Although I like the look of knitted lace, I've never really been one for the process. The same used to go for shawls, until I realized you can turn them around and wear them bandit-style, at which point I managed to crank out three shawls over the course of the summer. Two were for me, one was a gift; two can be worn bandit-style, one is a bit more structured and meant to hang over the shoulders and down the back.
First up, Laura Chau's Simple Yet Effective Shawl. My number one inspiration for this project was the brightly colored sock yarn shawlette version knit by my friend Meg. I love the poppy bright color and the texture of the shawl knit fairly loosely on sock yarn. I wanted to knit something for our friend Brenda's birthday and it seemed like a great opportunity for the bright red sugar viscose yarn I picked up when we all (Meg, Brenda, Vanessa and I) got together in Austin.
This shawl was a perfect way to feature this slick, drapey yarn. So I mentioned it's sugar viscose - the yarn is Queensland Collection Sugar Rush, and it has the slick texture of microfiber, but is made from sugar cane. I can't imagine it would work very well on a garment that you would need to fit in a particular way (shirt, sweater, hat, etc) but it makes a wonderfully drapey accessory to toss over your shoulders.
The pattern is a simple formula for this type of shawl. The only specific choices I made (besides yarn and gauge, obviously) were regarding the YOs. Like most triangular shawls knit from the center neck point out, the shaping is done with YOs down the center and along the sides. In this shawl, however, you're alternating between strips of garter and stockinette stitch, but I wanted the YOs to look the same throughout. So when I was in a stockinette strip and would be purling the wrong-side rows I would still knit the YOs so they would always be resolved the same way. It makes for neater, more consistent lines, in my opinion.
Next up is the shawl that swept the online knitting world this summer - Ysolda Teague's Ishbel. I'm not going to re-hash everything everyone else has said about this one, besides just noting that it was especially quick and rewarding. Not much effort --> really great payoff. Like many other knitters I chose to do the large stockinette section, but small lace. I'm pleased with the size, and for scrunching up around the neck bandit-style you just don't need a ton of lace. The only issue I've had with the shawl is that, after a fair amount of wear, the nicely-blocked, lacey drapey shawl has scrunched up and needs to be blocked again. Who knows when I'll have time/space for that again.
Here's what I will dwell on, though - the yarn I used for this shawl. It's a silk-merino blend sock yarn hand-dyed by North Loop Yarns. Laura sells her hand-dyed yarns through her etsy shop - and please don't despair, she's been moving and is offline for a little while, but I imagine once she has a regular day to day life again she'll resume business. (Please soon? Laura?) At any rate, the silk blend was perfect for a shawl, and the Ishbel pattern looks great in a semi-solid color.
Finally, most recently I knit a shawl for my wedding reception. We got married in the end of September in Chicago, and although it's frequently been pretty warm at this time, this year it got cold quickly. Our heat even came on a couple days ago! About a week before the wedding I started panicking about having something pretty to throw over my shoulders. I had a nice silk pashmina-style scarf I'd ordered with my dress, and ordinarily I'm a big fan of these things, but I just didn't want to be constantly adjusting the thing, having it fall off when I hug people and hit them in the face, etc etc. I needed something to keep my shoulders warm that would also stay put, and as you can see in this next picture, the Summer Lace Shawlette (scroll down to the "sweet somethings" packet or just skip that awful page and see it on rav) by Sandi Wiseheart was the perfect solution:
Look - no adjusting required! So, I clearly didn't wear a pink dino tee (by seibei, for all who are curious) for my wedding - if you'd like to see the shawl + dress combo you can take a look at these shots taken by Carolyn.
I used cascade cloud 9 for the shawl, and that yarn, although it is a touch sheddy because of the angora content, is worth Every. Cent. Soft and warm, soft and warm.
Just to bring this epic shawl post to a close, I have two more notes on this pattern. First, I did find one surprise in the shaping of the shawl, and that is at the shoulders. The reason I picked this shawl, like I said, is that it has that nice line of YOs over the shoulders so it stays put really naturally – no pinning, holding, wrapping, tugging, etc. (Um, that and I could knit it in like 3 days.) The thing is, there’s a spot along that line of YOs where the shaping changes (in row 27 you switch from YO, k1, YO to YO, double decrease, YO, so you’re not increasing so much across each row) and it creates a bit of a point right around the end of the shoulder. At first I allowed the point to do its thing in blocking, thinking this would provide the shoulder shaping I was after, but it was WAY too pointy. Then I blocked it again, trying to smooth out the point, which isn’t entirely possible while you’re trying to preserve the shape of the shawl. I ended up ironing over the points on the day of and it was fine, but not perfect.
Secondly, I'd like to say I wish Interweave would do something to promote this pattern a little better. I mean, I guess blog entries like that one, and people's gorgeous shots of it on flickr do help, but it would be nice to see its publisher help out. The pattern is buried in a pamphlet of "sweet somethings," which is cute, but it doesn't tell me anything about what's in there, and when you print this packet up you only get a grainy, out of focus picture of the front of the shawl. Clearly the interest is all in the back here. So come on interweave, you published a gorgeous shawl, why not give it some love?