I volunteered to be on the planning committee for the musical at my kids’ school for next year. I have no idea why I did this. I hate committees, meetings and I’m not really into theater or musicals. Twinges of regret started to overcome me as I sat down at the first meeting. Why did I do this? Then, another parent volunteer arrived wearing a deliciously cozy shrug cardigan. It looked like nothing more than a circular piece of knit fabric, joined at the sleeves with ribbing around. This woman is so chic and gorgeous and my wheels started turning. Questions like “How can I knit that?” and “Can I pull off that comfy and stylish look, also?” started running through my head. See! There was a point to my random musical participation! Knitting inspiration!
I delved further into the world of hand-knit shrugs and I found that a lot of them aren’t tricky at all. Very often, they are knit as a large rectangle, with a seam at each short end to create a sleeve opening. That said, some shaping and finishing will make for a better fitting shrug. I found a bunch of very cool shrug patterns. Some are simple and some are less so, but they are all the sort of piece you want to melt into. Whether you’re wearing sweatpants or a dress, they can add effortless style to your look.
Midstream is a part of a new collection of patterns from Kate Davies Designs – knits for beginners to add to their collection of knitting skills and techniques. Midstream is worked side-to-side as a large rectangle with a slip stitch texture. It’s folded into an envelope shape and joined with a 3-needle bind-off. Edges are picked up and stitched around the body and sleeve hems. Midstream calls for an aran-weight wool, and some gorgeous options include Blue Sky’s Extra, Juniper Moon Fourteen or Simpliworsted.
Fold & Turn is constructed similarly to Midstream, but worked in stockinette stitch. This one looks a lot like the one Angela wore to the musical meeting, and I like it worn in generous proportions as pictured above. That said, you’ll see a lot of other knitters wear it with much less ease. This is one of the simplest of the shrug designs I’ll mention today, and this will be a good time to feature a gorgeous yarn. Fold & Turn also calls for an Aran weight yarn, so you can use Extra or Fourteen as mentioned above. However, with all that stockinette stitch (and at its gauge of 17 stitches/4”, you could consider a yarn that will give the fabric a lot of character like Shelter, Madeline Tosh Vintage or Malabrigo Rios.
One more shrug with super simple construction is the Hylla Cardigan from Vogue Knitting’s Winter 2018/2019 issue. I love the texture on this (it’s a lot like the texture on Sarah’s Alongshore cardigan) and will create a lighter-weight shrug. This calls for a sport-weight yarn but you have some room to play. Check out Sueño or Criative DK as options. I’d also consider Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft or Peerie as good options for this shrug. For an all-seasons version, try Rowan’s Cotton Cashmere. Since I’d want this piece to have some drape, I’d make sure my knitted fabric isn’t too tight.
Bristol Ivy’s Maeve has a beautiful cut and is adorned with a modern cable motif along the fronts. The discontinued yarn this project calls for is a dk-weight, so how about looking at a yarn like Blue Sky’s Baby Alpaca or Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor. HiKoo’s Sueño or Criative DK are also beautiful options that will give this piece a hint of sheen and a bit more drape.
Let’s take a look at some delightfully diaphanous shrugs. Volute is a wonderful, older pattern from Shellie Anderson written for Shibui’s Silk Cloud. Most of the piece is worked in Silk Cloud, but the wrist hems are worked in Cima. You can also knit up this sophisticated, dressy shrug in Pebble. That said, an incredible new yarn from Shibui is being released in about a week… and this knitter is thinking about knitting up Volute in this new mystery yarn.
When I stopped by the shop earlier today, Patty showed me the project one of our knitters is working on: the Pappus Shrug from Midori Hirose. This gorgeous little shrug is a lady-like shrug that uses a silk-mohair blend at a loose gauge to make a whisper of a shrug. While you could totally knit this up using Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze or Shibui Silk Cloud on its own, you can also mix up fibers. As a fuzz-lover, I might mix one of these with another lace-weight yarn like Pebble. The fabric will still be open and gauzy, but it will have a little more heft (and be easier to work with). I can’t wait to see how this gorgeous little piece knits up by our knitter!
These shrugs range from trim to generous, but they are effortless pieces to layer throughout the year. As I write this, I’m wearing one of my own shrugs, the Inversion cardigan I knit up using Noro’s Tennen years ago. These pieces don’t get old and always feel good. While there may be a little technique involved in finishing (it’s always well worth it), these are largely made up of a bunch of easy knitting. All in all, we’ll think it’ll be that much easier for you to shrug off the small stuff when you’re wearing a fabulous shrug like one of these.