Archive for April 11th, 2012

Shawl or Scarf

Let’s begin with the good stuff.  Here is a picture of the first 2 triangles of Wingspan.

It is a fun knit, but there is  one thing that I wish would have been different.  I can’t decide if I can consider this a shawl, or whether it would be more like a scarf to me.  The pattern does not tell you what size it is going to be when you are done.  The designer does suggest that you can also make it in DK yarn or Worsted, but then also adjusts the numbers.  I am guessing that the ending size is pretty similar to the one made with sock weight.  But how would you decide if you want to make it bigger, which would not be all that hard to do, if you don’t know what size it is to be begin with?

Now, having been knitting this ‘per the pattern’, I have started wondering if I would call this a shawl, which is what the pattern calls it, or whether it is really more of a scarf.  The definition of a ‘Shawl’ is, according to Google:

A piece of fabric worn by women over the shoulders or head or wrapped around a baby.

Well, I guess Wingspan does meet this definition.  Therefore it can be called a shawl.  However, I find this a very sexist, very broad definition.  Let’s see what else I can find.  The Free Dictionary, which uses The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, says:

A square or oblong piece of cloth worn as a covering for the head, neck, and shoulders.

Well, that is a little better, and not sexist.

Merriam-Webster defines it as follows:

“a square or oblong usually fabric garment or wrapper used especially as a covering for the head or shoulders”

Which is nearly the the same as the previous definition from the Free Dictionary.  I think, per the definition, a scarf would be considered a shawl.  Now, for the definition of a scarf.

A length or square of fabric worn around the neck or head.
Free Dictionary
A long piece of cloth worn about the head, neck, or shoulders.
a broad band of cloth worn about the shoulders, around the neck, or over the head

I guess they all pretty much agree on that, and I would say that at all times this falls within the definition of a shawl.  Therefore a scarf is a shawl, even if not all shawls are scarfs. This is just going to make everything confusing. In my opinion, a shawl is supposed to be bigger then a scarf. But that is clearly not part of the ‘official’ definition.

I just realized something.  Apparently one difference between a scarf and a shawl is that a shawl is worn about the head or the shoulders, and a scarf is worn about the head, NECK or the shoulders.  I guess that means if it is small enough that it can not be worn about the head or shoulders, only about the neck, it is a scarf and not a shawl!  So, maybe size, however minor is actually the one difference between a scarf and a shawl after all.  I know I am, probably nit picking.

At an estimated 10.5 inches (27 cm) deep, and 42 inches (107 cm) wide, I would be more likely to consider this a scarf. I am definitely too grown up to be able to wear something that size around my shoulders comfortably, and something narrow doesn’t really ask to be worn about the head either.  (Though maybe as a headband?  😉 )Had I known this, I would probably have tried to find a thicker yarn, used the same number of stitches, and made this scarf a little bigger, so I would consider it a shawlette at the very least. I could still easily make it longer, and maybe even deeper, but I have only one skein of this Poems Sock yarn by Wisdom Yarns. The color is 955 – Tropical Sunset. I bought it to make a pair of socks out of it, but ripped my first attempt out, because my gauge had changed quite significantly, and I was less fond of the thick thin parts that occasionally show up in this yarn.  It just didn’t look good as a sock.  But since I had ripped it out, I could now make this scarf out of it.  And I think this works wonderfully well, and because the skein is 3.5 oz (100 grams), 459 yards (420 meters), I can hopefully make the whole scarf out of just one skein, leaving me (barring any bad knots) one gorgeous stretch of changing colors.  The yarn is composed of 75% superwash wool, and 25% nylon, which also means, when I get done, it can be wash in the laundry machine on warm, and then laid out to dry.  Recommended needle is US 1-3 (2.25 – 3.25 mm), but this being a scarf, I wanted a less dense material, so I am using a US 5 (3.75 mm) needle. One skein is not enough to really make this scarf bigger, because the pattern calls for 100 grams, 400 meters to begin with.  But I do really like this yarn for the scarf, love the colors for sure!


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