The Travel Shawl

Travel Shawl 2

I might be in love with the Travel Shawl.

Folded in half it’s a cozy shoulder wrap.

Travel Shawl 6adj

Opened up, it’s a bigger wrap.

Travel Shawl 3

Or even a small blanket.

Travel Shawl 1

And it’s a fairly quick knit. I knit all but a tiny bit of the beginning and the outer edge during a few weeks in November. 

Travel Shawl 4

This turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected in the discovery department. I’ve knit enough lace to feel like I’m not a total novice, but I hadn’t ever seen a set-up like this. The pattern directions tell you to cast on, give you instructions for an increase round, and then refer you to the first chart: “Begin pattern from Chart A; work Rnds 1-28 once . . .” etc. What you’re just supposed to know is that you have to knit the chart four times to accomplish one round. 

You’re also supposed to know what to do as your stitch count increases. I did not know. 

Thank goodness for Tin Can Knits. A bit of searching brought me to their super helpful explanation of how to read lace charts. It all makes perfect sense once you get the basic idea. You knit the first section of edge stitches for each quadrant and then knit the center, stitch-repeat section as many times as you can while still having enough stitches left to knit the edge stitches at the end. In their words: “. . . you would work the edge stitches one time, then work the ‘repeat’ stitches as many times as possible (always reading the set of instructions from right to left on right side rows), before ending with the edge stitches at the end of row.” Once I understood the logic, I was off and running.

Travel Shawl 7

As I do more lace shawl knitting, I think it’ll be interesting to see how many designers assume their audience knows these things about how lace charts work. In the heat of the moment, I felt a little grumpy about having to search for the information I needed to make sense of the pattern. Now that I have a little distance, I view it more as an interesting question than anything. What basic knowledge and skills should knitters be expected to bring to the average project? It’s absurd to think that every pattern would start from square one, but if a pattern doesn’t start there, then where? 

Travel Shawl 5


  1. That’s gorgeous, Melinda! Your determination and perseverance are admirable. One of the things I find frustrating is the assumption of designers that knitters know things that they might not know. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve quit every lace pattern I’ve tried. I don’t think a supplied link or a ‘in case you’re new to this, here is a resource that might help you’ section of the pattern would be nice to include. Not having a lot of time to knit, it’s a challenge to step out of the box and try to learn something new when you know you’ll be frustrated, upset and ‘wasting’ time trying to figure something out that the author assumes you’ll know. Having a “this is not for beginners or faint of heart’ disclaimer might be good, too! Rock on, Sistah!

    • melinda

      Yep – I can’t see why it would ever hurt to direct people to resources for knowledge or skills necessary to successfully knit a pattern but not provided by the designer. I wonder if we’re in the minority, though. Over a hundred people have knit the pattern and posted details on Ravelry, and I didn’t find a single one who mentioned having these difficulties.

Talk to me!