Here is my finished version of the Cool Boots Shawl in neutrals:
I designed this pattern a few years ago and offered it for free on the blog to celebrate my 300th post. The original was knit in shades of red, coral, and fuchsia in fingering weight wool:
I am a bright colours kind of girl and I love this original version – I have worn it everywhere – but I had an inkling that it would also be great in neutral tones. I had some beautiful skeins of Blue Sky Fibers Metalico in Opal, Gold Dust, and Silver, and decided to give them a try.
I purchased the yarn at Tribe, a lovely yarn store in Richmond, London. Doug and I wandered in there last summer, and I spent at least an hour picking out yarn, and then just as I was checking out, I spied these beautiful skeins of Blue Sky Metalico. Milli, the very charming owner of Tribe, told me of a lovely shawl she had made some years ago from these same three shades, and I ended up putting away the other yarn and buying three skeins in each colour. They then sat in a box at home for quite a while before I had the idea to use them to knit another Cool Boots.
The yarn is gorgeous. It is a sportweight yarn, 50% alpaca and 50% silk. It is soft and silky, and has lots of bounce. It is a bit splitty to work with as it is unplied, but so soft on the hands, and it is truly luminescent. Notice the way the colours change dramatically against the white background of the top photo and the warm beiges of the photo above. (The fantastic Gold Dust really pops against the white wall, while the Opal takes prominence against the warm bricks and stone.) Notice also how transparent and airy the yarn looks against the light:
While I was knitting this, I became fairly skeptical about it. It looked so plain and unexciting compared to my more usual brights, and in particular compared to the original Cool Boots Shawl. But I must say that my opinion changed dramatically (as did the shawl) once it was blocked. The texture, post blocking, is so fantastic; its hard to describe but it is bouncy and springy. It has weight to it, but it also flows and drapes and catches the breeze:
The shawl is knit sideways, with long triangles formed by short rows; it leads to the lovely assymetry of the two sides as above. (You can see the shaping clearly if you look at the pattern post.) The only changes that I made to the pattern were to accomodate the sportweight yarn. I used a US5 needle instead of a US4, and I cast on 348 stitches instead of 380. It turned out almost the same size – it blocked out to 19″ x 70″.
There is a storm battering the UK today, but yesterday we took these photos in the lovely town of Watlington. The sun came out and the town made a perfect backdrop for a photo shoot. It even provided the answer to life, the universe, and everything:
Nevertheless, I was very happy to get back into my coat afterwards, and enjoy a coffee:
While I love the original shawl, I must admit that I do find it a bit itchy on my neck. It was knit with a very wool-y wool, and while I love the way the wool holds the garter stitch so beautifully, I have found that I am wearing it less often because of the itch factor. This shawl is cozy and soft with zero itch. So it not only looks fabulous, but it is very comfortable. Even this guy thinks it deserves a toast:
I am now cozy inside while the storm rages. I have been working on a hat this week, and it has turned out too small, but there is something rather fitting about ripping out a project during a storm; don’t you think? I have a box of homemade truffles and a cup of tea. Bliss.