I signed up for an international shawl swap on a whim at the very last minute. The arrangement is not complicated: each participant filled out a survey about their favourite things to knit and favourite things to wear, and the swap coordinators matched each knitter with a recipient according to those preferences. The pace is relaxed—finished shawls get sent out in January, so everyone gets a nice little pick-me-up in the mail right when it seems like winter has gone on for too long. February is grey and interminable here, and thinking about getting an awesome present—and getting to prepare an awesome present for someone else—is already making me excited.
It's taken a couple of weeks of thinking, swatching, and thinking some more, but I think I've finally got the right idea. Here's the first stage:
I was inspired by Jared Flood's beautiful Terra shawl. The main area inside the lace border he used is quite plain, but it's very elegant because of the yarn he chose and the slightly loose gauge it's knitted at. I'll use a different edging pattern than Jared did, and my shawl will be a rectangle rather than a triangle, but I want it to have the same vibe—the centre of this shawl will also involve stripes of garter stitch. I love plain knits that are elevated by the yarn they're made from.
The plan is to knit one border-and-centre unit and another border piece, and then graft them together. I value symmetry and can't stand it when edges are differently scalloped, so I am not allowed to complain about having to graft a hundred stitches. To use up as much yarn as possible, I'll knit the border by itself first, followed by the border and centre together; then I'll only need to reserve a few feet of yarn to graft with.
Speaking of the yarn, dear swap partner, I think you'll really like it! It's 80% ultrafine alpaca, 20% silk, from a farm that was local to me until recently. It's cashmere-soft—when I touched it in the store I had a hard time believing it wasn't cashmere. It has a slight halo and a very subtle sheen from the silk content, and it drapes like you wouldn't believe.
I'm going to block it lightly—I want the garter stripes in the border to really pop, and the lace portion to recede behind them a little. The lace is really there to shape the fabric into scallops, not to be delicate in its own right.