Terra, Plus What’s Great About Shawls

Do you think ‘grandmotherly’ when you think of shawls? I used to, until I started spending more time on Ravelry and saw hundreds of truly beautiful hand-knit shawls. I finally realized the secret – wearing a shawl is how we can get away with wearing a blanket in public! A beautiful blanket, of course, but still a blanket. Great if your office is unpredictable with the heat and air-conditioning. Just wrap a pretty wrap around your shoulders and your hands are free to type away!

The other great thing about shawls is the fact that they always fit. No worrying about tight upper arms or if it works with the clothing underneath. It always works! Plus, shawls are great when worn as a dramatic scarf.

Ok, enough trying to sell you on shawls. The point is, I’d always considered shawls for either grandmotherly types, or the very dramatic – think little black dress with an elegant jewel-toned wrap – and now I’m sold on them as part of everyday life. I like a little drama in my regular life and I certainly like being warm.

So – I knit a shawl!

It’s a simple, triangle-shaped shawl (Terra from Brooklyn Tweed) done in worsted-weight wool.

Most of the shawl is done in a garter ridge pattern (a lot like garter stitch, but with a few purl rows in there for interest) with a more detailed pattern at the edges.

When I finished this project, I wondered ‘will I actually wear this?’ Then I wrapped it around my shoulders and decided, yes, absolutely. It’s springy and hugs my shoulders with soft, wooly warmth. Now I understand the allure of shawls! Not only that, it works as a very warm, very snuggly scarf. Great over a tan, or black, or grey winter coat.

Ravelry notes with links to the pattern and yarn here.

What do you think about shawls for this day and age, yes or no? A little bit of glamour for every day life? Lovely but for special occasions only? (With the amount of shawls being knit on Ravelry I have to assume people are wearing them for more than just special occasions, yet I rarely see anyone wearing a shawl in real life!)

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ve finally finished unpacking and getting my new office space set up. Ready to start sewing and everything. Photos to follow, of course!

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46 Responses to Terra, Plus What’s Great About Shawls

  1. Stephanie September 14, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    I just cast on a cropped cardigan but my second choice was a shawl. I think I need one for this winter. I love blankets. :)

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Me too! My new office is much colder than my old one and it’s so nice to wrap up in it. It makes an awesome, huge scarf too!

  2. Shannon September 14, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Beautiful work! And that color!

    I’ve been eyeing the Bottom-Up Birch shawl on Ravelry, after having come to a similar conclusion about this basically being an excuse to wear a blanket around! I dream of it in a floaty, lacey warm cream yarn. I even ordered a bunch of Debbie Bliss Angel yarn, but then it was backordered, and I just canceled the order. But now I’m motivated to try again!

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Ooh, pretty! I looked it up on Ravelry, it’s gorgeous. It would be soft and floaty in lace-weight, just like you dream of! In cream it would go with everything, too. Love it!

  3. Marloes September 14, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    I wear them quite often and in winter almost daily… With my coat outside or inside when it is cold. In the classrooms with the most unpredictable heating. But around here people wear a lot of scarves even in the summer, I just wear hand knitted ones!

  4. Rachel September 14, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    Oh! That is absolutely beautiful! Actually, there are a few old fashioned items of clothing I’d love to see make a comeback, and shawls are definitely high on that list. How difficult was it to knit? My skill pretty much starts and ends at casting on/off, plain and purl… but I’d love to give this a try.

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 9:45 am #

      It wasn’t too hard. Here are the hard parts:

      Kitchener stitch – you have to graft the top stitches together. this is not impossible but a little tricky to do! I watch a youtube video every time and follow it along with her.
      This is the one – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7jIzwO5Nv4

      The lace pattern – after all the long knit and purl rows which is most of the shawl, the last couple of inches are lace. Knit 2 together and yarnovers. It’s a little tricky but not terrible. Just go slow and count your stitches to make sure you didn’t make a mistake. (I know there are a couple of errors in mine but I just did an extra yarnover or an extra knit 2 together on the next row to fix it..)

      It’s a little more challenging than just knitting and purling but nothing impossible and plenty of videos online that can help. Good luck if you give it a try!

      • Rachel September 23, 2012 at 4:29 am #

        That knitting channel looks really useful for expanding what I feel brave enough to attempt. Really appreciate the tips (and encouragement to give it a try) – thank you!

  5. Claire September 14, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Great color and great work !
    I am kind of jealous because I started knitting recently like you (still in my first year) and the only shawl I knitted was a complete disaster. I failed the lace part. Yours is so neat and so beautiful. I really have to try again, maybe with the Terra pattern, it looks really nice.

  6. Nadia Lewis September 14, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    I am *always* in a shawl in winter!

  7. Jessica September 14, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    I’ve probably knit half a dozen or so lace weight shawls, and while I love making them, (my sister says I like maximum effort for minimum output…ha!) I have trouble finding a place to wear them. Sometimes I’ll wear them when I go to weddings or other special occasions, but that’s about it.

    Maybe something in fingering or heavier yarn would help make a shawl more wearable for me.

  8. Seraphinalina September 14, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I love shawls in the summer. You know how evenings can be cool, but you don’t really want a coat? I have shawls that were my mothers, my husbands aunt, and it’s like getting a hug from them every time. Generally I do wear them for fancy events, but they are a bit bulky for me to wear day to day. I have two that are just cheap purchases that live at my desks at two offices I work out of. One has huge swings in AC temperatures and the other has one meeting room that is always really cold. I love you finished shawl, that colour would work well in my wardrobe.

  9. Jessie K September 14, 2012 at 9:18 am #

    I’m with Jessica—I’ve made a few lace weight shawls because I think they’re so beautiful, but I then can never figure out where to wear them. I’ve now realized that if I make a smaller shawlette it can pass as a scarf, but still have enough width to be drapy around my shoulders. And I do love a good winter scarf!

    Maybe I should channel my desire to knit a super-delicate massive shawl, and make a decorative table cover or bedspread or something instead. That way it would be seen everyday, instead of hanging forgotten in the back of my closet.

    Lovely work on the Terra shawl (and congrats on the Threads article—that’s so awesome!)

  10. MarrieB September 14, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Lovely shawl! I hadn’t seen this pattern before, another one to add to the queue. :)
    I love knitting shawls, and wearing them too. I usually make smaller sized ones and wear them as scarves. I like using sock/fingering weight yarn to make them, they turn out warm enough without being too bulky. I wear my shawls all the time in the winter, and even sometimes in the summer when the air conditioning in my office gets to be too much!

  11. Reyna Lay September 14, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    I love shawls, but it depends on the shawl. This shawl is gorgeous! Great job! I would totally rock that in spring and fall!


  12. colleen September 14, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    That is so beautiful and such a great color. I’m going to check it out after work today. I made a very quick and easy shawl last winter and I WEAR IT ALL THE TIME. it’s the Tess d’ubervilles shawl on Ravelry, and actually I’ve been watching a recent incarnation of “Little Dorrit” on Netflix and she is wearing one, to. I find myself substituting it for a robe and in the summer when my air conditioning is just too cold I wear it in my office (along with my Uggs)! I’m making a new one now with Madeline Tosh DK and I so love the process. I love how you don’t get bored when you do lacy shawls.

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 10:46 am #

      I think I’ll be wearing this all the time too – so comfy! Looked up the pattern, that looks cosy and simple to make. Good idea too, to tie it under the arms. I think mine’s long enough for that!
      Loooove Madelinetosh DK – I’m working on a sweater in it as well and it feels so nice to work with, strong yet soft.

  13. maddie September 14, 2012 at 10:42 am #

    Isn’t it funny how our eyes change and we come to see something we once thought was ‘grandmotherly’ into something that is super chic? Your shawl is definitely super chic and not ‘grandmotherly’

  14. PerlenDiva September 14, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    I have several shawls ;-) One is definetely special occasions (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/perlendiva/tuch-shawl-filigrano), another, my small, super soft, ultra-light “Heaven” is my favourite from spring through summer (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/perlendiva/198-yds-of-heaven), and then I have a few sock-yarn weight shawls for the colder days. I love them and wear them all the time ;-) But I noticed I like the smaller, triangulars best, or, alternatively, the huuuge blanket type ones – but those are reserved for cuddling up on the sofa only ;-)

    Oh, my Granny asked me to knit her a “heaven”-type shawl for Christmas. It’s great that now I can knit something nice for me when she used to knit the cutest sweaters for me when I was a child.

    Love your shawl, 100% “my” colour ;-)

  15. Jenny September 14, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    They’re everywhere in RTW , much more fun to knit your own.

  16. learningnewtricks September 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    That’s no granny shawl! It’s lovely and a shawl I would proudly and boldly wear. Not only do you sew, make gorgeous patterns, but you also knit beautifully.

  17. Jane September 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Beautiful shawl. I often knit very small shawls, just big enough to go around my neck. I find they are invaluable in winter to provide an additional bit of insulation and they look great with shirts or tucked into the tops of cardigans. On really cold days I even wear them under a larger scarf to ensure absolutely no cold air sneaks in where it shouldn’t! I probably wouldn’t wear a larger shawl because I don’t like bits of fabric flapping around me (I always do up cardigans and jackets) but I can see the attraction of wearing a blanket!

  18. Becky September 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    I can see the appeal, and yours is certainly not granny, but I question how practical they would be in my day-to-day life. My hands get cold way faster than my shoulders, so I tend to wear a lot of sweaters (so I can pull the sleeves down over my hands!). And I haven’t worn a lot of fashion scarves, and am often worried about them getting caught on my flute while I’m teaching/practicing! I might give it a shot sometime, though, because there really are a lot of beautiful patterns out there. And my flute gets caught on my sweaters often enough, too.

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      I think I’ll be wearing it *with* a sweater when it gets colder. It’s been nice to be able to take either the shawl or the jacket but pretty soon, it’ll be in addition to a coat and a sweater! It would be a pain if you’re practicing, if it comes unwrapped and falls off. You’d probably want to pin it. Better for snuggling in front of the TV or wearing dramatically like a scarf, I’d say.

  19. Lorraine September 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Your shawl looks beautiful. My daughter, who is 16, just explained the same reasons for making shawls to me the other day as she was casting on to make her second one. Looking forward to seeing more from you both :)

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Very cool that your 16-yr old daughter is knitting shawls! I’ll be making another one, perhaps a different pattern, this fall sometime.

  20. Caroline September 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

    Wow, that’s gorgeous! Wish I could knit…

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      Oh, I thought you did knit! Or maybe I’m wrong, it’s possible.

  21. Lucy September 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    That looks cosy! I might be tempted to do one for myself next winter. I love that ‘wearing a blanket’ – years ago I knitted a poncho (two very large garter stitch rectangles, kniited in chunky yarn, sewn together to make a v-neck), but I used a cheap acrylic in an, ahem, vibrant shade of magenta/violet. At the time, it was a foray into knitting because I was bored and I cheaped out because I wasn’t sure if I’d follow through with the project. It’s lovely and warm, despite my partner calling it ‘ghastly’! (I made it before we got together, and I’m sure he was wondering what he’d got himself into the first time I brought THAT baby out!) A shawl might achieve the same thing, without me having to endure rude comments all winter…

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

      Plus, a shawl gives more wearing options than a poncho. You can tie it in a knot, wear it over the shoulders, wear the ‘V’ in front like a bandana, wear it wrapped over one side, with a shawl pin, with a vintage brooch – so many ideas! And bonus, you won’t be cold and therefore stealing his coat..

  22. Sue September 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I still have my 70’s hand made shawl which I wore in my Hippy days with all my pretty flowery dresses. It was very pretty and practical back then when I was younger. Great to see the shawl making a comeback but probably wouldn’t look as good on me now that I am approaching 60!

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      I think it would just as great on a 60 year old! Like Kristen below said, it’s all in how you style it. Colour makes a difference too, I’d actually started this shawl first in an oatmeal-grey colour because I thought it would go with everything, but it felt so bland. Wear it like a large, dramatic scarf and I bet it would look fantastic!

  23. Kristen September 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    So pretty! I’m so glad you answered Rachel and linked to that video, my “skills” include casting on, plain knit and purl, too. This type of shawl might make it up to the top of my list for a first actual project (I’ve only knitted little test bits and swatches that I pull right back out).

    I’d have to be in the right mood to wear a shawl out running errands or something, but I’d certainly love one to wrap around myself at work and/or at home. In fact, I have two very large, wide “scarves” that are really more of wraps or shawls which I use to layer over my lap during winter at work. Also, I think what you wear shawls WITH makes more of a difference in how “granny” they look.

    • Tasia September 14, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Totally, what you wear with the shawl makes a big difference! A long prairie-style dress and flats is totally different than a dressy trench and great boots.

      Plain knit and purl is most of the shawl, just a bit of fairly easy lace at the end. I did a sewn bind off like they recommended which is so easy if you can hand-sew. In fact I quite liked the control of hand-sewing the edge instead of knitting it off. Good luck!

  24. Catherine September 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I’ve been wearing shawls for a few years now. I’ve crotchet 2 shawls (both in the same pattern from Jo Sharp). It was quick and easy and I always get comments when worn….much to the comment of “I thought shawls were just for grannies”. Knit Issue 8, page 20. http://www.josharp.com/patterns/book-preview-slideshows/default.aspx

  25. Joyce Wilson September 14, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    This is BEAUTIFUL!!!! You are such a talented young lady. I sure enjoy your posts.

  26. Rhonda September 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

    Beautiful shawl. I’m headed to Ravalry. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Rachelle September 15, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Great job Tasia! I’ve been wanting to make a shawl for about 6 months now. My favorite pattern is Haruni by Emily Ross (http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/haruni). She has many other beautiful shawl patterns too. I’m hoping to make one for this winter! I definitely think shawls are underrated. I like how they can be worn as a wraparound scarf as well.

  28. Bella September 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    What a color, Tasia! I wear them at work all the time (but mostly pashminas) because it seems in the A/C I’m always cold; in the winter I’m usually dressed warmer so it’s not such a big deal. My co-workers do, too.

    They look great, I think. And I do see them a lot out and about in DC…

  29. Debbie September 15, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I almost bought a shawl today, grey with little crocheted flowers on, but it was a little too pricey (almost $100). I will take a look at some of the Ravely patterns now that I have seen your beautiful shawl. Shawls are ideal for in between seasons as well as offices where the AC keeps things a little too cool!

  30. Renay September 16, 2012 at 5:55 am #

    I love shawls. And this one is so lovely…what a colour! Glad you are back from holiday Tasia :-)

  31. Virginia@sewing machine September 17, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    Great work Tasia. :-) Knitting is a fun way to express ourselves. I’ve been knitting since last year but I don’t think I can pull something like this one. I only tried making a coin purse and cellphone holder.

  32. Lholy-chan September 20, 2012 at 4:07 am #

    I absolutely love shawls, I always have. They don’t seem ‘grandmotherly’ to me, but rather elegant. I prefer the large ones, inside which you can really wrap yourself. Give me a large, triangle-shaped shawl with nice motifs (but not too airy) in a slightly chunky yarn, and I’m happy. :) I also like the more delicate ones, but I feel they won’t be as much for warmth as for decoration. I wish I had the knowledge and courage to knit myself some shawl. Yours looks nice. It’s great that you changed your mind about them.

  33. Kristen September 23, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    It’s GORGEOUS! I am so pro-shawls. They are so cosy and lovely, I wear them constantly throughout winter in place of scarves and on airplanes they are like a pillow/security blanket in one. Well done on your lovely shawl!

  34. katja September 25, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    Yeah, you just inspired me to finish the (easy) cowl I’m working on, and trying the terra shawl. Iearned to knit as a kid in school, and just started again last year (a hat, and said scarf). Now that the weather is getting cooler, I seem to be a lot more in the mood to knit, than in the hot summer months ;)
    I always freeze in winter, so a shawl over my shoulders at work, that also covers as a giant scarf (i loooooove giant scarfs) is just my kind of thing.
    Thanks for sharing!

  35. Stephanie September 30, 2012 at 7:31 am #

    I think shawls are gorgeous. I haven’t knit one yet, but appreciate the aesthetic. They’re totally versatile and glamorous!