Oh dear, time does seem to have escaped me again. We have moved house twice since my last entry. I would love to say my time has been spent knitting furiously, spinning skeins of luxurious fibres and exploring a world of new crafts. Sadly for me this is not the case at all. Decorating has kind of replaced my favourite pastime and rollers have become my new knitting needles. Thankfully though, this is now over and I can treat the creatively deprived half of my mind with some much yearned for making time.
I had the honour of having been asked to create a wedding shawl for an old school friend. It took a while to find a pattern to be honest. It had to carry an image of the forest; leaves and lace had to inspire the image of Elvish elegance, whilst at the same time allow for use of emerald green and amethyst purple.
What made this harder for me was the fact that said friend is a creative genius herself (eek-how do I make this good enough) and the description of her dress sounded so beautiful I was terrified I would let it down.
A present for a generic event is one thing, but a wedding? The pressure was on. The yarn wasn’t hard to find. I instantly had a few dyers pop into my mind, but settled on Fyberspates Twizzle Silk Sock as the jewel tones complimented each other perfectly.
The pattern though was another story. There are many stunning shawl patterns out there, but finding ones with leaves and lace and two colour opportunities are less easy. Until I found the Vanilla Orchid pattern on Ravelry that is, then the Woodland Wedding was born.
It was such a fun pattern to work with, and as rare as this is, I think I will be making another in both the yarn and the colours that the design is actually suggesting.
A traditional wedding shawl would have been made so delicately, with such fine, lace weight yarn that it could be passed through the wedding ring itself, giving it the name – the ring shawl.
Bearing a rich, global history, the ring shawl is a subject to keep you mesmerised for many an hour. Russia have their Orenburg shawls, spun and knitted from the young hair of the Orenburg goat, who’s fibre is extremely fine and lends itself beautifully to the art. It is so delicate it has to be plied with silk to give it strength.
Estonia boast shawls of exquisite detail, usually knitted in around three parts and later sewn together. There is a museum in Haapsalu which boasts many examples of these pieces, somewhere certainly on my “to travel to” list!
But closer to home for me is Shetland – a far more likely destination – whose women have made equally awe inspiring works of art for generations passed. Still in high demand, the Empress of Japan was presented with one of these shawls just before the millennium by Queen Elizabeth II.
During the nineteenth century, Queen Victoria was fortunate enough to be witness to the art form during its most fashionable era, due to travel becoming so much more accessible. She proved to be a very loyal customer with frequent orders of hosiery and fine lace shawls.
I would urge you to pop the phrase “ring shawl” into Google images, and prepare for your eyes to be popped. Remember, each shawl would take around two hundred hours to complete, they would very often be as tall as you, and would more often than not weigh in at around two ounces – about the same weight as two CDs without cases.
Here I offer my goodbyes and pay homage to those knitters gone by, who I am sure took the question, “would you knit my wedding shawl?” far more seriously than I!