An Introduction to Shawls...
As soon as I embarked upon my journey to learn to knit, I became aware that shawls were a Very Big Thing in the community. In fact, they are their entire own thing. Knitters, it seemed, were very passionate about shawls, with some making them their sole focus of the craft.
And I'll be honest with you - I didn't get it.
It's not that I don't like shawls, but for most of us, they're simply not things that we wear, use or ever bother think about on the day to day. We grow up associating shawls with a caricature grandma with a grey bun and little round glasses, or with downtrodden Cinderella before the fairy godmother came and did her makeover.
But more involved I become in the knitting world, the longer I spend browsing Ravelry, and the more Instagram knitting accounts I follow- the more I realise that I was very wrong.
Shawls can be intricate, versatile, works of art and examples of impeccable, eye-wateringly beautiful design. And I can see why they are the focus of so much passion!
It all began when I started to follow Stephen West on Instagram. As someone who is drawn like a magpie to colour and pattern - West Knit's designs are a feast for my eyes. West's shawls are like a geometric, psychedelic dream, and it hurts my brain to consider how any one of them are made. These are works that look so beautifully intricate I assume they must be made by enchanted spiders on LSD.
Then the other week I stumbled upon this piece on the Cut - a Love Letter to Andrea Mowry's Find Your Fade shawl design. In in the author had a similar journey to me in terms of learning to appreciate the shawl, and I associated hard, and its got me thinking about the shawl.
Since then, shawls have been on my mind a great deal - daydreaming of maze-like patterns and colour combinations, and the myriad of ways I can drape, wrap and wear them on myself. Right now, my holy grail of knitting aspirations is to some day be able to make one of the more flamboyant and technicolour West Knit shawl designs - right now I cannot even fathom how one sets about making one of these designs, but I sure do want to get there one day!
But...let's walk before we can run!
This week I've asked the amazingly talented shawl knitter, Ethan, from our very own Outlaw Yarn to give us a tour-de-force of the different genres of shawl that are out there, and recommend some patterns for us to dip our toes into the wonderful, mind-boggling, beautiful world of shawls! These patterns are all in variety of shapes, suitable for all experience level, utilise different yarn types and there's something here for everyone!
Now...over to Ethan!
THE BIG SHAWL...
The Decemberist by Melanie Berg
Using the Lissy Cole yarn makes making a big shawl much faster! This pattern from Melanie Berg, the queen of shawl knitting, has a little bit of lace at the edge and we have a big blue sample in the shop. Decemberist is a fast knit for big impact.
PATTERN LINK: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/decemberist
RECOMMENDED YARN: Lissy Cole Auaha Haukura Collection
THE SMALL SHAWL...
Antarktis by Janina Kallio:
Small shawls or shawlettes are great layering items and much like a Hermes scarf add pops of colour and interest to an outfit, there are many small shawl patterns and they suit high twist yarns usually and are an excellent entry point for beginners. Janina Kallio has an entire library of "one skein shawls" or shawls that use roughly 400m of fingering weight or 4-ply yarn.
PATTERN LINK: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/antarktis
RECOMMENDED YARN: Sock Bandit or Hedgehog Fibres Sock
THE LACE SHAWL...
Rising to the Occasion by Lana Jois:
Lace shawls are classic and make efficient use of yarn to make big beautiful pieces, most knitters will have one or two in their wardrobe but they can be time consuming to make. There are many different styles of lace shawls but lace pi shawls (half-circle) or lace triangles are the most popular. Lana Jois specializes in interesting patterns and beautiful lace that works in many different directions.
PATTERN LINK: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/rising-to-the-occasion
RECOMMENDED YARN: Rebel Destiny Light
THE RECTANGULAR WRAP...
Parallelolamb by Stephen West:
In my opinion rectangular wraps and stoles are the most versatile style of shawl, they come in many different styles and types. This version from Stephen West is slightly asymmetric making a parallelogram and is great for using a variety of colours. The construction is modular so no seams and the entire piece is garter stitch so just knit stitches.
PATTERN LINK: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/parallelolamb
RECOMMENDED YARN: Bohemia Light
Thank you so much to Ethan for these pattern recommendations - I love that there's such range of styles and designs here, and truly something for every level.
If you would like to chat about any of these, or have questions about yarn, technique or how to get started on your very own shawl journey, pop on into Outlaw HQ and Ethan, Deb and the fabulous Outlaw team will be so very excited to share the shawl love and set you up for success!
Until next time, happy knitting!
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I'm Lou, an Ōtautahi based personal stylist and craft-lover, and this is Never Been Knit - my journey from complete knitting virgin to...well, let's find out together!