Hi all!! Meg here! We’ll have our 2nd Prize announcement and KAL post tomorrow, but we wanted to take a minute today to have our second ever Guest Blogger, Dawn Henderson, talk with us a bit about her process of creating the Retreat Shawl this past winter. It’s a wonderful read, and don’t forget to check in tomorrow about KAL prize winners and more!
A Few Words From…Dawn Henderson!
Thank you so much, Meg, for inviting me to share a bit on your blog during the Shawl-Along! You’ve been so helpful and encouraging throughout my design journey, and for that, I’m incredibly thankful.
The Retreat Shawl, worked in the Nutmeg Fibers Retreat base, was my very first shawl design, and (for me at least), it was a doozy! I’d never really thought of myself as much of a shawl knitter, or a shawl wearer for that matter. I loved the idea of shawls and have knit (and frogged) a few, but they’re certainly not a go-to knit for me. My lack of shawl confidence was made very apparent with this project!
For this design, I decided to continue with the stitch pattern that was featured on my Cottage Hat design. I figured that was a safe bet— I’m already getting a crash course in terms of shawl shaping, so why not keep the featured stitch pattern a bit more familiar? Other considerations: sizing. I realized that one of the main reasons I’ve never really enjoyed the shawls I’d previously knit was because the size just wasn’t quite right. I’m very broad shouldered. Like, very very (about a 40in circumference, compared to a 32in bust). Because of that, most shawls fit me more like loose kerchiefs and lacked the elegance and grounding that shawls can add to an outfit. I needed something that could hold it’s own atop my massive shoulders, but still not be a “shlanket”.
As for sizing, I decided on a simple, asymmetrical triangle. Not only is this shape popular and easy to wear, it’s easy to construct! Plus, I was hoping that the math side of things would be a bit easier if I only had to deal with one recurring increase. It was. Kind of.
I took it easy on myself and began the shawl in reverse stockinette; I needed to set the tone and get into a . I also wanted the design to be something that you could just pick up and start right away. You can’t beat a pattern that begins with, “CO 6 sts”!
Eventually the reverse stockinette gets traded in for a simple 1x1 chevron cable pattern. The pattern itself is quite easy to work, and the 1x1 cables BEG to be knit without a cable needle. But something I didn’t fully consider when deciding to borrow this stitch pattern from the Cottage Hat: the hat was worked in the round (of course), but this shawl is not. Needless to say, my initial stitch counts, row counts, and charting was wrong. All wrong. Insert face palm and eyes welling with tears emojis… So, at this point, I did the only thing I could do (after ripping back and drying my tears): I knit one row, and then charted it. Then I knit the next row, and then charted it. And so on. It was pretty intense.
It’s one thing to just knit up a gorgeous FO, right? You can throw in some mods, fudge a few numbers… no one is really going to know the difference. But to create the instructions people need to achieve that same FO? That’s the real work!
I’m happy to say that, in the end, I figured it all out, and the Retreat Shawl ended up being a real beauty! Once blocked, Meg’s Retreat base takes on an incredible drape, and the finished shawl just sinks down into you. It’s a great balance of texture, interest, and simplicity, and can easily become a versatile wardrobe staple. Worked up in plant fibers, it would make a great piece to throw on for cooler summer evenings, and a heavier weight version would be unbelievably cozy in the dead of winter.
Again, I’m immensely thankful to have had this opportunity to work with Meg, and I hope you all have a fun-filled, crafty summer! I can’t wait to see the shawls you create during this year’s Shawl-Along!