This past week one of our knitters reached out with a special request: her son is getting married and she hopes to make a wedding shawl for her future daughter-in-law. While this is a very specific request, I couldn’t help but think of the versatility of it, and the fact that it’s seasonably appropriate. You see, I insist on believing that spring IS near – even though there are still several inches of snow on the ground! I’m looking forward to short sleeves, silk blouses, dresses… all of that. Thinking of Michele’s request, my wheels started thinking of wonderful hand-knit layers to complement springtime wardrobes.
Michele ended up pointing me in the directions of capes – or more specifically, loops that will hug the shoulders over a dress. I love these shapes, because they can be worn as cowls or capes. They can be worn as a solitary warm layer on a cool evening or over a coat in the bitter cold.
Starting here, I couldn’t help but think of the Churchmouse Mohair Bias Loop. This classic is versatile and modern. While Churchmouse originally wrote this pattern for a single strand of a lace-weight mohair at a loose gauge (giving you a diaphanous fabric), knitters around the world have put their on spin on it. That original version is undeniably bridal and feminine. However, at Wool & Grace we’ve been making this loop for years using a fingering-weight yarn held with a lace-weight strand of mohair like Shibui’s Silk Cloud. Our store sample is a bright and punchy shade of pink that uses Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze and Tosh Merino Light. At the recommended gauge, your could even go so far as to make it using something like Blue Sky’s Techno for a warm and wintry version!
Michele had mentioned that her future-DIL loves cables, so the Solstice Cape jumped out to me. This beautiful cape features lace and cables. Knit up in a dk-weight yarn, you want to work with a fiber that will bloom. I couldn’t help but think of using Blue Sky’s Eco Cashmere. Or, use a combination of Shibui fibers like Birch + Pebble or Birch + Silk Cloud. Once again, this piece can be worn as a cape over a very special dress, or it can be worn as a cowl, looped once or twice. Thinking of it like this once again makes this sort of piece wonderful to wear for a very special day, but also a piece that will have a lot of legs.
One more lovely cape worth mentioning is Laura Aylor’s Whisper Me Words. This simple piece has a lace border and is knit up at a loose gauge using a lace-weight yarn, making a beautiful semi-sheer fabric. For a piece with these beautiful characteristics, consider working with Brooklyn Tweed’s Vale or Shibui’s Lunar or Cima. Also think of this gauge as giving you room for flexibility, and also consider using a heavier yarn here. The stockinette fabric is a great place to feature a hand-dyed yarn, whether it be something like Baah’s La Jolla or Tosh Merino Light (a new big shipment just arrived), or feel free to mix up fibers to make a more substantial fabric.
Michele’s request made a special Lori Versaci pattern jump to mind: Paper Cranes. I’ve always loved this asymmetrical, perforated shawl, but Versaci designed it for her daughter’s wedding day which it makes it all the more appropriate. I think this piece functions beautifully year-round. It’s eyelets make it seasonally appropriate for spring and summer layering, but you can wear it as a scarf throughout the cold months. Paper Cranes calls for a fingering-weight yarn, so consider anything like Tosh Merino Light, Baah’s La Jolla, Brooklyn Tweed’s Peerie, Cozette or Fern (for wool-free versions) – to name a few. If size isn’t critical for you, look at different weights of yarn. It’s a wrap, and it’s nice if it’s even a little bigger, right?
I can’t help but mention Calla, a pattern in issue 7 of Laine Magazine (which is back on our shelves at Wool & Grace)! It’s cabled motif resembles Calla Lilies and is positively bridal. A piece like this will be a bit warmer, as its written for a dk-weight or light-worsted weight yarn. It would be totally divine knit up in Blue Sky’s Eco-Cashmere. Working with a yarn like Criative DK will make it stretch across the seasons effortlessly, while Blue Sky’s Baby Alpaca will be a sublimely soft piece with a gorgeous feminine drape. Also consider something like Juniper Moon’s Herriot or even HiKoo’s Sueno Worsted.
One more beautiful wrap is a lace piece by Kate Davies, Fantoosh. I love the lace-fan motif of this beautiful shawl. I can see it draped over bare shoulders as easily as I can see it wrapped over a winter coat. It’s striking and simple all at once. Think of knitting this beautiful shawl up in anything like Shibui’s Cima, Pebble or Lunar, Brooklyn Tweed’s Vale, Peerie or Loft, Knit One Crochet Too’s Cozette or a semi-solid hand-dyed yarn from Baah or Madeline Tosh.
There’s a vast selection of shawls out there on Ravelry, and these are the pieces that piqued my interest as versatile but special layers. These pieces can carry you through the seasons and suit a variety of occasions. They may be heirlooms, but you can wear them any day. Go explore for yourself on Ravelry, or stop by and see us for more wonderful ideas!