Thursday, June 12, 2014

Necessary Shawls

In this crazy world, I find wrapping a soft knitted shawl around my neck and shoulders is necessary. Old lady-ish or not, I have a few stalwart shawls that I wear around the house for warmth on cool evenings or mornings. I let the shawl rest on my shoulders and tie the ends into a loose knot. If the weather is very cold, I wrap up in a larger shawl and toss the ends over my shoulders. Comfort, not fashion, is my goal.  

Recently I finished knitting two warm weather shawls. Although they have a shade of plum in common, the patterns were quite different. Zephyr Cove by Rosemary Hill begins with a small leaf knit at one end of the shawl and ends with a simple lace pattern in a second color. Garter stitch short rows shape the shawl into a long boomerang. While the construction was interesting, it was the name of the pattern and the leaf drew me to the design. Hill named the pattern after a cove in Lake Tahoe and knit the original in teal blue and forest green. I'm not sure I'll knit a shawl with such an elongated shape again but the ends will wrap twice around my shoulders. I knit this shawl in fingering weight yarn, Tosh Merino Light.

The Red Robin Shawl by Helen Stewart is knit from Blue Sky Alpaca Silk. Stewart's pattern made a simple but elegant shawl. Her meticulous design includes an ingenious beginning which eliminates the pesky little point that sometimes happens at the beginning of triangular shawls. She also added a stitch to the edges that eliminates the awkward increases next to purl stitches. I had a few wobbly looking rows in the stockinette section of the shawl but blocking smoothed them out. I will probably knit this pattern again.

Shawl knitting offers a wide variety of designs. Some shawls come with intricate lace patterns while other create simple lines with stockinette or garter stitch. Shawls can be shaped in a crescent, rectangle (stole), large circle, triangle, or some variation of a shape. I happen to prefer a triangular shaped shawl for the straight forward construction and ease in wearing.  Summer is a great time for knitting a lightweight shawl, as the garment requires less attention to fit and finishing. Matching the pattern to yarn is a delightful process.  My advice for the summer is to choose a design, choose a yarn, knit, and enjoy. Then wrap up in your shawl and a book from your reading list.

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