Wedding Season Knitting: A wedding shawl
June 18, 2012
Summer goes hand in hand with weddings and every knitter knows that knitting a wedding shawl is a rite of passage as well as a beloved gift that only you can give to a beloved bride for her wedding day. Even if the shawl is not directly part of the ceremony, it will serve as a reminder and symbol of the extraordinary day and summon up the feelings evoke every time the bride touches the soft knitted stitches.
Choosing a wedding shawl pattern is as important as choosing the yarn and color of your wedding shawl. You may choose to have the bride help you with all decisions or wish to surprise her with details that you picked that remind you of her in all three areas. The decision is up to you but do not feel overwhelmed by any of it. A wedding shawl does not need to meet any certain requirements other than it is made with love from you to the bride. It is akin to any other wedding present; its value is not determined by a receipt or store name. It is something crafted with a certain person knit into every stitch, just like all knitted goods. Have fun, just like picking out a birthday present. Some would say that what you feel can be worked into every stitch; so if you are worried, stressed or anxious over the reception of your gift, you are gifting those feelings to the bride. However, if you are elated, overjoyed and confident in knowing you are giving the bride a piece of beauty (no matter its final outcome) you are gifting those feelings for her marriage as well as a piece of hand knit.
Pick your yarn (go for natural fibers that can be blocked) based on the month of the wedding (cotton or silk for warmer months, cashmere or wool for cooler) to further help the shawl serve as a reminder of the wonderful day. Let this qualification also help you pick your colors. The bride may have green as a wedding color but choose a brighter green for spring/summer and a jewel tone for fall/winter. Lastly choose a pattern that reminds you of the bride in some way, either by the name of the pattern or the stitches used. If she enjoys flowers, let that play a central theme. If the bride loves sailing or rock climbing choose a braided cable that suggests rope. Lastly give yourself time. Time to make all your decisions and time to careful work on your shawl so that you enjoy it and have plenty of time to correct mistakes or practice a tricky stitch pattern.
I have only had the opportunity to make one wedding shawl for my now sister-in-law but I loved every second of it. I surprised her but worked closely with my brother to create it. I choose a mohair blend in cream and a modified Swallowtail pattern with an alternate border. The border is my favorite part but not part of the original plan. I tried for days to work the original border but found the mohair too tricky and the stitches too hard to count to see where my mistake was. So I scoured my stitch books and found the perfect compliment with a knit on border. The ending result was better than I had hoped and now a family heirloom. If I had not taken the time to really work on this shawl I would never have finished it due to frustration. Time is the #1 ingredient in making a beautiful wedding shawl and a poignant symbol to pass on with a wedding shawl.
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