Monday, June 30, 2014

Fellowship! The Shawl

This is one of my favorite projects I've ever made. Not only is it amazingly gratifying that the design was made up out of my own head, but the final project is something I still wear all the time: the colors go with almost everything, and the shape of the shawl makes it so easy to wear a dozen different ways (see my project page on ravelry for some of them). Even more wonderful was watching all of the other projects that have been made with this pattern-- solid, variagated, beaded, you name it! You can find the pattern available here on Ravelry, and the thread for the Knit-a-long here in the Lord of the Rings group.

The idea for this shawl actually began as a scarf based on the same principle: nine distinct charts for nine unique characters. The concept stayed in design limbo for a month or so while I finished up that spring semester and some other projects (as part of Nerd Wars). I even started some swatches, trying to come up with my own lace stitches, learning the ins and outs of yarnovers and the functional differences between a K2tog and an SSK. It wasn't until finals season rolled around that I thought to try to migrate the idea to a shawl.

I was inspired by a set of yarn skeins I had just bought from another raveler, a gradience set of Sushi Sock from Unique Sheep in the colorway Fellowship. I wanted to do something really special with it, something worthy of the yarn's natural beauty (and Lord of the Rings theming). The idea for using it to actually trace the development and journey of the nine characters it was named for wasn't far behind. (And for the curious, the exclamation point in "Fellowship!" comes from "Fellowship! the Musical", an actually really well-done affectionate parody whose soundtrack helped keep the creative juices flowing during this shawl's development process.)

And so red became the One Ring and Boromir, Legolas and Gimli; purple and blue became Aragorn and Merry and Pippin; green became Sam and Frodo. Each chart evolved naturally from the last, yet still tying directly into each respective character. 

(This was the design element that was most important to me for this shawl, because I've seen so many designs and projects that were inspired by Lord of the Rings, but don't say why. When you say your lace is elvish, it makes me curious! I want to know how it ties in!) So that is something I've tried to keep up with each of my designs-- each one comes with its own story, its own tie-in that inspired its colors, shape, stitches, and name. But it all began with this shawl.

Materials: 500 yards of fingering weight yarn. 
Needle: US size 6 circular, or sized to get the drape you want.
Gauge: My gauge was 6 stitches to the inch, but since this is not a fitted garment, gauge can vary.
Finished Measurements: 46 inches wide and 22 inches deep, blocked.