Simple Gifts by Dee O'Keefe

Simple Gifts

May 2020
DK (11 wpi) ?
4.5 stitches = 1 inch
in stockinette
US 6 - 4.0 mm
US 8 - 5.0 mm
480 - 730 yards (439 - 668 m)
Medium 58 x 25” (147 x 64 cm) and Large 69 x 29" (175 x 74 cm), but size may be customized even further
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Simple Gifts is a botanically inspired, triangular shawl that features a textured panel of leaf lace flanked by a stockinette body striped with little peeks of broken ribbing. The asymmetrical shaping begins with just a few stitches which then flow into a wide panel filled with columns of stacked leaves surrounded by garter stitch and lines of single ribbing. The various textures—all of which are formed by combinations of simple stitches such as knits, purls, yarn overs and decreases—combine to form a shawl which looks somewhat complicated but is actually an easy-to-memorize, relaxing and stress-free project.

I named the shawl after Simple Gifts, an old Shaker song which inspired the joyous Variations on a Shaker Melody section of Aaron Copland’s masterpiece Appalachian Spring. I like to think of the act of knitting as a simple gift—one that is always there when we need it and which soothes our souls by the repetitive process of wrapping yarn around a stick, forming each stitch one at a time, until they all combine to form a piece of knitted magic. Musical links to Simple Gifts and to Variations on a Shaker Melody section from Appalachian Spring may be found at the bottom of this page.

The Simple Gifts pattern includes both charts and full written out instructions for those of you who prefer not to use charts.

While dimensions and yardage are provided for DK weight, Simple Gifts could effectively be worked in worsted, sport or even fingering weight as well. A solid or tonal yarn is highly recommended to showcase the intricacy of the panel design. The shawl is offered in two sizes, medium (pictured in lilac and periwinkle) and large (pictured in aqua); instructions are included should you wish to further customize the size, which is easy to do by working additional Chart 4 repeats. The dark red shawl is worked at a custom size of 6X Chart 4 repeats. Also included are detailed blocking instructions.

SIZE AND YARDAGE: The medium size of 58 x 25” (147 x 64 cm) shawls were knitted with 490 yards (448 m) each of Hazel Knit Lively DK (the lilac colored shawl used the “Heaven Scent” colorway and the periwinkle colored shawl used the “Terrywinkle” colorway). The large size of 69 x 29” (175 x 74 cm) shawl, pictured in aqua, was knitted with 690 yards (631 m) of Hikoo Sueño Tonal in the “Succulent Tonal” colorway. The dark red, custom-sized sample (6X Chart 4) used 560 yards (512 m) of The Fibre Co. Acadia yarn in the “Rosebay” colorway. It measures 64 x 27” (163 x 69 cm).

The yardage range at the top of this page is determined by averaging test knitter yardage data. But for those of you who are looser knitters and have a limited amount of yarn, you may wish to consider going down a needle size to be on the safe side.

CONSTRUCTION: Simple Gifts starts at the narrow end of the lace panel with four stitches cast on. On the panel edge, there is a 3-stitch border composed of a slipped stitch followed by two garter stitches. The same border is also used along the wingspan edge, which has a make-one-right increase on each right-side row and is the longest side of the triangle. The panel edge is the second-longest side of the triangle; the bind-off edge is the shortest side.

NEEDLES: I used US 6/4.0mm needles for the main part of the shawl, then bound off with US 8/5.0mm. If working the medium size, a 24” (60 cm) cable should be long enough, but if working a larger size, you may wish to use (or eventually switch to) the longer 32” (80 cm) cable length.

Special thanks to my talented and fabulous friend Paula Feldman for knitting the lovely dark red Arcadia sample as well as her unwavering good nature and and positivity.

Click on this link to listen to Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss performing a cello and voice version of Simple Gifts.

Click on this link to hear the Variations on a Shaker Melody section of Appalachian Spring.