Wednesday, April 30, 2008

On Shawls....

My daughter asked recently what I was working on....

When I replied, "a shawl" she said "How many do you need?"

Obviously she is not a Knitter or even a knitter.

Any Knitter knows that how many shawls (or any other knitted item) you have made is beside the point.

I like knitting shawls, I like to wear them too but mostly I like knitting and designing them.

My first experience with shawls was a class on faroese shawls taught by Joan Schrouder and sponsored by the Greater St. Louis Knitter's Guild in the spring of 2004. I was totally lost.

But I have learned much since then, thank goodness I have her invaluable handouts,
and have enjoyed and been inspired by these books:


I love these books for stitch patterns:


A Shetland Shawl
The first shawl I made was inspired by the instructions for a shetland shawl in "Best of Knitter's Shawls and Scarves".  The yarn is alpaca/silk from Elann.  I didn't do a great job of knitting or designing this shawl and one day plan to make it again with improvements, but I was quite proud that it turned out so nice and I've worn it a lot to the point where it is showing wear and tear, needs to be reblocked:

A Pi R Square Shawl
Next I made a "Pi R Square" shawl from Elizabeth Zimmerman's book 'Knitting Around'.  The yarn is Silky Wool by Elizabeth Lavold.  I added a border/collar.  The 'square' portions of the shawl came out to be too long, so I knitted i-cord and laced it through the yarnovers to gather it up.  I like wearing this shawl although it is a bit cumbersome, it drapes beautifully:

A Flower Basket Shawl
I love all the beautiful shawls that Evelyn Clark designs.  Here is my Flower Basket Shawl knitted in gray laceweight merino with the yarn doubled.  It is knit exactly as given in the pattern from the Fall 2004 issue of Interweave Knits.

I also made the Swallowtail Shawl (Fall 2006, Interweave Knits) although I knit it as a square rather than a triangle.   I don't have any photos and it turned out too small so I gave it to my eight year old cousin Mira (she was thrilled and now wants to learn how to knit).

Flemish Block Cap Shawl
When Jane Sowerby's Victorian Lace Today was released I was inspired to make a 'cap shawl', but not one to be satisfied with following directions I decided to base the increases on the principle of the cap shawl shaping in the book but inserted my own choice of stitch pattern and border.  This yarn is from, but I purchased it on ebay.  Very interesting, soft, handspun, thick and thin, lots of yardage for the price.  I'm really pleased with the way this shawl turned out, it's a little odd to wear because of the swirl shaping it skews when folded in half, so it works better to just fold back a section as if it's a collar.

Woven Diamonds Faroese Shawl
Finally I made it back to faroese shawls once I could understand what was going on by studying the notes from Joan's class and the articles/patterns in Best of Knitter's Shawls and Scarves and A Gathering of Lace.  I designed a shawl that is similar to the yellow and blue faroese by Meg Swanson in Best of Knitter's Shawls and Scarves, but again elected to use my own choice of stitch patterns for the gusset and border. I prefer lace that has a stockinette background, I think it shows the stitches better, so my faroese shawl has stockinette background on the border and gusset but the edging and side panels above the border are knit in garter stitch.  The yarn is Brown Sheep Naturespun Sport 100% wool.  I've worn it a lot, the yarn is pilling some and I've just re-blocked it.

My friend Fran begged me for this pattern so she earned the title of Test Knitter.  Unfortunately my first attempts at writing the pattern had errors and Fran spent a lot of time starting over - I'm still amazed that she stuck it out.  There is a photo of it on her blog.  In any event - the pattern is correct and clear and I will soon make it available for sale and teach it as a class at Kirkwood Knittery.  I decided to 'test knit' it myself and needed to find an easier way to finish the neckline where the last stitches are joined - so I just completed a version in white cotton/rayon by Dalegarn that I purchased at Knit N Caboodle.   I like it a lot and look forward to wearing it soon.

The 2/3 Pi Shawl
In between the two faroese shawls I found some gorgeous hand dyed silk/wool laceweight yarn at The Loopy Ewe . Not only did I love the color, I loved the name that the hand dyer goes by, Chewy Spaghetti.  I decided to make a modified version of Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Pi Shawl' from Knitter's Almanac and Best of Knitter's Shawls and Scarves.
I thought it would be nice to have it open in the front so rather than make a full circle that is usually worn folded in half and draped over the shoulders, I used my pi r square shawl to determine that 2/3 pi would be enough to go around my body. I  cast on with a provisional cast on working increases according to the pi shawl formula. Then I added a very simple knitted on border from Barbara Abbey's book Knitting Lace. I folded back the border to create a 'collar' when I blocked it.  I think it has sort of an antique look to it.

Hmmm - how many shawls does one need?

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