Saturday, 11 March 2017

All about the (crochet) shawl

Collage of nine crochet shawls
Top row L to R: Spun Gold, Missed Kingfisher, Acer - Middle row L to R: Fronds, Contour, Spun Gold - Bottom row L to R: Your Mileage May Vary, Transposition, Northmoor Lock

If you have followed me on Instagram for a little while you will know that I love making and wearing crochet shawls.
In thinking about this post I have been looking back through past makes and I do appear to have made a lot of shawls in a short period of time!  The collage above shows that I am a particular fan of the fabulous Joanne Scrace and Kat Goldin from The Crochet Project who design the most exquisite shawls. Their latest Shawl book is launching at Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend.

So why are shawls so good?

They are the perfect project for that special skein of hand dyed yarn nestling away in your stash. You can make a good sized shawl with 100g of 4 ply yarn and a super, big hug of a shawl with two skeins of 4 ply yarn.

Developing new skills; I have learnt so many different stitches and techniques whilst making shawls that I can transfer into larger projects and other making. Mastering short rows for the Missed Kingfisher shawl has been a revelation and helped improve my knitting too!

I am always cold and find shawls a great way to add an extra layer and warm up. Shawls made in DK yarn are particularly lovely for this...

Wearing the Fronds shawl - a DK weight shawl

The perfect shawl...
Over time I have developed some preferences - for shawl shapes, construction and yarn choices - and thought it might be interesting to share them with you here;

Shawl shape
Through trial and error, I have found that I much prefer wearing shallow crescent or shallow asymmetrical triangle shawls. I wear shawls 'backwards', with the point of the shawl at the front and I find some larger shawls or particularly deep shawls 'swamp' me.

Shawl construction
If I love the design, I will give any shawl pattern a try, but when I have one really lovely skein to use, I will definitely search out a shawl with a construction that lets me use up all of yarn. The Crochet Project  have a couple of designs like this - The Northbrook and Spun Gold. You work the pattern increases until you have used just under half the skein and then you begin on the decreases - finishing the shawl with just a tiny amount of yarn left. This type of shawl construction means you can skip the swatching phase of the process if you wish...which is an added bonus!

Yarn choices
So much about yarn choice is personal preference and I would just say that it is really important to know that you can tolerate the yarn close to your skin before you start making. Also, always check the meterage required by the pattern and compare with the label on your yarn so that you can be sure you'll have enough to finish the project. My current absolute favourite yarn base for shawls is a silk/merino blend 4 ply - it makes a beautiful warm and deliciously soft fabric. Talented and lovely indie dyers Helen at The Wool Kitchen and Larissa from Travel Knitter both use this base and I can't recommend it enough. I have just used some of Larissa's yarn to make my second Spun Gold Shawl and I'm so pleased with the result and here is my first Spun Gold using Helen's yarn which is a go-to shawl for me now.

Work in progress shot using a silk merino blend yarn

Thank you so much for dropping into my blog, I hope that if you aren't already a crochet shawl devotee, I might have inspired you to give crochet shawls a go - I'd love to hear how you get on...x


  1. What a fantastic collection Helen! You have definitely inspired me to make Spun Gold. And I really must make another Missed Kingfisher to replace the one that got away!

    1. Thanks so much Tamara, I will look out for a Spun Gold (& Missed Kingfisher) appearing in your Instagram feed! x

  2. Lovely blog post idea and helpful. X