Published 9th October 2018
Once upon a time, I used to knit on one project at once – I’d buy the yarn and pattern and knit the item in question. Then, and only then, would I consider the next project.
Oh, how things have changed. Now I always have several knitting/crochet projects on the go at once. And included in my mountain of WIPs will be something simple for when I’m out and about, or watching something on TV that needs my eyes on the screen, or when I have little bandwith for something more complex. For me, that is often a shawl with an easily-memorised pattern, or just plain, squishy garter stitch in beautiful yarn – you know, the sort that calls to you at a fibre festival, and that you might buy with no particular project in mind? I know that’s not just me!
A plain vanilla sock is always an option too, and I try to have at least one on the needles so that I have an easy project to hand. Well, you can’t have too many socks, can you? But shawls? To me, the answer is the same: you can’t have too many. Think of all the different colours of shawls that you might need. And the different weights. And the different shapes. And what better way to use that special skein of yarn that you bought on impulse at a fibre show just ‘because’? Or on holiday at a local yarn shop.
But shawls are complicated, aren’t they? Not what you might want to knit in company when you are chatting? OK, there are some patterns that require silence, spare brain capacity, lots of stitch markers and the odd lifeline or two, but here are my top 5 favourite simple shawl patterns, tried and tested by me.
In no particular order (don’t make me choose!):
Fuss Free Festival Shawl by Louise Tilbrook
For me, this is the ultimate ‘portable shawl project’ which I can grab whenever I need some easy knitting that is not a sock, and is not using tiny 2mm needles. So much so, that I have a second one on the go just for that very reason.
When I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in 2017, the first stall I made a high-speed beeline for (my friend said she saw the scorch marks on the carpet!) was Fluph / Little Grey Girl, so that I could get my hands on the EYF special edition Rusty Ferret yarn, project bag and shawl pattern combination. I was not disappointed with the yarn, the project bag (even though I make and sell my own) and especially not the pattern. Did I mention that I’m making a second one? I love the easy-to-wear crescent shape, and the 2 row repeat is simple to memorise. And you can carry on until you run out of yarn, so no leftovers!
Knit Night by Louise Zass-Bangham
From the Ravelry description: “This shallow triangle-scarf is perfect for easy knitting while you catch-up with friends at knit night. Designed to show-off hand-dyed yarns, it allows the beautiful colours to shine.”
I’d agree with that. I had a skein of yarn from Countess Ablaze that I admit I had absolutely no idea what to do with. It was far too good to be hidden in shoes, so socks were not an option. And it was rather bright and colourful. But the simple shape and garter stitch of the Knit Night shawl was perfect for an easy knit that showed off the yarn.
Fireflies Rising by Helen Stewart
Now I was tempted to say ‘anything by Helen Stewart’ because I am a bit of a Helen Stewart / Curious Handmade fan when it comes to shawls … But the Fireflies Rising shawl is one of my favourites of hers. This one starts with a big section of stocking stitch before launching into an easy but effective lace pattern on the border. But don’t let the idea of the lace pattern put you off – Helen has a fantastic way of laying out all of her patterns with row-by-row instructions, with a very handy indication of the percentage complete. I made my first (yes, I made it again) Fireflies Rising out of the luxurious Tanami 4ply Camel Silk by Travelknitter in the Sand Dune colourway. And, boy, does that yarn give a wonderful drape!
G’Day Boomerang by Susan Ashcroft
This one requires a little bit more attention, but it is a still a good one for an easy knit, in my opinion. I love the shape of the ‘Boomerang’ shawls by Susan Ashcroft, and have also made a few others.
I made this shawl when I was travelling daily to and from my radiotherapy sessions at the end of 2017. It was particularly special for me because of the yarn – it was gifted to me by the ever-lovely Jo of Shiny Bees podcast fame, who sent me a care package which included a delightfully inappropriately named yarn from Countess Ablaze in a colourway called The Undertaker! I used my travel time to and from appointments in the first week to knit it up and wore it on my last (hopefully) visit to the cancer centre when I finished my treatment.
Someday, Somewhere … by Clare Devine
I test knit this beautiful shawl by Clare Devine (Knit Share Love) over Christmas and New Year 2017/8. I have to admit to being a bit daunted by this one, and almost regretting sticking my hand up to test knit it – it is huge, and takes about 750m of ‘fingering weight’ (4-ply in old money) yarn. But I needn’t have worried. This shawl was the perfect relaxing and easy project – great for in front of the TV whilst enjoying the excesses of the festive season! There are long garter stitch sections for ‘mindless’ knitting, but the lace panels (for which I found stitch markers to be very useful!) add interest as you go.
This is another great pattern from Knit Share Love. Clare has a talent for producing patterns that are well written and easy to knit, whilst the finished object looks more complicated than it is.
I’d never done a 2-skein shawl before, and was a little worried at first that I had over-committed myself to this test knit on a deadline. But it was quite a quick (for me) knit. And I found that if I worked on just one project, it got finished quite quickly! That’s one of the reasons why I love test knitting …
And a bonus item:
Ice Cream Shawl by Helen Ingram of Woolly Chic
I hold my hands up – I have no ‘finished object’ picture for this because it is one that I have not made … yet! But I have seen the finished shawl in real life, and it is beautiful. I have just bought the pattern, so it will be next on my list for when I need an easy shawl pattern. Now, I wonder if I have yarn for it …
To make it easier for you, I have created a Ravelry Bundle with the links to all these shawls in one place.
What are your favourite ‘easy’ shawls? Do please leave a comment and let me know!