Today is Wednesday and it’s time for another Wearability Wednesday post. For those not in the know, this is an occasional series on the blog where I look back at something I’ve knit and examine it from a Wearability standpoint: do I actually wear it? How do I style it? Has it stood up to wear? The focus of today’s WW post is the absolutely gorgeous cabled rib shawl:
This shawl was designed by Lily M. Chin and published in the Winter 1999/2000 edition of Vogue Knitting (where it is called #02 Reversible Cabled-Rib Shawl); you can find the Ravelry link here. I think it is likely that this is the single most-worn item of any I have ever knitted. I love everything about it.
It is not a knit for the easily bored. Knitting this takes endurance. It is not a difficult or complicated knit. It is, however, very long and repetitive. This might be why the project took me so long to finish. I fell in love with it when I first saw it. (Thanks, Mom, for shipping copies of Vogue Knitting to me all over the world for so many years!) I waited until October of 2008 to cast on, however. This may have been aided by the fact that by then I lived in England and I could purchase Kidsilk Haze from my local department store.
I didn’t finish knitting it until July 2010. It of course does not take 22 months to knit this unless you keep throwing it into a box and letting it sit for months on end while working on other projects. I did this at least three times due to extreme boredom and tedium. If you plan on knitting this, do as I say not as I do: This shawl will be one of the best things you ever knit! DO NOT consign it to your WIP pile. Plow ahead and finish it and you will never regret it.
Why do I love this shawl? I love its delicacy; if you hold it up to the light it is practically transparent. It is surprisingly warm. The cables give it a sense of movement and fluidity. It is very long and can be worn in so many ways, draped over the arms, wrapped two to three times around the neck, tossed over your shoulder. It looks great with jeans and a t-shirt, it looks fabulous and classy with a dress. I wear it in all seasons, as a shawl and as a scarf. I bundle up in it in the winter and wear it on a summer’s evening.
What do I love most about this shawl? It’s colour. It is green, glorious green! I never get tired of this colour. It cheers me up on dreary days. It adds impact to a simple outfit. It stands out in a crowd. It gets noticed. It is uplifting. As Kermit the Frog sings:
But green’s the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like a mountain
Or important like a river
Or tall like a tree
from “Bein’ green” by Joe Raposo
I frequently think about knitting another one. Yes, it really is worth all of that effort. My only hesitation is to find the perfect colour to knit it in. I have seen beautiful examples of this knit in the palest of colours – pearl grey, ivory, soft pink. It is truly lovely in these soft shades. But I want something vibrant and alive – a rich, deep red, a gorgeous purple, even brilliant oranges and yellows (not my usual choices) appeal. When I first saw this green sitting in with the Kidsilk Haze in the shop, I had to buy it. My choice was made before I even was aware of it. So, I suppose I am waiting for a colour to grab me by the throat and say “Knit me! Knit ME!”
I have also seen many examples of this knit in different yarns including some worsted weight wools. To me, however, this shawl demands a light, soft, beautiful mohair – it is made for Kidsilk Haze. I think that if you are going to spend thousands of hours knitting in virtually endless ribbing (perhaps a slight exaggeration) to produce a garment that you will wear countless times, then you should splurge and buy the very best.
Not a month goes by when I don’t wear this shawl. The photos from my back garden (with me in a white t-shirt) where taken by Emma in October 2010. The photos in Tucson (black dress) are from April 2012, while the one on the bridge (purple turtleneck) was taken on campus a few metres from my office, just last week. Here is one taken yesterday (as you may be able to tell, we are having an unseasonably warm February):
Well, dear readers, that’s it for this edition of Wearability Wednesday. Lily Chin’s Reversible Cabled Rib Shawl is a completely successful knit in every way; one that is both beautifully wearable and that wears beautifully.