Sometimes old sayings are corny, but sometimes they are still around for a reason. “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself” isn’t totally accurate but maybe “If you do it yourself you will get exactly what you want” fits better.
I have been on a total shawl knitting kick lately ever since I finished the 4 year Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl.
So, now that I have learned the versatility of shawls and how much I really do love them (before I was partial to stoles or small blankets wrapped around my shoulders) I want to make LOTS of them and design them. Also, I like the idea of using my handspun yarn to make shawls. The picture below is the Boneyard Shawl by Stephen West that I made out of my own handspun and my own hand dyed roving. It was a Finn top blended with some angora in the white parts. The shawl has never been blocked, which is a shame, because I added some rather pretty lace to the bottom but it is so huge (over 65″ unblocked) and I use it so much that I never got around to it. Maybe in the Fall.
So, that brings me to the reason I am posting in the first place. I wanted a shawl that would showcase either handspun yarn or the beautiful variegated yarn that I love so much, but usually isn’t great to use for shawls. I did like the way the Boneyard shawl came out in handspun but it is kind of plain and sort of a boring knit. Plus, I had to make it bigger because I hate it when shawls are so small that they slip off of your shoulders as soon as you move. Which brings me to my inspiration. For my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/6catsknittingaround I was putting together a sample to send to the Phat Fiber box for July and the theme is art nouveau. I picked a picture that is Terpsichore: La Muse De La Danse. I picked it for the colors but later realized that she is wearing a shawl.
So now for the design challenges:
1. I happened to have some beautiful turquoise variegated laceweight yarn I was looking to make into a shawl but didn’t have enough to make a shawl with. I solved this by finding some perfectly matching solid turquoise sock yarn and decided to do alternating sections with the sock yarn being a smaller 8 row section while the lace sections would increase in size.
2. I wanted the shawl to be interesting movement-wise since it is La Muse De La Danse but also somewhat lacy. So I decide on a feather and fan style of pattern but with the solid sections in between to add interest but also contain the lace somewhat. Plus, with the increasing size of the lace sections it also gives a feeling of movement.
3. I needed to be able to make the shawl versatile so that people can do it A. in different weights of yarn, especially hand spun & B. in different yardages because they can’t always predict how much they will get out of a bump of fiber or if they would like to substitute a different yarn. So, I solved this by doing sections rather than a repeating chart so that if you know you are going to run out of yarn you can skip to the edging or if you are surprised by almost running out of yarn (like I did) you can just do a garter stitch edge for the last few rows and bind off.
4. I like shawls that can stay on without having to be tied. I solved this and added some more interest/movement to the shawl by splitting it into 4 sections so that you have a triangle on your back and two sections that hang over your front. You could totally walk around the house in the morning with this shawl and have no problem keeping it on.
The other added benefit to doing this is that it gives the center section a pretty butterfly shape.
This design took me about 2 weeks to knit and design it so it’s a pretty easy project to finish. I included a very pretty edging that you can also add beads to in the pattern but the photo below doesn’t have this edge. I will be knitting a second one and be giving the test knitters the choice to add this edging if they like but as I previously said I suddenly ran out of yarn (mostly because I was watching a marathon of a tv show with my daughter and wasn’t paying the attention I should have to the amount of yarn left in my ball). The good thing about this is that I realized it would be really easy to just go until you run out of yarn and then bind off. I had a ball of Karabella New Magic that I wanted to incorporate into the edging somehow but couldn’t quite figure out what to do because it didn’t fit with my planned edging. So, when I realized that I wasn’t going to have enough of the other yarn to do my planned edging I just improvised and knit the small section followed by a few rows of garter stitch and bound off using a stretchy bind off. Then I picked up stitches across the top (I like to do this to give a solid top edge to my shawls) and knit a few rows of garter stitch and used the same stretchy bind off again. This made a really nice frame around the shawl.
So far I have written the pattern for a shawlette & medium size shawl. I will be sending it to the pattern testing group on Ravelry on Tuesday and will hopefully have the pattern up for sale by August. During the test knitting phase I will be doing another one myself all in sock yarn and plan to make that into a large size so that when the pattern is released it has 3 sizes and that one will also have the planned edging (really, I will pay attention to how much yarn I have this time I promise, no more tv for me).
If you would like to be a pattern tester for me between today’s date and August 5 you can send me a note or leave a comment requesting to be a tester. Please remember, by doing this you are committing to actually knit this pattern during the testing period and finishing it by September 1. It is a super easy pattern to do and to memorize so all levels of experience are fine. You can use any yarn between a lace weight to a worsted weight yarn it is your choice what size yarn and what size shawl you want to make. It would be perfect for self striping, varigated or handspun yarn (except maybe art yarns which I would say use for the edging) and takes anywhere between 400 to 1000 yards. I’m going to do the second test shawl in Noro Kureyon sock yarn and am shooting for 2 skeins but have a 3rd lined up just in case. After knitting this shawl I know it will become my standby pattern for most of my handspun yarn from now on.