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.
I’ve always loved this pattern but knew it would drive me crazy. The green is Green-tastic!
Hey, Dayana, thanks! By the way, your comment was the 1,000th comment on this blog! I think that’s pretty cool.
Also, I hear Ravelry will get to 4 million members today. 🙂
How many balls of KSH did you use, do you remember? On Rav it suggests 6 balls, but says the scarf will not be as big as in the magazine. I love yours, and part of what I love about it is how it is luxuriously huge.
Nevermind – I stalked you on Ravelry. 7 skeins.
Ha, you got to this before I could. In my mind, you definitely need the 7th ball, even if you are ready to pull your hair out by the 6th. It is all worth it in the end.
That is one absolutely gorgeous shawl – no wonder you wear is so much. Fantastic!
Wow! The shawl is just so beautiful. I’ve been looking for a special pattern for my own handspun alpaca yarn and this might just be it. Thank you for sharing 🙂
This would be super special in handspun. And impressive too.
Green? If there was green grass outside now instead of 1m of snow, I’d be rolling in it. Naked probably. Winter’s getting a bit long on this side of the pond.
I cannot believe this pattern came out in 1999/2000! I’ve been eyeing it ever since. I have 6 balls of Kidsilk Haze in colour “Heaven” sitting in my stash, destined for this project. Do I *really* need the 7th ball? (I am already sure the answer is a loud, resounding YES!)
I don’t know if I could scrounge up another ball in the same dye-lot. Sigh. Let me add that to my ever-increasing to-do list.
And thanks for the tease, that one day we’ll have leaves on the trees and green grass again.
Spring will come; it is inevitable. Just hold in there. But I’m afraid to say that this shawl will be better with 7 balls than with 6. Unless you are very short.
Love it! I just recently “discovered” shawls – Obviously, I always knew they existed, but was never one to wear scarves, drapery, etc.
then, last winter I got cold. Now I love them. In fact, I have on my go-to one today – a nice Estonian lace creation that took 2 years for the same reason yours did – too much knitting, not enough progress. But I love it, so I think I might have to try this pattern. and force my way through the boredom to a completed garment. What color? 🙂
Oh, I love Estonian lace shawls. Someday I’m going to knit one. That will certainly not be boring.
no, it isn’t boring!
Beautiful shawl and it looks great on you! I have to tell you that I love love love your blog and it is my favorite knitting (and other subject) blog. I look forward to hearing more about your knitting adventures and knowledge!
Wow! Thank you so much for this lovely comment. You made my day!
You look beautiful in your green scarf. It is a perfect go to piece!
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Sorry, I know this is an old post, but I’m about to cast this on in kidding haze, but just wanted to check that you use it single not double? Am I letting myself in for 10 balls of this??
Hi Zoe, sorry to report but the shawl is knit with just one strand of yarn, not doubled. It does feel like a long slog, but I have now knit two of these and I wear them all of the time. One happy note: I used just 7 balls of kidsilk haze for each shawl! My advice – have another knitting project on the go as well and keep this as background knitting, maybe for when you are watching TV. Good luck!
Thanks 🙂 the yarn is so beautiful! My mum asked me to knit her a cardigan in it, otherwise I would never have picked it up, but I just finished a striped cowl which gave me the excuse to order a whole bunch of colours and I straight away cast on another one… All of these ate double yarn….for the shawl I picked mist, but I’m already thinking of one in ultra, which is really bright. Lots of these colours are discontinued and I’ve found them quite cheaply, so if you were thinking of doing another one it’s a good time to get the yarn 🙂
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