Monday, October 24, 2011

11 shawls in 2011!!

If you've been reading here, you will know I have been on a bit of shawl kick this year. I never really thought I would ever knit shawls - they always appeared too difficult, too fiddly, too time consuming, but I have really enjoyed my foray into shawl knitting this year.

I think part of the appeal is the lack of finishing. Sew in your ends, give it a good block and that's it. There's no sewing on buttons or zips, dreaded seaming, or having to worry about sizing.

They're also perfect for that one skein of special yarn - no worrying about having enough yardage, matching dyelots etc.

I will confess that while I might be a keen shawl knitter, I am not always as enthusiastic about wearing them. I have made a few for gifts this year, some I kept for myself. Some I wear tons, some I will probably never wear, one is going to be kept for special occasions.

However, I am a firm believer that sometimes the knitting is about the process rather than the product. Back in 2009 I made good progress on knitting a whole bunch of sweaters for myself - and I don't wear most of those very often either. I think knitting so many shawls this year has definitely helped me work out what I'm likely to wear, and what I'm likely to just keep to admire, or simply knit for the experience and challenge.

My 11 shawls in 2011 was definitely about challenging my skills, and trying new techniques and constructions. I learnt so much, and it was a good opportunity to knit some things for myself, and to knit a few gifts too.

So 11 shawls! Here they are:

Favourite? Easily the Rock Island. It is just so lovely. It was a great challenge for my knitting skills and I learnt so much. The yarn and pattern were a match made in heaven and I can't wait to wear this somewhere special one day. I really wanted to knit at least one lace weight shawl this year and I'm so pleased with how this turned out.

Most worn? My hitchhiker. Made in super soft bamboo from Tri'Coterie it is so lovely to wear and is a great length to wear scarf style. I also really enjoy the knitting of this pattern, and made a second one to gift to my sister for Christmas.

I wanted to try a few different construction techniques - Hitchhiker is knit on the bias, Pettine is knit side-ways, Rock Island is bottom up, Eiki is top down and the Xi shawl makes use of short rows to give a construction that is really unique. I also had a go at stripes with the Sencillo shawl and the Pix shawl.

I also designed a shawlette. Faultline was released in September, in remembrance of the earthquakes in Christchurch.

Two of the shawls - Rock Island and the Pix shawl - are over 500m. The others are mainly one skein of sock yarn shawls (so from 320m to about 400m). I got to sample a great range of yarns too - including merino/cashmere/nylon (MCN), merino/silk, bamboo, organic cotton, sparkle lace weight silk/merino, and tightly plied merino.

I have to do a plug here for yarns. Firstly, Tri'Coterie of course. Not just because I'm an honorary staff member/helper but because the range of yarns are just so lovely and luxurious. I'm lucky to have had a chance to sample so many decadent bases this year. The Rock Island, Xi, Elena, both Hitchhikers and my orange Faultline are all Tri'Coterie yarns. Maylin has a great eye for colour and offers some fairly labour intensive colourway options (gradients, stripes etc) that are usually fairly hard to get a hold of from indie dyers. We have a group on Ravelry if you want to come see what's on offer this month. And also, my favourite NZ yarn - Fibre Alive from JOY. I used the Merino Mania (4ply) three times in this challenge, including using it for my own design. The colours are rich and deep, and the tightly plied merino looks especially nice in garter stitch in my opinion.

The Elena shawl, the Xi, and Pix were all test knits, and it was fun to knit something "new", helping out others and learning what works for my own pattern writing.

All in all my 11 shawls have taught me so much about yarns, colours, techniques and pattern writing. I'm really proud of myself for completing 11. It may seem strange to have such an ambitious goal in a year which has included major disruption and stress and heartache, (and a move to the other end of the country), but I think having some external goals has kept me motivated. Busy hands and busy mind - doesn't leave much room for wallowing ;)

Will I be up for the challenge in 2012? Hmmm....

(Mosaic made here.)


  1. Wow, 11 shawls already and still two months left in 2011! And they are all so lovely. And so cool that you used such a wide range of fibres and pattern types/techniques. Yay you!

  2. Will it be shawls again for 2012? Either way, I think it's safe to say you'll be up for the challenge. You've done so beautifully with these, and I'm both proud and jealous of you ;-)

  3. Oh so gorgeous. I have never seriously looked at doing a shawl but you really have inspired me. And I have yarn envy!

  4. So, so good. What an output! So much to love and learn!

    I too have shawls I'll probably not wear much, not because I don't like them but because they just get pushed aside by the most wearable ones, the ones that go with more of my wardrobe etc etc. But each one was fun to make a great process.