In celebration of today’s book launch, I thought it would be lovely to take a peek inside at all six beautiful shawls. I know we’ll be welcoming some new members in the days and weeks to come, who might never have had a chance to see the whole collection together. So, without further ado, here are the six shawls of The Shawl Society Season 1:
Magical, safe, and full of good fortune, Talisman is a carefree crescent shawl, inscribed with a simple star stitch.
Traditional lore advises that a talisman should always be made by the hands of the one who intends to use it. By my reckoning that makes this shawl perfect for some selfish knitting. These cherished objects were often made to protect pilgrims on their journey, and it just so happens that Talisman makes wonderful travel knitting.
The pattern has been designed to showcase beautiful hand dyed yarn: subtly tonal, boldly variegated or a tranquil gradient, and it includes three versatile sizes. The small is a one skein project, ideal for crafting a special yarn into something charmed. The large size is just right for two skeins of fingering yarn or a beautiful lace weight.
Amulet was inspired by the mystical beauty of an ancient Egyptian carving of a powerful scarab beetle with wings outstretched to provide shelter and protection from harm. The elongated triangle shape of this shawl recalls the scarab’s wings, which are also echoed in the graphically striking rib section. The most important characteristic of any amulet is the power ascribed to it by its owner, and I have tried to infuse this design with some of that energy and intention. The sacred significance of handmade objects is something that every knitter knows. Made for yourself, it is an eloquent act of self-care. When knit for a loved one, it is a compelling symbol of comfort and love.
Featuring lace, eyelets, and optional beading (for a little extra magic), the Amulet shawl pattern offers two sizes, medium and large. With plenty of intriguing details to keep you interested, this is an exciting knit that is also well within the reach of courageous new shawl knitters. It can be knit in one, two, or even more colours, making it an excellent project for stash busting.
A gentle crescent shawl with flowing lace and garter sections, Asana is a lovely special occasion shawl, whether you’re preparing for one magical day or making an ordinary day magical through a bit of mindfulness. Optional beads add a flicker of light to its soft textures and quiet curves. Designed for lace or fingering weight yarn, it is delicate and light enough to wear even in the warmer months.
In yoga, Asana means “a position that is firm, but relaxed.” This attitude should be familiar to anyone who has ever learned to knit, or tried a new technique just outside of your comfort zone. Gritting your teeth and clenching your hands around your needles never helps. This shawl is a higher level of difficulty than the previous Shawl Society patterns: the lace is a bit more challenging and there are four rows where you are knitting lace rows on the wrong side. The actual stitches aren’t difficult, but you need to be in meditation mode (not multitasking mode!).
Concentration, relaxation and focus will get you through to the graceful result you want.
Aurorae are the spellbinding flames of light that gather in the sky at both ends of the earth. In the far north, in Finland, it’s said that the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, occur when a great arctic fox brushes sparks from the mountain tops with his huge fluffy tail. On the other side of planet, the Aboriginal Australians believed that the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights, were fires from the spirit world: the raging bushfires of sky spirits or the glow of their ancestors’ campfires.
I love the idea that people from different places can look at one phenomenon and interpret it so differently and creatively. In a much smaller way we can see this same magic happening in something as simple as a knitting pattern, when the gifted imaginations and hands of knitters from every corner of the world create their own versions of a beautiful object.
The Aurorae Shawl gathers up the strands of that sense of wonder, with rippling shifts of colour and flickering eyelet lace. Aurorae Shawl was designed using a six colour gradient set, with both sport weight and fingering weight versions. If you’re knitting from stash, this is a wonderful way to use up leftovers from other projects: just pick six colours that blend or play well together. This asymmetrical shawl features garter, eyelet and slip stitches: it looks intricate and complicated, but in fact it’s a gentle, easy knit. An i-cord edge gives Aurorae a lovely, polished finish.
The design for Quill draws from older, more patient ways of making and doing. This elongated, triangular shawl features stripes like the lines of a letter on a parchment page and a lace border inspired by feathers. Dream dictionaries say that to dream of writing with a quill pen “symbolizes the way you view your creative process — slow, methodical, beautiful, and not very technological.” For me, that lines up beautifully with the way I approach my knitting, and the way I imagine the Quill shawl in the world.
Quill is a generously sized shawl with an engaging mix of colour and texture. It makes for relaxing knitting, and the yarn selected adds another layer of old-fashioned comfort. Tamar DK yarn from Blacker Yarns is a soft, squishy DK weight with rustic charm and a sophisticated colour palette. It is made from historic Wensleydale, Teeswater, Cotswold and Black Leicester Longwool, all British heritage breeds chosen for their long, wavy, lustre fleece. A generous helping of local Cornish mule lambs’ fleece gives this yarn extra bounce and give.
Even though the knitting community today is largely bound together with the modern magic of the Internet, the objects we make with our hands are a throwback to a graceful past. Knitting Quill is a beautiful way to slow down at the end of a busy day, giving yourself over to an uncomplicated creative practice and a quieter way of being in the world.
The Sonder Shawl is a big, soft, cosy shawl to wrap up the Shawl Society journey. “Sonder” is a new word, originally defined as “the realization that each random passer by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.“ That sudden flash of recognition occurs at random moments. Sometimes it’s brought on by the novelty of a new place: taking a crowded train through a foreign country and watching the evidence of thousands of unknown lives flash by in seconds. Other times, a mundane moment spent standing in a coffee shop queue becomes suddenly mysterious as you wonder about the inner lives of the strangers who surround you.
The moment we meet a new friend, we gain entrance into the rich story of their lives. It is the best way we have of tapping into that abundance of experience, and for the final Shawl Society project I wanted a design that reflected the connection and warmth we share as a community of knitters. The Sonder Shawl is an elongated triangle shape, veering towards a scarf. It has an open, easy to memorise stitch pattern and is finished with playful tassels. In the spirit of sharing, it is wonderful gift knitting: the bulky yarn knits up super fast and the contemporary design will appeal even to shawl sceptics.
Publishing this collection as a real-life book is a realisation of a life-long dream. I’m so excited to finally share it with the world. If you’d like to grab your own copy, it is available right now on Amazon.