March 2012 Update
The Pioneer Shawl is now available as a pdf download from my Ravelry store.
The shawl will be published by Pico Accuardi Dyeworks, as part of "Created in Oregon: A Knitter's Daybook 2012".
All of the designers who contributed to the daybook were given a concept to work with, and mine was "The Pioneer Trail". In thinking about my theme, I decided that I wanted to make something a pioneer woman could knit and then wear as she traveled through the west. So the design needed to be easily memorized (no complicated charts), easy to customize for different sized bodies, and once finished, had to stay in place. I imagine that pioneer ladies didn't have the luxury of coquettishly adjusting their garments as they went about their labors. For that reason, I decided to do a shawl that would tie around the body.
A little over a year ago, I was given a copy of "Nordic Knitting", an out of print book about Scandinavian knitting. One of the projects in the book that most fascinates me is a tied shawl from Norway:
This shawl starts with the long edge, and almost 600 sts cast on. I have taught enough knitting classes to know that casting on that many stitches is daunting to even the most devoted knitter. The other issue is that casting on at the long edge means that the size can not be adjusted, as the cast on will determine the maximum length of the "tails" (the parts that tie around the body) and the maximum depth of the shawl.
It took a lot of trial and error, but eventually I was able to re-design the shawl so that it starts with a mere 3 sts cast on. I also re-calculated the placement of the increases and created a simple, all-over openwork pattern that is easily memorized so that the knitter can knit away without having to consult the written pattern.
My shawl is reversible, based on a simple yo/k2tog lace, but the RS/WS flips at the center stitch. This creates a subtle textural difference between the right hand and left hand sides of the shawl, and makes it completely reversible.
The shape of the shawl is unusual--like a boomerang, with the tails reaching to the ground when the shawl is untied. This allows it to be comfortably tied around the body. The simplicity of the texture pattern and shaping means that knitters of all shapes and sizes can adjust the shawl to fit their individual body simply by stopping sooner or knitting on longer, no additional calculations needed.
The Pioneer Shawl, laying flat. The 3 co sts are at the center, inner edge.
"Created in Oregon" will be available for purchase August 1, and includes 12 knit patterns from Oregon designers, twelve recipes using local ingredients, lots of Oregon stories and facts.
December 2011 update:
Pico Accuardi Dyeworks has closed its doors; however the datebook should be available via their vendors.