I don’t know if this internet thing is a good thing, it keeps making me succumb to something which is suspiciously akin to peer pressure (1). I see someone knit something and this small thought pops into my single brain cells and niggles me to have a go myself, to contemplate making the same myself. I want one of those! I want to do that! Hm. Not good. Or is it?
Shawls were something I’ve known about. There was the vast bright green, gold and beige monstrosity with feathery edges that my mother wore back in the Eighties over a beige raincoat. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Never my particular colour scheme. There were also two crochet shawls that appeared at about the same time. A bright red one and a more sombre green one. They were slightly itchy (it was probably the oversized tassels, I’m not keen on enthusiastic tassels) and smelled suspicious, as if they’d been sitting around neglected in a cupboard for a little too long (2). My dad wore those. No, I’m serious. Preferably the green one because it toned in a little better against his maroon-brown anorak and didn’t make him look quite such a cheerful babushka-ed grandmother. (We took keeping him warm in his wheelchair seriously, however, unfortunately, we were never a fashion conscious family). Later on again in the early Nineties my mother had a delicate cotton lace shawl from that bastion of cotton Victoriana, Laura Ashley. I loved that and hankered after one of my own. It disappeared really quickly too, I’ve no idea what happened to it.
Shawls really haven’t been on the radar since then. I can’t claim that they’ve gone out of fashion because I don’t know if they ever were fashionable (see previous comment about fashion conscious family), I don’t think they’ve been fashionable lately because I don’t remember seeing any in the shops (not that I shop either). Scarves have been very popular, first the pashminas then after several harsh winter, chunky knit scarves too. I like scarves. I always wear a scarf. Not a chunky one, too heavy. I have also been known to tie my pashmina around my head in a shawl-like manner when it gets very windy. I know that this is not fashionable, I have been told, several times. But it does keep my Western hat on my head. And the wind out of my ears. I am practical before socially acceptable.
But out there in the internet world of knitting, people (3,4) make shawls. And wear them. Beautiful shawls. Lacy, complex, simple, square, v-shaped, rainbow-hued, cotton, mohair, beaded.
Maybe I could make a shawl. You know, one day.
Then I saw a pattern in the latest Knit Now magazine. Like the internet, that magazine tempts me into all sorts of temptations. It was a basic shawl (in fact, they described it as a scarf), perfect for beginners and knitters who can’t count or think, knit up in stocking stitch with simple increases.
I could do that.
Well, you know, maybe.
No, I really think I could give that a go.
But there’s plenty of WIPs and a queue behind that of things that must be made. Ill health and birds haven’t exactly helped my knitting.
I put the magazine away for future reference.
Then late (about 21h) on Friday night, I made my mind up. I was going to have a shawl for Sunday’s event.
Yes, I know. We’ve discussed this before, I shouldn’t create impossible deadlines for myself nor underestimate the amount of time it takes me to knit something up (5).
I got out my box of stash. I found some suitable yarn, I think it’s now been discontinued. I cast on. And I knitted through the night.
I know, I’ve also told myself that I need to keep a sleep pattern because my Circadian rhythm need no encouragement to go a-wandering up the creek. I did get some sleep eventually.
Saturday evening, I finished said shawl. I did!
I didn’t block it because the yarn I used was so thick, it holds it shape very well. It feels more like I’m wearing a fleece (in the traditional sense rather than a modern polyester sweater) over my shoulders. Besides, I wasn’t sure how to block this particular yarn and my blocking boards (AKA sofa) have been out of action. Birds.
Then I just had to find an outfit that would go with it!
I really need to find a way of photographing my knitted projects a little more professionally so if you have any tips they would be gratefully received. As it is, at the moment, I’m struggling to hold the camera too.
But this is the shawl (6) I made:
I suppose it is really a shawlette.
This is the pattern (7) that I made it from:
I know, just a little bit different. It happens to me quite a bit. Like when I cook, I find a recipe then end up with something else. I think the problem is that I use what I have not what I’m meant to.
Mine is knitted on 7 mm needles (instead of 4 or 4.5 mm in the pattern) as recommended on the ball band. The yarn was Patons Baroque in possibly the Spa colourway (the price label is right over the key information on every single ball!). I used two 50g balls and only increased up to 45 stitches instead of the 101 in the pattern but because of the different gauge, it came out about the same size. The other modification that I made was to join the two halves with my own version of a three needle cast off rather than Kitchener stitch. I don’t get Kitchener stitch, it requires having a tidy brain. I especially didn’t fancy giving it ago on such a fuzzy, bobbly yarn.
And that’s the other thing, I don’t really do novelty yarns. I bought a few reduced ones when I first started knitting and seemed doomed to be a scarf-only knitter but they’re not really me. However, I think the yarn has worked well in this pattern and I enjoyed wearing it. I don’t often knit for myself. Mobile phone sock?
And isn’t shawl such a funny word when you think about it?