If you’re Rhinebeck-bound, we would love to see youΒ at Jill Draper’s studio in Kingston on Saturday night–details here.

Pith and Vinegar

Dear Ann,
Readers want to know eggzackly how I made my two shawls, which were inspired by Terhi’s one shawl, which was an adaptation of a traditional triangle shawl that she found in Cheryl Oberle’s book Folk Shawls. Here’s as pithy as I can get:
Long-Tailed Triangle Shawl
Knit Cheryl Oberle’s Feather & Fan Triangle Shawl, minus eyelet rows, up to the point that the feather & fan edging starts; at this point you will part company with the instructions. End with a RS row. On the next row, change to ruffle color and purl across the (WS) row. Instead of the feather and fan edging, work a soft ruffle, like so: On the next row (RS), (k1, kfb) all the way across the row. Now work 18 garter ridges, continuing to increase at the beginning and end of each row, and continuing the center increases on RS rows only. (For the ruffle, I changed the center increases to “make 1 right, k1, make 1 left.”)
Tail-Free Triangle Shawl
Start with the basic top-down triangle shape specified for Cheryl Oberle’s Wool Peddler Shawl, but work the 2 additional increase rows called for in the Feather & Fan Triangle Shawl. When the base triangle is complete, substitute the soft garter ruffle (described above) for the lacy edging of the Wool Peddler.
Gentle Reminder, aka The Sermon on the Block
Unlike some people (ahem), I am not a particularly avid blocker of my knits. I block as I see fit, which is sometimes kind of slapdash. Garter stitch can beguile me into thinking it needs no blocking; it is so very well behaved just as it comes off the needles. I usually wash things when they’re done, not so much to block them as to cleanse away any cooties they have picked up being dragged around on the subway.
This….unbelief, this skepticism about the Power of Blocking…. is very wrong of me. Thinking I was wasting my time with a superfluous ritual, I handwashed and then machine spun the brown Koigu shawl yesterday, laid it out tidily on the bed to dry for a few hours, and was amazed. It grew a lot, due to the properties of wool, I guess: it bloomed, softened, tidied up, and,especially, GOT BIGGER. Much bigger. It went from 70 inches across the wingspan to 90 inches; it now practically has tails and it actually fits ME, who is quite a bit girthier than the recipient (who now will be the proud owner of a luxuriously oversized shawl; that is my story and I’m sticking to it: I meant for it to be this way).
One thing that might be seen as a negative is that the ruffle flattened out in the process, probably due to way I smooshed it out on the bed. To me, this is the desired look. If you want your ruffle to ruffle more convincingly, you’d have to knit a lot more stitches, by KFBing into every stitch on the first row, instead of every other stitch.
OK, that is all. Block, is all I’m saying. Even a wishy-washy, no-pins, cat-safe block can make your knitting all purty-like.
P.S. I would like to thank Central Park for allowing me to sustain the fantasy of my serenely clutter-free apartment. The ultimate crop of life’s detritus: take the pictures somewhere else.




  1. thanks – and would you remind us what the yarn is?

  2. Kay, you are one very funny woman. I hope your loved ones appreciate that. If not, (and we know your children in adolescence won’t think you are humorous AT ALL, but fortunately, that’s just a phase.) there is always a place for you at our house, and if you knit me a shawl, well you can be “Aunt Kay” as long as you like! They are beautiful!

  3. Thank you. I think I will make five grey ones! They are so beautiful.

  4. Too funny! I do have that book though… woo hoo! I will go find it right now!

  5. I just finished reading all the way through the archives of your wonderful blog. Having asked for your first book for Christmas (and having received the second), I went out and purchased it recently. I have so enjoyed reading it all, being inspired to take chances and create things, and laughing fit to hurt myself on a pretty regular basis. You have a new reader. Thank you much.

  6. One might also try fluffing the riffles a little to encourage them during blocking.
    Lovely shawl(s), Kay.

  7. I think it looks great still. Even if less ruffly.

  8. thank you thank you thank you… so happy to know how to make this shawl!!!

  9. i would think if you made
    another shawl and picked a charity–
    you could put it up on auction and
    raise a nice some of money– betcha

  10. wouldn’t you know I looked for Folk Shawls today and couldn’t find it – I found Folk Vests, Folk Socks but no Folk Shawls – and the problem is to get to where I think it might be will require moving things that are still beyond my arm – oh well it will be a future project for sure because I love this shawl!! I even checked the library to see if they had a copy to take out but no go… they have Folk Mittens — it’s a conspiracy for sure lol

  11. Hello! I LOVE your shawl, and I can’t believe I found your guys blog! My mom and I just purchased your book and we LOVE it! How do you both knit so evenly and perfectly? Its amazing how straight your garter rows are! I love reading your guys book, you both are so inspirational. ^_^

  12. I love these shawls so much. I need to make one. RIGHT NOW.

  13. I love these shawls so much. I need to make one. RIGHT NOW.

  14. Oh, Kay (the title of your post) and oh, Kay, those shawls are SO beautiful in their simplicity. Thanks for pointing us to the source(s).

  15. Oh Kay– is the color balance on your shawl pix variable or..did you knit a THIRD one?
    A question only a nerdy photographer who is not so diligent with garter stitch only projects would ask…I know.
    Beautiful in any calibration.

  16. Congrats! The shawls are proven classics–look just as nice in Central Park as in “clutter-free” apartment.
    (BTW, how much Jade Saphire (fingering wt., right?), and how much Koigu for each?
    I trust that the fruit of your efforts will bring/have brought comfort into the lives of the shawl recipients. At the very least, they have tangible proof of your friendship and caring; and THAT…is the utmost!

  17. Oh Kay, you’re now inspiring me to make another one! πŸ™‚ Really beautiful shawls, both of them. Your garter stitch looks perfect.

  18. Beauteous. And thanks for the guidance to the challenged ones (like me).

  19. Lovely stuff, thanks for the details. Some of us need things spelled out. Jemimah Puddleduck be hanged, I’d really like one of these, the shawl’s answer to mindless sock knitting with a gorgeous result. Alas, I suspect that snazzy hands-free wrap look will add to areas of my figure that need no enhancement. Hmmmm…

  20. I just love it when you explain things…its all so doable now! Your shawls are fabulous, I have the book, I have the yarn, I have 2 other WIPs but who cares. I WANT THAT SHAWL!

  21. I don’t block either. Never. Either no one has noticed or they are just too nice to comment.
    Maybe not blocking is a former/current Omahan thing πŸ™‚
    I love the shawl!
    Thanks for the inspiriation!

  22. Kay!! You have the most clutter free home of ANYONE I know.

  23. I drooled all over my desk while staring at your shawl from the previous post, so I bought Folk Shawls on Amazon last night, plus Knit Kimono… could not pass it up.
    Thank you both for being so inspiring.
    I can’t wait to go to our LYS and pick out the yarn and get started.

  24. For Janet – Adolescents have a sense of humor. You need look no further than my two boys who have survived being mothered by me and reached adulthood. They still think I’m funny. (c:
    Kay, I think undulating ruffles are so much prettier that furfling ruffles. I love this shawl. I’m always amazed at what a good soak, spin and rest on the bed will do for a knit myself. It’s enough to make me consider finishing a sweater.

  25. So beautiful! The sequence of the photos makes it look as if the shawl got a good night’s sleep, crawled out of bed, curled up it the favorite chair for a bit of sewing then decided it would take a stroll in Central Park. I wonder where it might go next.

  26. It may be my purely deranged imagination but after blocking my finished products are lighter in weight. The spin of my washing machine takes out excess water and yarn weight–and that’s what I’m sticking with.

  27. While I am confident a shawl will make me look bulkier than I already do and that I live in Texas, where need for a wool shawl is minimal at best…I feel absolutely compelled to make one! They are so classic and lovely. I’m so glad you are willing to share with us!

  28. Thank you for the lovely pithy directions. I’m really looking forward to making this shawl; while I don’t “get it” from a quick read through, I’m sure it will make perfect sense once I have the yarn and needles in my hand.
    Central Park can be a live saver for photo shoots. Cold though, yes?

  29. thank you, thank you, thank you, I have been dying for more details.
    ordering the book now, purchasing wool Saturday, will cast on asap.
    lovely, lovely, shawl and photos!

  30. Kay, thanks so much for the details of both shawls – they’re both beautiful! I did wonder just exactly how you altered the patterns to make them your own. Now I know. You’re generous to share.

  31. KFBing sounds dirty, doesn’t it??
    And nice photo shoot! I was wondering if you lived in a castle. The shawl looks great!

  32. I wanna know how you managed to do all that garter stitch without going STARK RAVIN’ MAD? Nothing gets me a UFO faster than endless garter stitch…

  33. Do you have a dye lot stripe on the last bit of your ruffle edge? Looks great!

  34. Thank you! πŸ˜‰

  35. It’s a wonderful looking shawl, but I too would go bonkers from all of that garter stitch.

  36. I’m with you on the joy of location shoots! Amen, sister!

  37. Wow. Fabulous. I feel warm just looking at it. I have to time as it is for knitting so I am going to wish that I acquire a friend who would make me something like this!

  38. Maybe you could re-name them Balustrade Shawls.
    Gorgeous photos with gorgeous shawls!

  39. Thank you for the instructions. I suspect I will still look like Jemima Puddleduck since I am seriously vertically challenged, but I’m making a long-tailed one anyway. You may have converted me to the beauty of brown.

  40. I can’t help it. KFBing translates to me in a way that would send me to the naughty corner. I won’t sully your family-friendly blog comments with my bad ways. πŸ˜€


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