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The Wedding Shawl Saga

In April 2011, I got engaged to this guy.

After the congratulations and craziness settled down to a dull roar, I dove into wedding planning wholeheartedly. I chose my wedding gown with relative ease; I ruminated over color choices, but ultimately made a decision without breaking a sweat; we chose our venue in a hurried August afternoon and had signed the contract and paid the deposit by the following week. I was a bit amazed at how smoothly the planning process was going; every decision seemed to fall right into our laps; sure, there were tasks to be completed, but we had everything under control, right?

Until, that is, I came to the wedding shawl.

A wedding shawl seems to be a silly thing to get hung up on. After all, shawls don’t play an important part in the day; they’re just a pretty accessory, something to drape across your shoulders, keep you a bit warmer, and look nice in the photographs. But I am a knitter. No, let me rephrase that. I live knitting. In the six years since I picked up that first skein of yarn and turned it into an ugly hat, I’ve become joyously obsessed with fiber, yarn and needles. I’ve based great triumphs and great failures on what I’ve cast on for, and what I’ve had to frog completely. My yarn stash is a source of both great pride and embarrassment. So, in my mind, the wedding shawl wasn’t just important–it had to be perfect.

So began the saga of the wedding shawl, which began in July 2011 and ended, just now, in May 2012. After much agonizing about the pattern, the color and the yarn, I chose to knit Citron, a simple half-circle shawl with a feminine ruffle, using Malabrigo Merino Lace. I chose pearly white seed beads to accent each section, and bound off the ruffle with a bead on every other stitch.

I loved the way it turned out. But as time went on, I had a lingering feeling of discontent. The shawl was quite warm, and we were going to be married in September, which, in Kentucky, is typically a warm month. It was elegant and simple, but was it too simple? And did I really want to wear a blue shawl? These thoughts seem silly to me, even now. But I insisted to myself that if I wasn’t completely satisfied, I had time to make another.

And so I did.

Shawl #2 was carefully chosen. I wanted something white, semi-circular, floral and intricate, but not too busy. The Blooming Stitch Shawl, knit with Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, fit all of these requirements. It was an enjoyable knit: nice on the hands, with a fun Estonian flower stitch in the pattern repeat. When I bound it off and blocked it, I was ecstatic. The lace grew beautifully into graceful blooms that I knew would look lovely cascading from my shoulders and down my back.

But my heart sank when I tried it on. Once blocked, the bottom crescent hardly brushed past my shoulder blades; it was more of a scarf than a shawl. But it was only February at this point. I still had time to make one more attempt.

I’m the first knitter in my family; I don’t come from a long line of knitters or even crafters. So when I told my mother and sister of my plans to knit my wedding shawl, I was met with gentle puzzlement. They didn’t understand why the project was so important to me, and their puzzlement only grew as I cast on for a second shawl after deeming the first one unfit. But when the third shawl was announced, their puzzlement grew into a barely concealed alarm. “Why are you making another one?” my mom wanted to know. “What’s wrong with the other two you made?”

The thought had crossed my mind. I wondered if I was just being crazy, if my knitter’s vanity and the stress of wedding planning was getting the best of me. After all, what was so wrong with the first one? Even the second shawl would work. Maybe it was just time to throw in the towel; it wasn’t as if I didn’t have plenty of other wedding-related tasks to attend to.

But I couldn’t let it go. And so, from February to May, I was of single mind and single purpose. From humble beginnings, a circular shawl, knit with Unique Sheep Eos, began to grow. From eight stitches it grew to 144, then to 280, then, finally to 560 stitches per round.

It grew–

–and grew–

–and grew some more.

Until it became this.

And finally, without question, without even a haggling little doubt remaining, I knew this was the shawl. It is unquestionably the best thing I’ve ever knit. I’m so very, very proud of it, and I can’t wait to wear it in September.

Now, onto the bridesmaids’ shawls.


Rachel is a Craft Editor by day and a knitting addict aficionado by night. In addition to knitting, she reads, bakes really terrible cornbread muffins, and spends way too much time on Ravelry. She can be found as rachelthepeach on Ravelry, and just plain Rachel on this blog. She lives in Northern Kentucky with her fiancé, two dogs, two rabbits, and way too much yarn.

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