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Classic Knit Shawls + A Giveaway!

UPDATE 7/31/17: Congratulations to winner Christina F! Check your email!


Like many knitters, I love shawl knitting.

It’s funny when non knitters ask me why I like to make them because they have this preconceived notion of little old ladies bent over their needlework, hair in a bun, sitting on a rocking chair, slippers on their feet, wrapped in a shawl. Well, actually, I do all of those things, but shawls are such a great project because of their portability and versatility (and I’m not that old). I never wrap them around my shoulders but instead put them around my front like a bandana and wrap them around my neck that way – there are so many ways to wear them! With all the incredible yarn and pattern choices for shawls, I think we knitters look hip, crafty, and definitely not that preconceived notion of an old school grandmother.

Interweave recently sent me a copy of their new book, Classic Knit Shawls: 20 Timeless Designs Featuring Lace, Cables, and More (Interweave Press, 2017, $22.99). I was delighted with the patterns featured (all previously published in Interweave books and magazines) and recognized a few that I had dog-eared in my magazine or added to my Ravelry queue previously.

I particularly like that this book covers all sorts of skill levels, techniques, yarn weights, and occasions. The photographs and charts are large so you can actually see the stitch patterns and read the charts with ease. There are multiple images of each project and a brief write-up on each. There are lots of familiar designer names as well as a few I wasn’t familiar with, making this an exciting, well-rounded collection.

Kerry Bogert, the Editorial Director of Craft Books at Interweave, was kind enough to sit down with me and answer of few questions…


Tanis Gray (TG): This is a marvelous collection of 20 shawls that have been curated from books and magazines throughout the years from Interweave. Why these 20? How did you narrow it down? 

Kerry Bogert (KB): Great question! We have a lot of amazing shawls in the Interweave library, so it was tough to narrow it down. We looked at a few different things when we were making selections, the most important being what are the types of shawls knitters are enjoying making right now. We see tons of gorgeous colorwork shawls at the top of Ravelry’s “What’s How Now” list, so we were sure to include projects like Ship That and Orangery. Lace is always incredibly popular as well, so projects like Grand Army Plaza, Lale, and The Purple can be found here too.

Grand Army Plaza Shawl by Melissa Wehrle

Ship That Shawl by Megi Burci

TG: Knitters are obsessed with shawl knitting – myself included. Why do you think this is?

KB: I don’t know about others, but for me, and some of the gals in my knitting group, shawls are perfect for travel knitting, trying out new techniques on a smaller scale, and showing off favorite skeins of special yarn. It can be difficult to stuff a sweater’s worth of yarn in a carry on bag, but a shawl project is perfect to keep the needles busy on long flights or when stuck in terminals. And who wants to try a really complex cable for the first time on a full size garment? Really, a shawl provides the opportunity to try something new without a lot of pressure. Since so many shawls need just 2-3 skeins of yarn (or just 1 one some cases!) I love using special skeins for them. 

Darjeeling Shawl by Joan Forgione

TG: Do you remember when you knit your first shawl? What was it like and what yarn did you use?

KB: Yes, I do! And even though my swatch said I had gauge, it turned out so small. HA! I made a Color Affection Shawl and adored every moment of stitching it, it just wasn’t that big when I was done. I’ve learned so much since that first shawl project and they turn out the right size these days.

Ilme’s Autumn Triangle Shawl by Nancy Bush

TG: I appreciate books that offer a wide variety of techniques and this book is no exception. Lace, cables, short rows, texture – this book has it all! What’s your favorite shawl knitting technique and why?

KB: Oh, I love short-rows and color blocking. They’re my favorite to combine together. The interesting shapes and effects that can be achieved are always stunning. 

The Purple Shawl by Andrea Jurgrau

TG: After looking through this book, there were a handful of shawls that I decided I MUST KNIT NOW! My favorites are Corrina Ferguson’s Lale Shawl and Andrea Jurgrau’s The Purple Shawl. Do you have a favorite in this collection and why?

KB: It’s so hard to choose!! But I lean towards Trillium by Manda Shah. And that’s not just because the model reminds me of Rachel Barry from Glee. The lace is just stunning and the Anzula yarn is scrumptious. 

TG: How do you feel about beaded shawls? I for one am very pro-bead.

KB: They’re beautiful and I wish people made them more. I hear so many complaints around how challenging adding beads to shawls can be, but it’s really not that hard and they can add such amazing detail to the finished project. Full disclosure though, my background is in jewlery arts, so I know the massive spectrum of colors that seed beads come in, so I’m bias. I like having a new way to combine two loves. Yarn stash met bead stash… I think you two are going to get along smashingly. 

Trillium Shawl by Amanda Shah

TG: Do you see the shawl trend continuing on forever or something else taking its place?

KB: The big trend right now is definitely color-shifting shawls with gradients and other color blends. I see that continuing for a while.

TG: That’s good to hear since my book coming out in the fall is all about gradient knitting! Neutrals or Brights for shawls in your opinion?

KB: Oh that depends on the occasion!  I recently finished a bridal shawl in a wool/silk blend in the crispest white. I kind of don’t want to give it to the bride at her shower in a few weeks. I want it for myself. In general though, I tend to favor brights. I love the pop of color they can add to your outfit. 

The Orangery Shawl by Carol Feller

TG: What advice would you offer to someone who is afraid to take the leap from scarf to shawl knitting?

KB: Pick a shawl that has a large field of garter stitch. You know how to knit, right?! So you can start knowing something you’re really comfortable with and add your courage will grow as you knit towards a beautiful edging. Darjeeling by June Forgione would be perfect for that. 

The Return Journey Shawl by Lisa Shroyer

TG: What’s next on your shawl knitting list?

KB: I recently added Andrea Mowry’s Rose Gold to my queue. It’s two color brioche and includes some color fading as well. I can’t wait to cast it on for this fall. 

Thanks so much for answering all my questions, Kerry!

And now for the giveaway! Interweave is giving away a copy of this lovely new book here on my blog. Answer the trivia question below correctly and you’ll be automatically entered in to win. A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, July 28th. Contest open to US residents only.

How many staircases does Hogwarts have?

Happy shawl knitting!


Paradise Fibers Yarn of the Month Club!

I LOVE getting surprises in the mail! It’s like Christmas or a birthday when a box full of unknown goodness arrives on your doorstep with an air of mystery surrounding it.

One such package arrived on my stoop and I couldn’t wait to open it! Paradise Fibers out of Spokane, WA, has a Yarn of the Month Club, and July’s box arrived last night! I was delighted to be asked to do the reveal and find a skein of Yamhill (434 yards, 75% superwash Corriedale/25% nylon), a fingering weight in a club-exclusive color way Crocodile Tears (huzzah for green, my favorite color!) and a Lotus mini skein of Wild Watermelon (48 yards, 60% merino superwash/20% yak/20% silk – luxurious). Both skeins offer up enough yardage to knit the Vanmelon Hat, the pattern included in the box. My watermelon-obsessed husband – who happened to be eating a watermelon when I opened the box – was very excited about the colors!

What I liked about this club was the newsletter itself, giving me an explanation of the fibers in the yarns (I always find fiber content and breed-specific info very interesting), as well as info on the colors (the green is the Pantone color of the year). While I don’t foresee myself knitting the hat pattern provided in the box, the green is gorgeous and summery and is calling out for me to make it into a lacy shawl of some sort. Tucked in the bottom of the box was a very handy pair of tiny scissors called Little Gems – perfect for travel knitting. We do a lot of driving in the summer and I do a lot of knitting on the go, so small blades that are easy to bring with me and tuck in a pocket or small bag when I fly are a must. I loved the mystery element of this club. Not knowing what kind of fiber or color I was getting had me anxiously awaiting the box’s arrival. I love knitting surprises and was not disappointed!

I’m always wondering what to get my knitting friends for the holidays, and the Yarn of the Month Club would be a great gift. Each monthly box is $31.95 (US, includes shipping) and includes a custom dyed yarn by Paradise Fibers or other brands like MadTosh or Ancient Arts, a supporting pattern, a newsletter, a fun goodie, plus a 10% off regular-priced yarn purchase through Paradise Fibers. If you post pics of your yarn box on Instagram or Ravelry, you have chances to win Paradise Points that can be used for future purchases.

Thank you to Paradise Fibers, who sent me this box in exchange for my honest review.

Hungry For… Felt?

Check out this amazing convenience store made entirely out of felted objects! I get hungry just looking at the pictures! Original article here.

Artist Lucy Sparrow Opens an Entire Convenience Store of Handmade Felt Products in Manhattan 

If you have a late-night hankering for some felty gefilte fish or a bottle of fermented fabric, be sure to stop by 8 ‘Til Late, the newest temporary installation by British artist Lucy Sparrow known for her felt recreations of everyday objects. Located in Manhattan at The Standard, High Line, the bodega is filled from floor to ceiling with thousands of objects you might find at a typical corner store from breakfast cereals, a deli counter brimming with meats, frozen foods, and spirits—all made from felt and a bit of paint. And just like a real store, every last thing is for sale.

Over the last few years Sparrow has exhibited her felt objects in galleries and art fairs around the world including Art Basel, Scope Miami, and the New York Affordable Art Fair. 8 ‘Til Late is a companion piece to her 2014 installation in London titled The Corner Shop with a similar concept but with Eurocentric products. We have word that lines stretched around the block the last few days and every object in the store has since sold. While originally scheduled to be open through June 30th, the exhibition is ending early, specifically 10pm tonight. So if you’re nearby, now’s your chance. Maybe?

You can see the finer details of some 400 individual items from 8 ‘Til Late on Sparrow’s website.