Companions of wise women and magicians down the years, these helpful household beings took the form of a loyal animal: a black cat was the most traditional, but your familiar could be just about anything. A dog, an otter, a raven, a discreet little mouse or fleet brown hare.
Some say these magical animals could change shape to suit the task at hand. They could deliver messages, assist with magic, defend their human, but most of all they were company.
The life of a magic-maker can be a lonely one, and having someone by (and on) your side is important, even when it’s “just” an animal. Harry Potter’s beloved Hedwig, the beautiful snowy owl, is an updated interpretation of a familiar. More than just a pet or a mail carrier, she was one of his very best friends.
Anyone who has ever formed a bond with an animal knows that friendship is one of the strongest kinds of magic we have here in the real world.
Our sixth design for this season, the Familiar Shawl, taps into a little of that magic. Familiar will be a cosy companion on frosty days, offering warmth and comfort when the wind blows wild.
Texture plays a strong role in this design, which features unusual soft cables, inspired in part by Hedwig’s downy feathers. It has a “familiar” favourite shape: a crescent, and is finished with a simple ribbed border. The yarn, a fluffy, luxurious bulky weight, is soft enough that your first instinct is to stroke it affectionately.
Familiar knits up so quickly some people might suspect you’ve used a helpful household spell in its construction.
The Familiar shawl is a tribute to companionship and loyalty wherever we find it: furry or feathered friends, close human confidantes, or a tribe of like-minded makers scattered across the globe, connected by technology. As such, it seemed like a fitting end to this magical season of The Shawl Society.
Making, like magic, can be something of solitary pursuit. Familiar reminds us to reach outside ourselves into the rich world of camaraderie and connection that waits for us, closer to home than we might imagine.
Approximately 168cm (66”) diameter across top edge
43cm (17”) neck to bottom edge
The Fibre Co Tundra 60% alpaca, 30% wool, 10% silk; 110m/120yds per 100g skein, 3 x 100g skeins,
300g of bulky weight yarn totaling approximately 330m/360yds
7mm (US Not available – closest US size
is 10½ ie 6.5mm), 80/100cm (32/40”) long
circular needles (or size to obtain gauge)
12 sts/18 rows = 10cm (4”) in stockinette
stitch after blocking