Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl

I generally do not encourage, nor practice, any knitting for Christmas after Thanksgiving, unless it’s something I’m already familiar with and which would otherwise be a one or two day project. My main reason for not doing “Christmas knitting” is that the season is already so full of things to do, anxiety and chaos, that sticking a large project in there which must be done in time seems like a recipe for ruining my enjoyment of the season with unnecessary stress. That doesn’t mean that I stop knitting – I pick things that are basically mindless knitting, which I can do in front of the TV, and it’s nice if they look much more spiffy than their ease would imply.

One of these kinds of projects is the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl designed by Sarah Bradberry, who has a wonderful website with lots of fun free knitting patterns, including this one for the shawl. This pattern is very rewarding for new or insecure knitters because it is easy to make and looks nice, and we “old hands” like it, too.

I’ve made it twice and am working on a third one. The first was made of oddments, looked nice, and I gave it away. This is the second one, made of Wool-Ease oddballs.

The one I’m working on now is in acrylic blues with a sparkle thread (I had a brain spasm) that I bought as a package from Herrschner’s online – Snow and Ice is the name of the color combination. I can tell you from past experience, this is one of the fastest shawls to make that I’ve done. I use needles sizes one larger than recommended for the yarn, which adds extra drape and emphasizes the lacy aspect.

The pattern is screamingly easy to memorize – it’s basically three rows of knit (giving two garter rows on the right side), then a row of knit, a row of purl and a row of knit with the easy doodly pattern, then start over.

When you print out the pattern, it seems daunting because it’s seven pages long. Three of those are pictures for the person who likes very specific visual guides. The remaining pages are double-spaced for clarity. It’s well written with no mistakes or typos (RAH, RAH, SIS-BOOM-BAH!), and the ONLY addition I would make is to add in four markers – one before and one after the feather and fan pattern on row 57 on each side.

I have two reasons for the markers. One, I like a tactile reminder to watch out for the center stitch when I’m aimlessly knitting along (the two center markers do that). The other reason is that the pattern repeats over 18 stitches, and if I want to make mine longer than the step-by-step instructions, adding markers helps me make sure I’ve built up a enough stitches to add in another two repeats. The pattern is certainly well written enough to not need them, if you prefer not.

So, I recommend making a Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl this Christmas, all the way through the holidays, and giving it to yourself when you are done because you won’t mind if it’s late or early or has a mistake in it somewhere (which only you can see, but if you’re like me, it’s the ONLY thing you can see for quite a while).

Wear it in the mornings when you’re having your early beverage, wear it at night when you stay up late to look at the tree, take it with you when you go out to get the mail and sling it around your head and shoulders like a giant scarf. Loan it to the kids as a mini-blanket while watching TV. Wear the daylights out of it and then make another one!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just started making this shawl today. I am on row 15 and I can't wait to see how it will turn out. I will be giving it to a friend who has cancer.