Wednesday 4 March 2015

What to knit Wednesday: Shawls

The 'Mara' shawl is a great staple wardrobe item
It's time for another 'What to knit Wednesday' post and today I thought I would talk shawls because I was recently asked by a church friend to knit a shawl for her - a commissioned project. To be honest I have only ever completed 2 shawls and I currently have one in the works but here are some patterns that I love.

1. You can't go past the classic style of the Mara shawl. This is a free Madelinetosh pattern that is designed for DK weight yarn but gauge is not as important with shawls so you can easily adapt it for another yarn weight without needing to swatch.

I knit it with the suggested yarn and followed the guide, buying 3 skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh DK. I must have misread my measurements because I ran out of yarn to bind off and had to patch it with some scrap yarn of a similar colour but the same weight.

Regardless, I love this shawl and I love this yarn. It's simple garter stitch pattern makes it a perfect everyday item and a staple of my wardrobe.

I knit this Hyla Brook for my mum last Christmas
2. The second shawl that I knit was for my mum last Christmas. I knit her a 'Hyla Brook' designed by Paula Emons-Fuessle using some Quince & Co. Tern. However, I was short of 2 skeins so the shawl turned out more like a shawlette. I love this pattern because even though it is a fingering weight knit it worked up pretty quickly with an easily memorised pattern. Another great thing about this pattern is that Paula has also created a checklist to help keep track of row counts and the percentage completed. So, because I didn't have a full 2 skeins I could use the checklist to track how far from the end I was and judge whether I needed to cast off early since I was running out of yarn.

3. On my needles right now is a 'The Age of Brass and Steam' shawl by Orange Flower Yarn. I'm pairing this with 1 skein of Australian independent dyer, Augustbird's gradient 8ply. This is my third attempt to use this yarn because it is not easy to find a pattern that will showcase a gradient yarn best. I'm hoping that this shawl will be a good pattern because according to Ravelry it only needs up to 240 yards/ 219 metres of DK weight yarn. 1 skein of the Augustbird 8ply has 258 yards/ 236 metres so theoretically when I knit up this shawl I will be able to go through each of the gradient colour transitions.

Augustbird White Gum Wool 8ply in 'Allegro' colourway and the pattern for the 'Bella' shawl in the background
4. I initially hoped to use the gradient yarn to knit a 'Bella' shawl. I even got so far as casting on and knitting the first 20 rows or so before I realised that this pattern was not knitting this shawl top down but actually starting at the bottom left hand corner and knitting across. I decided to frog it because I didn't want my gradient going diagonally up from the left hand corner. What I needed was a top down pattern for a triangle shawl if I wanted to maximise the visual effect of the gradient.

However, all is not wasted with this pattern. When I gave my friend some shawl patterns to choose from she has chosen this 'Bella' pattern. So, I'm quite excited that I will still be able to knit this and learn some new techniques while I'm being commissioned to make it.

5. My fifth shawl pattern is Alicia Plummer's 'Campside' pattern. She designed this as a free pattern for Pompom magazine's blog last year and it is a generous sized triangle shawl that incorporates 3 different lace eyelet designs. I wanted to knit this with the gradient yarn but it needs a whopping 780 yards/ 713 metres of DK weight yarn and that meant I would need 3 skeins of the Augustbird gradient. I wanted the gradient to transition once through each colour so that meant that I would have to keep alternating the three skeins every couple of rows and I in the end I was turned off by how cumbersome that was going to be.

Some 'Bubbles Darling'
For now I have queued this project and I think I might knit it up with the 2 skeins of 'Bubbles Darling' Red Riding Hood Yarns that I picked up at the Nunnaba birthday sale.

As you can see I've got some shawl knitting ahead of me. You may think when am I going to wear all these shawls but I'm starting to see a correlation between being a yarn addict and a shawl addict - it's a bit of a reoccurring trend in many of the other crafty/ knitterly bloggers that I follow.

What are your favourite shawl patterns?

I also have 2 skeins of the Augustbird gradient left after I knit the 'Brass and Steam' shawl, so, please share your pattern suggestions for gradients too.

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