It would be easy to just say that I took a class and designed this shawl, Ta Da!
It would be accurate too, but it would also leave out so much of the story, all the connections that seem to pop up when you follow your passion and the path grows before you. I did design this shawl in a class that I took last year, it was an incredible class with the lovely and talented Sivia Harding, a design class on how to work a shawl sideways. This type of shawl is so lovely to work, it effectively works the sideways edging at the same time as the rest of the work so there is no tedious knit on edging at the end of the project flipping back and forth on a small section of stitches. And because it is worked sideways beginning at the narrow end it is easy to estimate when you are halfway done and begin decreasing. This makes for a really enjoyable knit during which you don't have to stress yardage amounts.
Sivia works with Beads a lot, she has loads of patterns with beautifully and artistically placed beads that really emphasize the pattern stitches and design. Part of the class was all about working with beads and learning where to place them and how to use them effectively. I had never really worked with beads before and hadn't ever thought I would. (Actually I was pretty adamantly anti-bead, who wanted to stop knitting to scoop up and fiddle with a teeny tiny bead and crochet hook? Who has time for that ? Who has a place in their house where they can work with beads without worry of ambush from kids or pets?) But since I took the course and (wasn't prepared to be a complete flaming jerk) I bought the beads and the crochet hook and prepared to hate it.
But you know what?
Those teeny tiny sparkly beads in my most favorite light chartreuse green with the inner rim of gold seduced me, bit by tiny bit they convinced me that the benefit of the finished look was well worth using the finicky material and tool. And truthfully after a while it became so easy, so quick to work and barely took the smallest pause in the knitting to hook a bead on that it seemed foolish I had ever doubted. I often am complimented on how fast I can knit, and my reply is always "well I practice a lot", which is the truth because most times I knit between 3-6 hours a day between waiting for dance classes, or piano lessons or watching shows with my husband. Of course it makes sense that the more you practice a task the better you are at it, and the same goes for placing the beads. The more you do it the more it becomes second nature and the work hardly seems to pause to place the beads. This shawl actually started an entire year of work that all includes beads of which this pattern is just the beginning. But more on that later.
Back to the class and the design; I knew that I wanted to get creative with the stitch patterns, and the logical choice was beginning with a Japanese Stitch Dictionary. If you are at all interested in stitch patterns and have not checked out a Japanese or Simplified Chinese Stitch dictionary you are missing out. Make it your mission to browse one because they are simply a goldmine of interesting techniques, ideas and stitches. The Sivia Shawl has a combination of symmetrical and asymmetrical stitch patterns that include lace, cables and nupps with placed beads. The shawl grows in a twisted 1x1 ribbing pattern between two vertical columns of an arrowhead lace pattern with beads placed on the top decreases and nupps in the middle. The asymmetrical cable column sandwiched between the arrowhead and the border is one that I designed completely myself based on a combination of stitches I was interested in. I like the tension between the symmetrical and asymmetrical patterning and I think it gives the design a sophistication that is unique. I altered the border from an existing border pattern I found, elongated it to fit my other patterning and added the cable in the middle of the scallop shape to mimic the cables in the asymmetrical border. The beads are placed every 6 rows so you do have 5 beadless rows in between, and the beads are optional because the design would look great without them as well.
Because the increasing takes place at the top of the shawl it changes the shape into something a little more unusual. The shawl curves upwards in the middle instead of downwards and as you can see from the photos it fits the body really nicely.
Looking back from here I think taking that class was really the beginning of a fairly significant pathway for me. I can see all the ideas and designs that have sprouted from what I was taught and exposed to that day and it is pretty amazing. Not to mention the warm, loving and supportive friendship I was given by Sivia which has continued as a strong mentorship which I appreciate deeply. For that among many other reasons I chose to name this shawl after the fabulous woman who gave me such a profound gift of learning. I hope you love knitting this design as much as I loved designing it, take a chance and try something new, who knows where it will take you.
Many many thanks to my ultra talented Sister in Law Chelsea Jones who took these photos for me, our lovely friend Calysta Adams who modeled in the freezing wind, and Rachel Romine of Paradise Fibers for always being infinitely supportive of my work.