The shawl

Well, I’m no shrinking violet when it comes to achievements, and this is one I’m very pleased with so I’m giving it a whole post of its own.  I think it deserves one.

The first time I knitted this shawl many years ago , I think it was for my sister’s first son  (though I may be misremembering that – the passage of time seems to shrink my memory of time spans).  I did one ready for oldest son (soon to be 30) which was then also used for youngest son, and two at different times for my mum.  I also did one for our god-daughter.

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When I heard that the first of our great nephews / nieces was to be born this month, I really wanted to celebrate them by knitting this shawl again.  But I seriously doubted my ability to do so.  I haven’t tackled anything similar for at least 20 years, and nothing at all complicated.

On the other hand, the occasion seemed to call for an effort.  They live in Australia, and I wanted to give a gift that was traditionally British, to celebrate that part of their heritage.

I discovered that Great British Yarns, an online yarn business actually based very close to where I live, stocks the very wool I wanted (and had used for some of those earlier shawls).   I still had the original pattern.  I contacted Sharon at GBY, and bought the yarn, or at least, the few balls she had in my chosen colour.  She was so helpful, and we had a lovely chat about all things knitting and a few things family – a pleasure to deal with her, and to support a local business.

I made a start, and then hit an obstacle – Sharon hadn’t been able to get hold of the rest of the yarn I needed.

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First time around

As I had fallen out of love with the original colour along the way, and the central panel had turned out to be much easier to knit than I expected, I decided to cut my losses and start again, this time with natural cream.  She had plenty of this yarn, and this time I bought enough to finish it (a guestimate, based on weighing one of the earlier ones I’d knitted but which had been done with different yarn).

(I do have a plan for that first attempt, but that’s for another time).

And now, it’s done.  It was off the needles last month, but it took me a while to get round to blocking and pressing it.  As usual, I put it off and put it off, thinking it would take me ages, whereas in reality it took just an hour.

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I have no idea how you’re meant to do this, but I do it by laying sheets and duvet covers on the carpet, then pinning out the shawl (with a pin into each ‘point’ of the outer border), doing it by eye and adjusting it afterwards as needed.  A wetted tea towel and a hot iron provide the steam.

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After this treatment the shawl looks completely different.  I’m thrilled to bits with it, and I really hope that they will be too.  Contrary to how it looks, my experience of using this shawl is that it is actually pretty hardy, and I used it a lot with both our sons when they were tiny.

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And in case you’re reading this and thinking ‘oh I could never do something as complicated as that’, well actually – if you can knit and purl and follow a pattern, you can.  The true genius lies with the person who wrote the pattern.  Like many things in life, making it is a lot easier than you would think.  Honestly, it is.

Next stop, to the Post Office to send it on its way.  Though I’d prefer to wait until the baby is born – any day, any minute now!

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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8 Responses to The shawl

  1. Marian says:

    It’s beautiful, Deborah! And I completely agree with the thinking behind “Like many things in life, making it is a lot easier than you would think”. This has been my experience as well — for years I avoided patterns with cables, because I thought they were too difficult … turns out they are actually very easy! Knitting provides many useful lessons/metaphors for life, doesn’t it? 🙂


  2. Nella Logan says:

    So, so beautiful. What a piece of work! Well done you!


  3. Janet says:

    That is a beautiful shawl, you can be very proud of it!
    My daughter is expecting her first child later this year and I would love to make something like this, can you tell me roughly how many hours knitting it took?

    I am enjoying your forays into retirement, I am a few years ahead and we followed a similar path, lots of little things. It comes highly recomended


    • Hi Janet, thank you so much for stopping by. We’re very privileged aren’t we, to have this time of retirement while we still have plenty of energy and enthusiasm left in us.

      How exciting to be looking forward to a grandchild. That must be just the best.
      As for how long it took me to knit the shawl, to be honest it’s hard to say but I allowed roughly a month for each of the 5 sections (centre panel, 4 border panels, and took far less for each. The way this one is done is to do the centre panel first, then the first border, then the outside edge, then pick up stitches along one side and do the second border then the second outside edge, and repeat that for the other two edges. As the pattern has you grafting the seam joins as you go, the only tiny bit of seeing up to do is to join the last outside edge to the third outside edge, and I figured out a way to graft them together as well.
      I’m not someone who sits and knits all day, so I did this either in the evening in front of the TV or with the radio, or occasionally a couple of daytime hours in between other things. I reckon if pushed I could do one in three months. Or maybe even less – but that would be going some, and mean changing my lifestyle. But if I was about to have a grandchild, well I think my priorities would shift a bit!


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