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  • Writer's pictureKiri Self

The Shawl! My first commission (and my first shawl)

It is finished! And it is safely with its new owners. The shawl that a friend asked me to make for her first grandchild - it is finally done and received.

Baby and shawl

My friend S came to visit me with a couple of other friends last year, and I was very proud to be able to show off my new hobby of crocheting. I was prepared for them to be lovely and polite and gush about how nice it was that I had found something to occupy myself with - I didn’t expect for S to ask me to make a Shawl for the new grandbaby who was expected at the end of December. Of course (being me) I first eagerly accepted the challenge, and then only after that remembered that I had never made a Shawl. In fact, by that stage, the only thing I had completed was a tiny bag for a crystal.

So as per usual I was setting myself up for an absolutely massive challenge. Also, me being me, I wasn’t going to go the easy way and follow a pattern. Of course not. Patterns make my brain hurt. I was going to make it all up myself.

S wanted a square shawl but I very much didn’t want to make it a granny square type one. I’m not sure why, it retrospect that would probably have been easier 😆 and anyway I knew I could make round things because the middle of the tiny bag had been a round thing.

S and I wanted a sunshine themed shawl so I found some sunshine pictures and she picked two she particularly liked. I had a picture in my head of what I wanted to make, based on the designs S liked, but I never managed to get there because I don’t have enough techniques under my belt yet. Or the right yarn. I will keep the picture in my minds eye though and I will make it one day.

I immediately began making lots of tiny round things to try and figure out how this would all work. I used all kinds of different yarns but I hated the feel of the synthetic baby yarns - they just didn’t feel nice and soft to me. I did obviously love how the silk yarns felt in my hands, so… yeah 😆 we took the immensely practical decision that it would be a silk Shawl.

Bearing in mind that the baby was due at the end of December, I really should have been further ahead than this by Christmas. I had finally taken one of the tiny round things, and I had expanded it into something not quite so tiny.

But I didn’t think it was what I wanted it to be so I ditched it and started again. I wanted something more yellowy, and I also needed to work out how to make a circle into a square. It started well but when I came to trying to make it into a square somehow I just ended up expanding the size of the circle, and by the time it was finished (middle of Feb) it had taken on the properties of those immense skirts I used to wear as a child, with so much extra material in the circumference of the skirt that it properly swirled when you twirled. It was gorgeous but it wasn’t exactly a shawl. And the design wasn’t sunshine enough for me.

I seem not to have taken a final photo, so you’ll just have to imagine it even more floofy at the edges.

The baby had of course been born (1st Jan baby!) so the last thing I should have been doing was ripping it apart and starting again. But - this was what I did. I was much more careful this time about how I expanded it. I still made a mistake somewhere in the middle and it was a bit more saggy than I would have liked, but it was a great improvement on the previous version.

Also this time I wanted to edge it with a blue sky, which I did and I really really liked the effect

Once it was finished I knew I would need to “block“ it, which is the fancy term used to describe the process of getting the thing you have made wet, and then basically stretching it flat as it dries, so it looks and behaves better. When you make something like this all the yarn is kind of coiled and springy so if you do this process it all becomes a bit straighter. As it was silk, I couldn’t just dunk it in a bowl of water as that would stretch the fibres too much. So I pinned it out and then I spritzed it with a water spray. I propped it in the window so it would dry in the sun.

Once it had dried, I unpinned it and was completely amazed. It looked and felt so much better than I had hoped and I was finally proud enough of what I had made to parcel it up and post it off - the 23rd of March by this point! Oops. Better late than never though….

It was received very gratefully and I am told that the recipient (small boy) and his parents absolutely love it. I’m really glad that they do as I’m not sure I could face doing it a fourth time 😆😆😆 I did really love making it - especially the last time as it was turning out much closer to what I wanted. But I would still like to make the design that’s in my head so maybe the next baby to be born in my circle of friends will get lucky.

Lots of pictures here for you, I hope you enjoyed The Tale of The Shawl! It was a bit of a saga 😆 but a joyful one.


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