Blocking the Biggest Lace Shawl Ever
Hey guys! It's been a while, hope you're having a good new year so far.
Yesterday, we launched the preview for the Spring issue of Interweave Knits. This issue includes several shawl designs, and I was so excited by one of them that I worked up my own version over the month of December. The O'Kelly's Chapel Shawl is a large, dramatic accessory that was really engaging to work on. Patterning (meaning, yarnovers and decreases) are worked on right and wrong sides and the long row repeat makes memorization pretty tough–so I had to pay close attention to the chart. Worked over 125 stitches, I also marked off each repeat and, even on rows with lots of plain knitting, I counted the stitches between markers every row. I made mistakes often, but I also caught them quickly this way. I love this kind of knitting!
I chose a different yarn for my version, a lovely wool-silk blend called Susquehanna DK from The Knitting Boutique. This yarn is plied, has a great twist, and is kettle-dyed, which gives my shawl a nice subtle variation in color. It took me 6 skeins, or around 1400 yards, to complete the shawl. That's a lot of yarn in a DK weight. That's because this is the BIGGEST LACE SHAWL. EVER. How big? Well, here's a picture of it blocking.
That's a queen bed. My shawl, after soaking and spreading it out, measured about 80" (before the edging was applied !) and 30" wide. The original in the magazine was 66" by 27". Now, I didn't do a gauge swatch, and I'm a loose knitter. Plus, my yarn is plied and has wool content, unlike the magazine version. And I soaked it for 20 minutes before blocking, to really get into the fibers. All of these things could lead to the bigger size. I admit, once it was pinned out on the bed, I thought, oh boy. This isn't a shawl, it's an afghan. How will I wear it?
Well, I had no reason to worry. This thing is so wearable and wrappable and lovely. I've worn it a lot.
I wore the shawl around the show floor at TNNA in San Diego and felt so…regal. (Bad hotel selfie below). I was in India back in November and fell in love with big shawls and wraps; the women wear them with such everyday glamour. Modesty, mystery, and warmth, all in one swirl of a paisley wrap. I even got into it–at bottom is a pic of me wrapped up at the Taj Mahal (photo by Erin Slonaker):
So go for it. Knit a big, dramatic shawl and wear it with spirit. Rectangular shawls like this one can easily be doubled and worn as a scarf, which is great for when you're running around and need full use of your limbs. But then, you take your seat on an airplane, or at the office, or the movie theater, or whathaveyou, and you can slip the generous fabric over your whole upper body and get cozy. I'm hooked.