Book Review: Classic Knit Shawls

Shawls have been in vogue for a number of years now - and what's not to like about them? They're warm, can be worn as kerchiefs or scarves, and can be very quick knits. One of the things I absolutely love about them is the math involved (I know, math nerd over here!).

Photo by Interweave

Photo by Interweave

Interweave has done it again with their book, Classic Knit Shawls. They brought together 20 beautiful, interesting and very different shawls into one wonderful book. Here are just 5 of our favorite patterns from its pages:

Photo by Interweave

Photo by Interweave

Ennid Laceweight Shawl by Lucinda Guy

I adore the simplicity of this shawl. A garter-stitch triangular shawl, it features a bobble knitted edging that makes this shawl stand out.

Recommended yarn: Breeze, Meridian, Wash My Lace

Photo by Interweave

Photo by Interweave

Diospyros Shawl by Andrea Jurgrau

The leaf motif on this shawl is intriguing and stunning, while the nupps and beading lend both texture and sparkle. Knit top down using short rows, this lovely shawl will not disappoint.

Recommended yarn: Squishy, Luster, Lunaris, Nebula, Haiku

Photo by Interweave

Photo by Interweave

Galax Shawl by Carol Feller

This curvy shawl has a beautiful edging with a zig-zag patterned body. Short rows help to add the body after the edging.

Recommended yarn: For Better or Worsted, It Could Be Worsted

Photo by Interweave

Photo by Interweave

Impasto Shawlette by Susanna IC

Who doesn't love colorwork? This fitted shawl is worked with slip-stitches and reminds me of waves at the beach. You could make your waves any color you like!

Recommended yarn: Cricket

Photo by Interweave

Photo by Interweave

Trillium Shawl by Manda Shah

This gorgeous lace half-circle shawl is knit top down, while the edging is worked perpendicular to the rest of the piece. The lacework is to die for!

Recommended yarn: Squishy, Luster, Lunaris, Nebula, Haiku 

Be sure to buy this book to check out more fantastic shawls! 

 

Pattern Spotlight: Ecliptic

Hello everyone out there! I am very excited to be guest posting today about my pattern, Ecliptic, which happens to be the cover shawl on my new book, A Garden of Shawls!

Before I get started on the shawl itself, I thought it might be fun to give you an intro as to where this self-publishing thing came from.

When I first started as a designer in 1998, my goal was to eventually end up with my own company producing books. Little did I know the internet would be what it is now! :) At that same time I had met my favorite designer, Terry Kimbrough, who had been at that point designing for many years (she actually started in her teens). She and I had talked a lot about how self-publishing was the way to go. She already back in the late 1990s could see the way the industry was trending. And I did self publish patterns back then. I would publish patterns that weren’t picked up in magazines, and I actually self-published 3 books myself in 2002-2003 - which you can see here.

I got a little sidetracked in the early 2000s and started designing primarily for books and magazine companies, but what I discovered over the years is that I like to do what I want to do. I don't like to be given a theme, or colors of the season. I prefer to design what is coming out of me at the time. I guess you could say I like having control over the entire process! :) In the last 2 years, I determined that this was the time to refocus and go back to my dream. In September 2016, I launched to the world Occhi Blue Press - my new book imprint. The first book, A Garden of Shawls, started pre-sales March 1st, just in time for National Crochet Month. And you will notice I am releasing far more indie patterns starting this year. I am shooting for 2 a month!

I have so many ideas in my head and on paper that I will be busy for years to come!

Let’s talk a little bit about Ecliptic! If you know anything about me and my background, you already know that I learned to crochet from my Italian grandmother, who learned to crochet from her grandmother in Italy. I have a strong background in crocheted Italian laces and for this book I really wanted to go back to my roots and use lace in new and interesting ways.

Ecliptic crocheted in Anzula Breeze, colorway Persimmon.

If you are not a lace person, consider this - you don’t have to use tiny thread and hooks to create late. In fact, in my beginning lace classes, I recommend using worsted weight yarns and a J or K hook to get started so that you can get a feel for it.

Ecliptic is born out of that idea. Sure, Anzula’s Breeze yarn is considered lace weight but I used a 3.00 mm crochet hook (between a C and a D) which is considered a much larger hook that a standard lace hook - usually is a size 6 steel at 1.75 mm. So right there I have removed one of the biggest fears crocheters have with lace. The hook is almost double the size!

Ecliptic is worked from the top down as most triangular shawls are. You start with a shell in the middle of the top edge, and then you gradually increase as you go. The entire shawl consists of triple crochet and chain stitches. Triple crochets are heavily used in Italian lace, and I used a simple shell motif that is just a 4 row repeat - one you can memorize easily! And the best part? If you want to make the shawl smaller or larger all you have to do is reduce or increase, respectively, the number of repeats before you make the edging. And the beauty of the edging is that it mimics the shawl pattern, but it isn't the same. More openwork shells as in traditional Italian laces are used to finish the shawl off. And the edging is just one last row! Easy-peasy!

Eliptic Karen Whooley

If all that doesn’t convince you - there is a section in the book that explains how you can use heavier weight yarns for ANY of the patterns in the book. So is Squishy more your speed? You can make this shawl using Squishy. Or what about It Could Be Worsted? You can use that too! You have options!

Ecliptic is one of my favorite shawls in the book. Why? The yarn. Who wouldn't want a spring shawl in a linen/silk blend? Breeze is so smooth and easy to crochet with. The stitch definition is beautiful as you can see from all the photos. And the best part is that even with a shawl made out of a dense crochet stitch, the shawl weighs next to nothing! Ecliptic will be the perfect topper for a summer night. Persimmon was my color of choice for this shawl, but with Anzula’s line up of colors you can chose your perfect color.

A Garden of Shawls is now available on my website. You can also purchase the book on Amazon.com (print and Kindle) iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

I hope that I have inspired you to make your own Ecliptic shawl. And if you do, let me know about it! I would love to see your finished project on Ravelry or you can always contact me anytime over at at my website!

-Karen

 

Meet the Yarn: Breeze

I popped onto the Anzula blog in late May without a proper introduction.  It actually didn’t occur to me until after I noticed how monochromatic the post was.  I tend to choose color that is either neutral or colorful and that was decidedly neutral.  So a bit about me, and a photo which shows me as my neutral and colorful self. 

My favorite thing about knitwear design (which includes crochet, although I don’t do that) is that I get to design the textile and the shape.  I have been doing fashion design as long as I can remember.  My passion shifted to knitwear in the 90's.  I have never been bitten by the spinning bug, and I am really only interested in yarn construction because of the impact it has on my designs.  Beginning in 2000, I began teaching design, merchandising, textiles, and product development classes at FIDM in San Francisco.  I have never let go of my interests in basic garment construction and pattern making, I have added a fascination with hand knitting and yarn.  Today those interests have me teaching others what I know, while I pursue an even deeper understanding of the inputs into knitwear design.  Look for classes on my website.  I sell my designs on Ravelry, Jill Wolcott Knits, LoveKnitting, and Craftsy. You might also see me on Instagram, where I have been having fun with the Pantone Color of the Day.

Breeze

65% Silk, 35% Linen
+/- 750 yd / 685 m
Lace Weight

Do you ever pick up a yarn and get truly surprised by it? I was so when I started to swatch in Breeze. When I am testing a yarn I knit up an introductory swatch in four stitch patterns to get a feel for what it does—or doesn’t—like to do. I’ve been doing this a while, and I love to swatch, so I am rarely very surprised by what happens on my needles, or even afterwards when I am blocking.  I might change my mind about the needle size, and occasionally the stitch pattern, but I am rarely surprised.

 

I sat down one evening to do my introductory swatch.  Good for me on US size 3(3.25mm) needles—I am a loose knitter.  Lots of rows in garter. Then I embarked on Stockinette.  I like texture and I am not a real fan of Stockinette. I’ve already chosen Breeze for a pattern that features lace and cables (mixed) in an otherwise Stockinette tank.  In another piece I’m throwing some rib into the mix.  But Breeze in Stockinette just took my breath away. 

What Makes Breeze?

Breeze is a pretty simple two-ply yarn.  It is a blend of silk (65%) and linen (35%).  Silk is the only filament fiber that is a non-manufactured fiber.  Produced by a silkworm, the fiber is protein based.  Linen is a long-staple cellulose fiber.  Breeze looks matte, and a little fuzzy, in the ball.  When handling a single length of yarn the subtle luster becomes evident, and you can feel the interest in the fibers.  In Breeze the silk seems to be staple lengths rather than a filament. The fiber blending creates a simple yarn that drapes beautifully, and is quite flat (not bouncy).  

What to Look For in Breeze

I went on to work seed stitch and 1x1 rib before embarking on my lace and cable pattern, first on US size 3(3.25mm), then on US size 5(3.75mm). In all stitches I got lovely drapey fabric. Although it can be pulled back into shape, this is yarn that is going to stretch. Work it to be very flat, almost like a woven fabric. It is going to stretch, and when doing so it will become narrower. This was proved in my swatches, after wet blocking and steam blocking, grow differently in each stitch pattern. The ribs I did, 1x1 and 2x2 looked great, but aren’t elastic. Seed stitch was quite pretty, but when I tried moss as a trim, it became meh and almost nonexistent.

A quick perusal of Ravelry shows 533 projects in Breeze.  Most have happy smiles! There are a few mis-matches of gauge or design, but mostly knitters and crocheters seems to appreciate the nature of this yarn and choose projects that would make them happy working it, and wearing it.  There are fabulous lace shawls, and some garments. Take the time to check your gauge.  Block it to get the real sense of what this yarn will do, then proceed to your own happy ending.

 

And just because, here’s a happy cat, enjoying a nice Breeze shawl!

Do you have a favorite thing you've made with Breeze or are you dreaming of using Breeze in a future project? Tell us about it in the comments below!

You can find more from Jill using these links:

Meet the Yarn: Milky Way
Jill's Ravelry page
www.JillWolcottKnits.com
Jill's Instagram 

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