Inspiration and Innisfree: Finding the Perfect Shawl in Poetic Crochet

We talk a lot about shawls around here, and for good reason—shawls are the best! I’ll admit that I was not so keen on crocheted shawls when I first started at Interweave, though. I thought they were old-fashioned and stuffy and not good for much of anything. Oh, how wrong I was! Shawls are extremely beautiful and endlessly useful.

Some of our loveliest and most inspiring shawls are found in our 2015 book Poetic Crochet. Designer Sara Kay Hartmann has created a collection of twenty truly stunning shawls inspired by classic poems. I love them all, but I immediately fell for Innisfree. It’s beautiful and practical, which are the two main qualities I look for in a shawl, but it has another, more personal, claim on my heart: it reminds me of my grandfather.

Grandfathers and shawls don’t usually go together, but there’s a connection here for me. This shawl was inspired by the W. B. Yeats poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” which my grandpa occasionally recites at family gatherings. It’s a peaceful, calming poem that perfectly suits both him and the mood of Sara Kay’s book:

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

If you’re so inclined, I strongly encourage you to go read the rest —it articulates so beautifully the desire for peace in our frantic, chaotic world. Sara speaks to that desire in her introduction to Poetic Crochet:

I find the act of crocheting poetic because it is beautiful, creative, and soulful. Despite our technology-driven world, we do not have crochet machines (other than our fingers). Therefore, we must take time to form one stitch after another in work that is beautiful and meaningful.

What a lovely thought. And although I won’t be able to crochet this shawl in a small cabin near a garden and beehive, I am looking forward to carrying a sense of peace and mindfulness with me wherever I work on it.

The body of the Innisfree shawl is made with the granny stitch worked in rows; the V-stitch and chain-loop border adds a refined finishing touch. It’s lightweight enough to use in the summer but substantial enough to keep you warm on chilly days—basically, it’s the perfect shawl to carry you into the cooler days of autumn. Although the shawl in the book is made in a fantastic range of blues, purples, and greens, I think I’ll make mine in a forest green as a reminder of Yeats’s poem and the land that inspired it.

Does poetry inspire you to create? If so, pick up a copy of Poetic Crochet—I know you’ll find beauty in its pages.

—Rachel


Poetic Crochet: Inspiration Found

 

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