Shawls on my Mind

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of knitted shawls right now. Only the idea, because I don't have time to knit as many shawls as I would like to, apparently—if you look at the projects most recently added to my "To Knit" list, there's a ton of shawl patterns. I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool festival last week and though I managed to stick to my budget and only buy a few skeins of yarn, they're all either lace or fingering weight and half of them are already "promised" to a few shawls.

Maybe it's because it's springtime, and the weather is transitioning quite violently here in Colorado—yesterday was lovely and sunny, today it's a little on the chilly side and my sinuses tell me it's likely to rain later—but shawls are such fantastic spring knitting projects. Heavier shawls like Cecily Glowik MacDonald's Insignia Shawl are great for days like today, with it's simple garter stitch and gentle heft to cover the shoulders and stay warm without having to break out a jacket. (I've got a thing about this—I feel that, by May, I should be able to put away heavier jackets.)

Sarah Fama's Loon Island Shawl would have been a great choice yesterday. A fairly simple lace repeat in a silky laceweight yarn is a wonderful accessory for a warmer day that's still a bit windy and nippy in the shade.

I'm knitting a shawl right now, one that I'm kind of "winging" as I go. I don't have any pictures, as it's going to go live with someone else whenever I finish it and thus must remain a secret, but I'm enjoying the process of seeing the little bit of knitted shawl grow with each lace repeat, and I just started working on the lace edging last night. A few days ago, I came across this fantastic lace knitting "cheat sheet" for shawls over at It displays the five most recognizable kinds of knitted shawls and a basic "recipe" for knitting each of them. If you're looking to make up your own shawl, print this out, pick a stitch pattern, and knit away!

If creating your own shawl pattern requires too much brain power that is currently being sapped by seasonal allergies, a) I feel your pain, and b) pick up a copy of knitscene's Summer issue and go stash diving for yarn for the Insignia Shawl, Loon Island Shawl, or any of the other 26 projects in our first-ever summer issue.

'Till next time, happy knitting!

PS – Did you know you can know sign up for our auto-ship program and receive a copy of knitscene in your mailbox? Same cover price, free domestic shipping, no having to cross your fingers and hope the LYS still has a copy—what a deal!

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6 thoughts on “Shawls on my Mind

  1. Oh how I know about lack of brainpower! I had back fusion surgery (L5-S1 for those who can relate) in late February and have spent the last 12 weeks more or less semireclined and resting. Before surgery I thought that this would be a great time to knit – I have a fair isle languishing on the needle – but I quickly found out that was not a good idea. What made me think I could knit while heavily medicated, I have no idea. I couldn’t follow any kind of complicated instructions. Horrors!
    I did discover the Helix scarf pattern – there were only 3 rows to remember, 30 stitches to work, and I wouldn’t have to frog too far if I made a mistake (I frogged a lot). I had some elsbeth lavold wool/silk (can’t remember name of the yarn – go figure) in a lovely raspberry. I actually managed to complete the scarf in 8 weeks. That was really an achievement. There are a few little ‘spots’ but I love it. It represents my struggle to heal and triumph over pain.
    I liked the pattern so much that I bought some ella rae super merino and have started another one – the colors remind me of the pansies blooming at our back door. I’m about 4 weeks into this one. It is progressing faster as I am doing better. This will be a gift to my dear friend, the driver-to-the-yarn-shop, tea drinking & knitting companion who has helped me keep my sanity through this. We literally avoided 2 tornadoes and skirted floodwaters to go buy yarn. While we were at the shop we were stranded there for 3 hours when a flash flood caused the creek (so picturesque!) that runs between the shop and the highway to overflow the low-water bridge and block the exist. It happened. Really!!! No – there are pictures… it wasn’t an excuse to stay there all day.

  2. Thanks for your sweet story of recovery from back surgery. I, too, loved knitting the helix scarf. I had bought some dark green sock yarn that didn’t work out for socks, but made a lovely scarf. A life-threatening flood–what a great excuse to spend the day in a yarn shop!


  3. I echo Afteryears’ comments – basic knitting in garter, stockinette or easy rib is so therapeutic when you don’t have the mental energy for anything more complex. I have a cardigan that I knit while I was in hospital for 2 weeks. I had a lace pattern at the front closure, but the rest was all stockinette stitch. The repetitiveness lead me to a meditative state, helped me remain calm and focus on my recovery. It also helped me feel better, in that I wasn’t just ‘sitting there’ but also accomplishing something at the same time as recovering. I now have that project posted on Ravelry as my ‘Recovery Sweater’ and wear it with pride.
    Now, years later, after a hard day at work staring at policy and legislation, I use my ‘simple’ projects to unwind – no thinking, just doing… it’s great.

  4. Hi AfterYears, I’m sorry to hear about your back surgery, how painful! I’m glad you’re recovering. God’s blessings on you and your family,

  5. I just finished the Rose Lace Stole from Interweave Knits (Spring 2011). It was the first lace item I knitted and I feel great about it. I used a custom milled Alpaca/Merino blend in a reddish brown. It took me 2 and a half weeks to get through it. the extra half week is probably because I ended up dropping 3 stitches on my 3rd-from-the-end row on the first side (My 5-year-old son just wanted to hug me in the middle of a complicated row). All the “yo’s” just unraveled down about 10 rows. Cause I was afraid it would keep unravelling if I just ripped it loose, I un-knit those 10 rows and then re-knit them. Anyway after nearing the verge of tears, I got that side done. Needless to say, when I got to the other end, I only knitted when my boy was in bed at night; I was NOT going to go through that trauma again.

  6. @afteryears That is a beautiful story about knitting through (or perhaps, to?) recovery! Thank you for sharing it. and please stay safe with crazy weather! Good thing you had knitting to keep you occupied. 🙂

    @Julies sorry to hear about your un-knitting, though it is sweet that your little one just had to give you a hug. 🙂