasionally find shells with round holes where the buttons had been punched out of them, on the river banks.) And the limestone bluffs are ancient sedimentary rocks, good hunting for fossil shells according to my husband, who has studied some paleontology in his day.

But sea shells ( at least those less than eons old), there are a lack of, in these parts. Combine that with a request to find or design patterns for sample skeins for Twisted yarn, and — I’ve knitted myself a couple shells! (Meg sends out a sample skein of yarn with every order, dyed with shorter color repeats so that when knit up, it mimics the effect you’d get with, for example, a sock knit up with a regular skein. You can now even request a particular base yarn and colorway, and she’ll honor your request if possible.)

So, a commenter in the Ravelry Twisted Yarn Sample Skein thread (there IS a thread for everything in the Ravelry forums!) suggested the Paper Nautilus Shell pattern, which was fun, though fussy with the yarn I was knitting, a fine sock yarn (the original pattern calls for worsted weight). And the striping was different from what I was expecting before I started knitting. But it’s still awfully cute, see?



Something fascinating happened as I prepared to sew the little shell together. Here it is, just off the needles, ready to sew:


(Looks like a different kind of sea creature, doesn’t it?) Well, you can see it’s not immediately obvious how to put tab A in slot B to assemble, especially if you’re working from a black and white picture. So as I was figuring it out (I knew the cast-on edge should go to the bound-off edge), I discovered that if it’s allowed to roll up with the knit side out, it assumes a familiar configuration.

sperle-configuration-2.jpg sperle-configuration-1.jpg

Look! Sperle shells! as the 5-year-old Preteen would say.

I find it fascinating that the same knitted piece, when allowed to assume its own three-dimensional shape, would look like that with the knit side out, and like this with the purl side out. nautilus-configuration.jpg Fun with topology, eh?

Well, that little experiment took less than half the sample skein, so I decided to knit Nautie with the rest. Also fun, but a bit fussy! I’m not 100% convinced I’m up to knitting all the face tentacles, so let me show you just the nautiloid shell, which I like.


We’ll see if I’m insane enough to do multiple tentacles in I-cord on size 0 dpns. (EZ didn’t call it Idiot cord for nothing!)

By the way, it was only as I wrote this post, that I figured out the turtle in the Shell Report. I thought the author had just run out of ideas, and threw in the turtle because she could draw a good turtle and to ‘pad’ the report. But it’s because turtles have shells! Okay, it only took me seven years to get it.

Off to a weekend knitting with the nuns. Well, actually, knitting AT the nuns’ place. Though I have no doubt that some of them knit. Anyway, no computers, just knitters and knitting. See you later, tell you about it then!

P.S. Late-breaking news before posting: I hear from Deb, who is graciously putting me up tonight en route, that I may be sharing my bed with a hairy but lovable guy named Paco. Don’t tell my husband, OK? He thinks I’m with the nuns!

8 responses to “Shell Report (with visual aids)

  1. Simply fabulous! I love all those grade-school reports, but not quite as much as the poetry! Cute knitted shell, too.

  2. I love the shell report – by the preteen… I just posted a story my 5 yr old wrote the other day. Your knitted shell is really cool! I’ve never seen anything like it! Enjoy cuddling with Paco while knitting with the nuns… ha ha!

  3. Have a lovely weekend, and enjoy the fond embraces of Paco. Your secret is safe with me 😉

  4. Nuns? Hairy guys? Hmmm. This blog is getting a little racy!!

    The shells are just precious, and so is the report! What a hoot!!

  5. The shells are just darling!

  6. Very cool! I must confess a fondness to knit cephalopods… I’m glad you noted Ms Preteen was 5 when she wrote that poem… I thought, hmmm…. the kid looks a little smarter than that (I know, what does a person know from looks…) Oh, and I got the turtle reference right off, and liked how the kid was thinking!

  7. I *SO* enjoyed this entry and the photos!

  8. Pingback: Illustrated Book Report: The Odyssey « Hither and Yarn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s