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Notes From a Recovering(?) Shawlophobic

LBHandknits

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shawlophobia {n., knit., faux psyc.; adj: shawlophobic} - 
an irrational and pervasive fear, or dislike, of knitting shawls, oftentimes despite a penchant for wearing shawls.

You know the way knitters talk about how they love to knit shawls, but never wear them? That their closets and dressers are practically bursting from all the hand-knitted shawls they contain, most of which never see the light of day once they are off the needles? How they wish they could stop knitting shawls they don't need, only it's so much fun that they can't not knit shawls?

Well. I have the opposite problem. I love to wear shawls. I look good in shawls. I would drape a different shawl over my perpetually chilly shoulders every day if I could. Only I hate, hate, hate, knitting them.

Why? I have no answer. At least not a rational one. I do know how to knit shawls in several basic shapes, and it isn't difficult. And yet somehow, the very thought of doing such a thing fills me with dread and despair. A friend of mine jokes that if it hasn't arms or legs, I am not interested in knitting it. And it's true that sweaters and socks are my favourite things to knit. But heck, I also knit hats. Cowls. Skirts. Shawl aren't any less engaging than those. And you would think that wanting to wear them would give me extra motivation. 

Nope. Despite desperately coveting others' shawls (caugh... Melissa's Rebel shawl, I want it! caugh...), I haven't knit a shawl for myself since... Jeez, actually ever. I have never knitted myself a shawl!  

This madness had to stop. 

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Enter some handspun Gotland yarn from Woolly Mammoth Fibres.

I met the talented Emma at the Yarnfolk festival last year, and was attracted to many things at her booth. But especially the Gotland yarn. I can't quite describe what I liked about it exactly, but something about the combination of its unique texture and smell... Oh my. Months later, I still couldn't get its Swedish soft-yet-rustic goodness out of my head. It occurred to me, that perhaps this yarn was just what I needed for that extra push toward shawl knitting. 

And so, at length I had in my hands 200g of chunky Gotland, handspun and plant-dyed by Emma. The yarn is spun expertly, and dyed a rich mustard green. It's a colour that doesn't look good on everyone, but happens to suit me quite well, matching my eyes and most of my clothing. Perfect! 

So you see, my plan was sound: chunky yarn + simple design = quick project.

Determined to make this happen, I considered knitting from a pattern. But as soon as I began to browse shawl patterns, I already started to feel the dread and the not-wanting-to-do-it creeping in. I realised that if I wanted to end up with a shawl, it had to be done quickly - like ripping off a bandaid. So before I could change my mind, I improv-knit, with feverish determination, a basic triangle shawl with some eyelets. 

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Voila!  

The shawl is a standard top-down design that starts with a cast-on of 5 stitches and grows outward. As I dislike garter stitch, I knitted it in stockinette, and added some staggered clover-shaped eyelet repeats, then finished the edge with a picot bind off (the heavieness of which prevents the stockinette fabric from curling). The shawl is actually reversible, and looks good both on the stockinette and the reverse stockinette side. 

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Wanting the fabric to be somewhat gauzy and light, I knitted the shawl on 12mm needles. Happily, I used up the full 200g of yarn, winning a seriously tense game of 'yarn chicken' in the process!

I should mention also that the yarn itself was perfect for the shawl. There are chunky yarns that are very 'round', and the danger of using them for something like a shawl, is that the fabric comes out too thick and puffy. But this particular handspun Gotland is quite 'flat' (you can really tell I am not a spinner when I start saying stuff like this!), which makes it just right. 

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There isn't any more to say about the shawl itself here, I don't think. It is a fairly basic, traditional design executed in a chunky rustic handspun. And as far as shawls go, you can see it's on the small side, almost in the shawlette category. So if I were to do anything different next time, I would make it a 3-skein shawl. 

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Be that as it may, I am ridiculously happy with the result, and am glad to have finally made myself a shawl.

Sadly though, I am not sure that I am any closer to getting over my shawlophobia. I want more shawls. I just wish someone else would knit them for me! A shawl-for-socks exchange, anyone?

Sigh. No, I know that I must do it myself. And I think I will again. Clearly, finding an exciting yarn is the key for me, and thankfully there is no shortage of that in the world these days. Frilly, fingering-weight shawl, I see you in my future... eventually! 

Are there things you love to wear but hate to knit? or vise-versa?

Also, here is a question: Do you think this shawl design is too basic/ generic to write up as a pattern?