Her Handspun Habit: Why I Knit Shawls (#sorrynotsorry)
I closed out 2017 like many other spinners around the world: with a finished object and some crafting contemplation. My FO: surprise (not)! It’s a shawl! For anyone who has been following this space, that makes three knit shawls in the past three months. This is already one shawl more than I knit in last year’s entirety, and I don’t hate that.
Clearly, I enjoy knitting shawls. They are fun to wear, plan, spin for, knit, and even periodically, gift, to very worthy recipients. This time around, I matched this bouncy, laceweight singles yarn and its stupendous color repeats (which I couldn’t bear to lose by plying) to a simple garter-stitch, bias-knit shawl, a free pattern from Justyna Lorkowska (aka Lete’s Knits) called Close to You. I’m thrilled with the results and the use of the yarn’s own striping effect in the fabric.
The fiber from *Sheepspot is worth mentioning on its own, as this Targhee spin from pencil roving was unlike any I’ve experienced in the past. (Feel free to check out my spinning notes.) Sasha sources her own wools and has them milled to her specifics, all in North America. This handspun is the essence of Targhee: a soft wool with bounce. (You can read more about Targhee’s characteristics by clicking through to my recent post about my handspun Targhee socks.) The knitting took time, due to both the yarn’s springy energy and its fine gauge. (I spun 717 yards from 3.5 oz of fiber.) I fulled this high-twist yarn, which held up beautifully throughout the knitting process.
So won’t I eventually have more shawls than I can possibly wear?
Just as our spinning skills evolve with time and practice, our tastes evolve in a similar way. I’ve already weeded out a number of shawls from my closet, as time has brought me greater knowledge of my own likes in color, shape, size, and so on. With such a wide range of styles and even stitch patterns, ranging from repetitive and calming to true lace, shawl patterns provide an optimal canvas for spinners who want to try out and see the fabric of every type of drafting and color-blending technique.
Don’t know how to wear a shawl? I promise, you’re overthinking it, just like the first time you wore lipstick instead of lip gloss and worried that everyone was staring at your mouth (or was that just me?). To summarize Stephen West: Throw the thing around your neck. Boom. You’re wearing a shawl, which happens to be an ideally sized, portable knitting project as well as a simple (and practically endless) means of personal style expression. (Editor’s note: See some favorite ways to wear shawls by Sara Dudek and Lisa Shroyer.)
There will be more shawls in the coming year. I can’t help myself. They comfort me from start to (post) finish. They are my version of others’ sock knitting. There will also be sweaters and blankets, successes and failures, weaving, and who-knows-what-all-else as we spin our way through 2018.
Spin and knit what you love, always. Follow what works, then step just outside of those lines of comfort. Sure enough, eventually you’ll find that your ground space has widened, minus the associated anxiety.
May your spinning bring you joy and comfort throughout the coming year.
To see my other two handspun shawls (plus a bonus woven scarf):
- Spinning with intention and my Cladonia Shawl (by Kirsten Kapur)
- How your own handspun helps make you a better spinner and the Brillig shawl by Nim Teasdale
- Weaving: an ideal way to save that less-than-perfect skein of handspun
Featured Image: The extra-bouncy singles yarn has a bit of extra twist. Photos by Deborah Held