The Weaver’s Guide to the Galaxy: Always Bring a Shawl

One of my absolute favorite books as a teen was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It was science fiction, but with a sense of humor and plenty of dry wit. The book served as a gateway to other authors and books with a similar sensibility. It taught me that writing didn’t have to be serious to be good; you could be smart and silly. And it also taught me to always bring a towel, although now as a weaver, I might amend that to always bring a shawl.

Shawls, like towels, are endlessly useful; they’re far more than just a pretty piece of fabric. If you’re traveling, a shawl is essential. First, it makes an excellent makeshift blanket. I take a lot of trips by plane, and with few exceptions, planes seem to be kept frigidly cold or swelteringly hot, no matter what time of year. When it’s the former, I like to pull a shawl out of my carry-on and use it to keep nice and warm.

When traveling for a week or more, packing a capsule wardrobe that can be mixed and matched is very important. Rather than packing a casual dress and one that’s fancy enough for the theater or a nice restaurant, I can turn a casual dress fancy with a beautiful shawl. It’s like magic! A simple cotton dress becomes so much more when paired with a statement accessory around the shoulders. A shawl is also a great alternative to a cardigan when you want to add a bit of warmth to a dressy outfit.

bring a shawl

Deborah Jarchow’s Travel Shawl is more than just a pretty piece of cloth. PHOTO BY GEORGE BOE

If you end up having a surprise picnic outside (and you all know I do love a good picnic), a shawl makes for a perfect picnic cloth in a pinch. You can also use it as a comfortable place to sit when you’re out hiking or on the beach. (For this, I definitely recommend shawls in superwash wools, cottons, and other easy-to-wash fibers.) Shawls can also be used to wrap up and carry items when you don’t have a bag, to keep an ornery toddler warm in the stroller on a cold day, to tie around your waist as a statement belt of sorts, and to wrap up your hair when it’s hot and muggy and you need it out of your face.

The question then isn’t whether you should weave a shawl, but which shawl should you weave? Might I suggest Deborah Jarchow’s Travel Shawl? It’s available as a kit for a limited time and specifically designed with the traveler in mind. Soft to the touch with great drape, it’s a delight to weave and wear. Plus it can be woven on your rigid-heddle loom!

Whatever shawl you choose to weave, I hope it serves you as well on your travels as my shawls have served me.

Happy Weaving!

Featured Image: Galaxy photo, caption: A barred spiral galaxy. Photo by NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: P. Knezek (WIYN)

Start your next shawl today!!


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