“Sweetness of tint, purity of air and grace of mien,” so Charlotte Bronte styles her gentle and pensive heroine Caroline in her novel Shirley. So I gave this shawl the blue of pure air, the grace of a flowing leaf lace motif, and a few sweet finishing touches.
This is a large shawl to reflect the epic scope of the novel and because during my researches into Victorian shawls in preparation for this series, I was awed by the huge size that shawls grew to match the growing width of the skirt during the first half of the 19th century. Of course you don’t have to make it so large - it can easily be resized both width and length-wise.
To reflect the many reversals of fortune that Caroline faces, the knitting changes direction 3 times but all comes together in a fairy tale conclusion.
Construction and skills
This stole begins with a provisional cast on, and is knit out in both directions from the centre with a traditional leaf motif. The lace is patterned on both sides and you will need to be comfortable with creating yarnovers of all types. It is continued knit in the round, using the live stitches left at either end and stitches picked up at the side using the super-easy selvedge technique that prepares nice obvious loops on every other row. In the round you knit a very easy little lace motif that was designed especially for this piece and which I’m calling “locket lace” for the secret locket that Caroline wears. Finally stitches are cast on for a knit on-border which is grafted together at the end for a seamless finish (also designed specifically for this shawl) - a frothy happy ending with a bridal feeling.
I used a lace yarn held double because whilst this adds height and width to the stitch so that gauge is roughly equivalent to fingering, it adds less bulk than using the heavier weight, keeping the whole piece airy and shimmering. However, there is no reason why this piece cannot be worked in fingering, lace held single (see lilac example by tester Suduja) (bearing in mind you’ll need more repeats of the pattern to get the same length & width) or even heavier yarns, as the beautiful dark blue example in DK by tester Bowmanville shows.
The yarns I’ve listed all have similar qualities to the yarn I used (which was the Rooster delightful lace) but this will be equally beautiful and even more airy in a pure silk yarn. Or any wool, silk, or alpaca blend should give you beautiful results, although the drape of the fabric may vary. The only real requirement is that you can block the yarn successfully.
I have included two options in the pattern, the XL version as shown in my sky blue sample and a narrower large version (which will still make a very generous scarf or smaller stole at the gauge given). It is easy to adapt both width and lengthwise and full instructions are included for this. Testers adapted the stole successfully to a variety of sizes using different weights of yarn.
A circular needle with a really long cable is recommended. Stitch markers are optional. Tapestry needle for grafting and sewing in ends.
charts and written instructions for the lace patterns
written instructions or links to tutorial included for:
Provisional cast on
Applied (knitted-on) border