Knitting a Bridal Shawl

May ushers in wedding season—a season that has seemingly lengthened over the last few years! I’ve been to more October weddings than summer weddings lately. But mid-spring still feels like a bridal time to me, with its hopeful, happy flowering and cheerful birdsong. May is a month that marks a new beginning, just as a wedding does. So let’s talk wedding knits!knit shawls

Have you ever been asked to knit something for a bride? It’s a lot of pressure! But such an honor, as well. Especially for those aforementioned October weddings, a  knit shawl or wrap is the perfect reception accessory for a bride—and nothing fits the bill better than a bit of heirloom, handknit lace. But do you work something small and cute, or large and ornate, in a sturdy gauge or superfine, with fringe or with beads or with prayers and mama tears?

knit shawls
Ghost Orchid Shawl

I’ve had a number of friends marry recently, and having worked closely with them on choosing the dress, the shoes, the table arrangements and all the whatnots, my first advice is to ask the bride what she likes. Do not spend hours and hours knitting a precious  gift and surprising her with it and hoping she wears it that day.

Talk about it beforehand and get an idea for what she likes in terms of size, style, weight, and yarn. Gather the details about her wedding aesthetic—is it very traditional? Show her resources such as this knitted lace pattern collection, the book Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls, or this book Wrapped in Lace.

Knit Shawls
Viennese Shrug

Is the reception formal? You might want to look at silk yarns and blends and larger scale shawls like the Ghost Orchid Shawl from the book New Vintage Lace. Country romantic? You can look for bigger gauges, more wool content, even rustic fibers—and try finding a sparkly vintage brooch to wear with the shawl! Contemporary and simple? You might find something for her in Free Spirit Shawls.

Is it a courthouse wedding? How about a darling shrug like the Viennese Shrug, worked in white? Is the reception in a barn or a banquet hall? You can apply these kinds of aesthetics to knit shawls and narrow down the options.

For a Jewish wedding, you can even knit part of the ceremony décor by knitting a gorgeous chuppah pattern!

Knitted Chuppah
Knitted Chuppah

If you need to build your lace-knitting skills before tackling such an important project, we have tons of resources for you. Here are a few to check out:

Personally, I have found knit shawls to be invaluable at weddings. For instance, last year, I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. She had chosen gorgeous floor-length grey silk dresses for us. They were also strapless. I am not small-chested and had trouble with the top of my dress on the wedding day. In the bridal suite, as we all got dressed and touched up our makeup, the mother of the groom offered me some advice in her matter-of-fact-way, “Honey, lean forward and push them together,” she said, making some comical demonstrative motions. We all had a good laugh and I tried it. I looked in the mirror—I looked good! But as the day went on, I noticed I was starting to spill out of the dress. I became more and more self-conscious. Once we got to the reception, I pulled out a sequined shawl I’d brought and kept myself covered up the rest of the night. When I stood up to give the toast and all the cameras started flashing, I was so glad to have that shawl!

In honor of all the brides among us, of all the bridesmaids and wedding guests, and for all the moms and aunts and sisters and fathers and friends who want to knit something special for the bride in their lives, I’ve put together the Knitted Wedding Shawl Collection. This special assortment of knit shawls spans from small and simple to large and intricate, from contemporary to very traditional. It’s a great deal for seven patterns, and perhaps you’ll find something here for the special day.

Knit Shawls
Clockwise from upper right: Lale Shawl, Cowry Shell Shawl, Estonian Lace Shawl, Milkweed Shawl (bottom), Cufflink Shawl (top), Rule of Three Shawl, and O’Kelly’s Chapel Shawl.

And remember, you can make these knit shawls in any color you want. Congratulations.

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Knitting Daily Blog
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

6 thoughts on “Knitting a Bridal Shawl

  1. The Emily Dickinson shawl is perfect for many styles of wedding dress, as it is light and delicate, and has just enough lace and beading to make it dressy without detracting from the gown. Three people (2 brides-to-be and one MOB) asked me to make wedding shawls a couple of years back, and interestingly, although I showed them all a variety of ideas, all three chose the Emily Dickinson shawl. You can find it here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/emily-dickinson. I used lace weight silk / kid mohair blend yarns for mine and they all turned out great – one black, one white, one silver. I was so happy all three people chose that pattern because it’s a quick knit, too, and with three of them to make, the stress of more time-consuming patterns could have been intense!

    I made a bridal shrug for a wedding last spring, also in lace weight silk / kid mohair. The pattern is free on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/matrimonio-bolero. The bride chose the 3/4 sleeve view, which looked very formal and elegant. This is also a quick knit and a fairly easy pattern to follow, although it was helpful to read others’ comments on the pattern before starting.

    This year, it’s another lace wedding shawl. This one is silk, for a bride with ultra-sensitive skin, and since she wanted beads added, I chose unfaceted glass seed beads to avoid any chance of scratching. This one is a slower go and still in progress, but I adore the pattern and it’s been on my wish list of things to make, so I was ecstatic when the bride chose it out of the hundreds of patterns she looked at. It is the Myrtle Leaf Shawl with Willow Border, from Jane Sowerby’s book Victorian Lace Today, which is a treasure trove of wonderful patterns. You can see the myrtle leaf shawl pattern here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/myrtle-leaf-shawl-with-willow-border.

    Happy wedding knitting!

  2. I was in extremely poor health and my daughter was not seriously dating anyone but I felt that I wanted at least a part of me to be able to attend her wedding if I wasn’t going to be able to walk her down the aisle. So, I began knitting a veil for her. I told her she didn’t need to wear it but if she chose to she could think of it as my arms wrapped around her during her special day. Well, several years later I was able to walk her down the aisle and she did wear the veil! You can see it under my user name RickMartin in Ravelry (and maybe this link works: http://images4.ravelrycache.com/uploads/RickMartin/178216603/Veil_medium2.png

  3. I made a shawl for my daughter’s wedding, and one for each of her 5 bridesmaids (and myself, and the groom’s mother), and then another set for her sister-in-laws wedding, which featured 9 bridesmaids!

    I used custom dyed pure silk lace from Claudia’s Hand Painted Yarns, and patterns from Wrapped in Comfort by Alison Jepson-Hyde

    Here’s a group shot of my daughters bridesmaids: http://images4-d.ravelrycache.com/uploads/SoEasy/373267669/IMG_1284_medium2.jpg

  4. I can’t wait to make a wedding shawl. I would love to use the pattern that is at the top, shown on the needle under the words A Bride’s Lace. What is that pattern?

  5. Hello!!! I love that pattern/stitch in the picture at the top of the page that says “a brides lace” above it, can you tell me what it is?
    Thanks, Lori

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