To Shawl or Not to Shawl?

Filed in Point of View by on April 7, 2016 5 Comments

Shawls are one of the most popular category of projects to knit based on the conversations I hear at conventions, what I see on the show floor and the numbers in Ravelry. However, I am not really a shawl person.

Shawl Knitting

I am not good at wearing them (I feel like they wear me) and although I appreciate the beauty of the lace with which many are made, I know I will not do a proper job blocking them. It is not that I don’t know how, I just know I won’t invest the time.

Even so, I just completed a few weeks ago a call for shawl designs for Zen Yarn Garden for their ZenBox shawl kit club as part of Refined Production. A couple dozen designs were submitted, but we were only able to select three. What I found interesting about the process was both the similarities and the uniqueness of each proposal.

The designs tended to fall into one of three categories:

  • Triangular – basically three sided even if not a true representation of the geometric shape
  • Semi-circular – Due to the size constraints of the call a full circular shawl wouldn’t really make sense
  • Crescent / Wedge – More than a semi-circle in shape that would tend to sit on the shoulders and less likely to fall off.

Once we move past the basic shape the similarities stop. Fabric choices ranged from fairly simple to somewhat complex, mostly solid to extremely lace. Construction techniques went in all directions. Edgings were applied after the base garment was finished or included as you went. Truly the variety was inspiring and challenging all at the same time.

As the project manager / editor for this particular project, I made choices based on shapes and complexity of design, along with other criteria that matter for the pattern publisher, but not necessarily for the end consumer (knitter). Interestingly, one design that made the short list I liked except for one feature, but chose to include it anyway. When the final cut was made it was not selected, but was an alternate, if that feature could be removed. I hadn’t mentioned anything, but neither of us liked it.

So now I am curious from the knitter’s point of view. There are TONS of pattern choices in every category you can imagine. But for the moment, let’s just consider shawls.

If you do knit and wear shawls, what is part of your selection criteria? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below; as a non-shawl person, I really would love to know!

Tags: , ,