Inside: This knit lace shawl pattern is neither a Shetland Lace Shawl nor a Mosaic Shawl, so why did I name it Shetland Mosaic Shawl. Read on to find out!
This shawl is not a Shetland shawl.
This shawl does not use any mosaic knitting in it.
I know, I know.
Why the heck did I call it Shetland Mosaic if this is not a Shetland Shawl and it doesn’t have any mosaic knitting in it?!?
Am I crazy?
Perhaps. But that is not pertinent to this conversation.
Shetland shawls inspired the Shetland Mosaic Shawl. It uses some of the beautiful Shetland stitch patterns laid out in a mosaic arrangement. It is also just one of the gorgeous shawls and wraps in the new Knit Picks’ book “Sojourn: A Knit Lace Collection.”
I included stitch patterns from the fine lace shawls that women of the Shetland Islands have spun and knit for sale to tourists and wealthy patrons abroad for almost two centuries. The gorgeous shawls knit by these women inspired the shape, the construction and definitely the stitch patterns used throughout.
How This is Not a Shetland Shawl
Traditional Shetland shawls are knit:
- using a different construction,
- using different yarns and of course,
- on a garter stitch ground,
- using only traditional patterns for the most part,
- on the Shetland Islands
How Does the Construction Differ from Shetland Shawls? How is it the Same?
While the shawl construction was based on traditional Shetland Hap shawls, no traditional Shetland shawls use this construction.
Rather, the Shetland Mosaic Shawl is a variation of the centre panel construction of the more modern version of traditional Hap shawls.
These traditional Hap start with one stitch and then grow on every row to the widest part. Next, decreases narrow this triangle into a bias square. Then, stitches are picked up all the way around for the border. Often these shawls end with an edging worked perpendicular to the border. Finally the last few stitches are grafted together with the first few stitches of the edging.
Shetland Mosaic also builds from a few stitches. In contrast to many of the Shetland shawls, the side borders and edges are worked with the body as opposed to at the end.
After reaching the widest part of the body, the edging is shaped around a corner. Top row body stitches are decreased away as the edging is worked along the top of the shawl (similar to the edging of traditional Shetland shawls). Then it is shaped around the last corner and grafted to the remaining edging stitches on the left side of the shawl.
The construction of the Shetland Mosaic is based on elements of traditional Shetland shawls, it is not a traditional Shetland construction.
Why Choose this Construction?
1. There is a lot going on with this shawl, the edging, the border, the stitch patterns that change as you work across each row. I wanted a beautiful yet simple shape to showcase that and to allow the knitter to focus on making stitches rather than on what to do next structurally.
Other than the odd short rows, there are no structural changes until after the body is complete.
The corners require some focus but are not difficult. And once you turn the first corner, it’s clear sailing to the last corner. Then turn the last corner, graft a few stitches. And you are done!
2. I am not a huge fan of casting on or binding off. So, when it makes sense in a design, I love when I can reduce the number of cast on and bind off stitches!
In this shawl, there is virtually no cast on and there is no bind off!
That makes me happy. I love to knit and don’t quite understand why I am not a big fan of casting on and binding off. After all, both techniques use the same basic stitches as knitting. Somehow the cast on and the bind off seem so much more tedious than even endless acres of garter stitch.
Why isn’t Shetland Mosaic Knit in Cobweb Shetland Yarn
Short answer: I wanted to knit this in a fingering weight, luxury yarn, so I chose Knit Picks’ Gloss Fingering.
Why isn’t the Shawl on a Garter Stitch Ground?
Many, if not most, traditional Shetland Shawls are knit on a garter stitch ground. That is, every row of flat knitting is based on knit stitches. This works beautifully with very fine yarns and with Hap shawls. However, in a fingering yarn ( Knit Picks Gloss fingering weight), the garter ground would distract from the overall look and feel of the lace.
If you opt to knit this shawl in a cobweb weight yarn, I highly encourage you to knit the wrong side rows. When working with fingering weight yarns, stick with the pattern as written.
The Stitch Patterns
I love all the stitch patterns that I included. They are based on traditional Shetland patterns. I tweaked them a bit to make them my own and to give the whole shawl a harmonious look.
All this makes for interesting knitting as things change as you work across each row. It is easy to get into the rhythm of the stitches once each diamond is established, it does require some care and concentration to ensure that you are following the pattern.
This may not be ideal TV knitting or social knitting, but the pattern is a satisfying knit for anyone who is willing to apply focus. None of the stitches i particularly complex or difficult or new —except perhaps for the one bunny ear decrease that may be new to many knitters. However, the changing patterns throughout the shawl do require more focus than many shawls using similar stitch patterns.
Was it Knit on the Shetland Islands?
I wish I could say this shawl was knit on the Shetland Islands, but I cannot. I have never been to Shetland, though I desperately want to go.
Why aren’t there any Nupps or Gathered or Twisted or Cabled Stitches?
I based this shawl on Shetland shawls. You will not find any nupps, gathered, twisted or cabled stitches because these are not traditionally used on Shetland. Shetland is known for its lace and colourwork, not for textured stitches. Even these two traditions are rarely combined. The exception is Hap shawls which usually have a plain centre panel with a striped lace border and edging.
Who Should Knit this Shawl?
Any knitter with some lace knitting experience should be able to successfully knit this shawl given time to concentrate and focus.
So, crazy or not, I designed this shawl based on beloved Shetland lace patterns and construction. The name is a tribute to that rich tradition and expertise that has brought me so much joy.
Thank You Shetland Knitters
While this is not a Shetland Shawl, in this design, I pay homage to all the knitters of Shetland. Thank you for your innovation, skill and artistic expression!