Shirley Keeldar shawl by Elizabeth Felgate
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Shirley Keeldar shawl

Knitting
February 2015
Aran (8 wpi) ?
Gauge is not critical for this pattern.
US 7 - 4.5 mm
766 yards (700 m)
As written this is a very big shawl with a drop from the spine of about 49in from the top of the spine to bottom or 68 inches from the top of the wing to the base of the spine. The wingspan in 83 in along the curve or 43 in a straight line.
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“There was a natural grace in her attitude, and there was artistic effect in the ample and shining folds of her silk dress - an attire simply fashioned, but almost splendid from the shifting brightness of its dye, warp and woof being of tints deep and changing as the hue on a pheasant’s neck”

This is the second in my series of shawls based on Charlotte Bronte characters and has two options - for a full lace shawl or one with a stockinette body and lace edging.

Proud, spirited and just a little dangerous, Shirley Keeldar is the rich heiress of the Charlotte Brontë novel of the same name. We first meet Shirley as the gracious lady of the manor, her arms full of garden flowers and so this shawl starts with a neat flower garden. But we soon learn that although cultivated, this woman is not wholly domesticated. I’ve given the second part of this shawl an almost impenetrable jungle of leaves to reflect the natural habitat of her inner tiger. It ends (of course) with wedding bands…

Construction & skills

This is a top-down heart-shaped shawl (that is, like a triangle, but with a much wider, curving wingspan).

It begins with a traditional flower lace pattern, chosen because it was sourced from a lace sampler of approximately the same date as the writing of the novel. This is true lace, patterned on both sides without resting rows and rows where the stitch count varies. This section does provide a fair degree of challenge, but is small and in the heavy yarn suggested would therefore be a good way to attempt 2-sided lace for the first time.

The main body of the shawl is custom designed lace which is patterned on the right side only and is very easy for the experienced lace knitter.

It finishes with a simple faggotted border and a lovely variation on a standard picot bind off.

Despite the size this is a relatively quick knit.

Size
It is possible to resize the shawl by adding or omitting repeats of the two main charts. The stunning version by janetknitwitch used just two skeins of Caitlin Aran by Posh - approx 420yds, showing what can be achieved with more modest yarn usage.

Yarn choices
For my shimmering red sample I used the last word in luxury yarns - Sylvia Aran by Posh Yarns - who dye yarns with the depth and complexity of colour I wanted for this one. The silk content gives it the richness and sheen and the drape provides negligent grace that is part of Shirley’s character. Aran or worsted yarns will be ideal for this. It would also work in chunky for a really huge shawl and DK for something daintier.

I actually really only used a tiny amount of the 5th skein - just a 3rd of the bind off. If you are careful you could probably squeeze it into 4.

More about Charlotte Bronte and shawls

And for those who share both passions I have written two blog posts to accompany this series that may be of interest.

The first was on Knitting and Needlecraft in Charlotte Bronte novels

The new post is secifically on Shawls in Charlotte Bronte and what they signify in the novels