Because of Reverie Yarn, Décor & Gifts’ Puppy Love Party, I wanted to create a sample out of one of the yarns they were planning on stocking, Basenji. I decided to knit the Echo Flower Shawl because of its versatility; the shawl can be knit in various sizes with one skein of Basenji. The pattern was a fantastic challenge, encouraging me to try out new techniques and stitches. It comes with two sizes, shoulderette and shawl, but can easily be adapted to any desired size. I decided to knit the shoulderette in Running Dog Nebula.
Echo Flower Shawl was designed by Jenny Johnson Johnen, who is a yarn dyer and designer from Sweden. It was her first design, and she did a brilliant job.
“This shawl was inspired by Estonian lace and especially the beautiful shawl, Laminaria, by Elizabeth Freeman. This shawl also shares the blossom stitch with that shawl. The border is inspired by various designs but mostly I had a mental picture of how I wanted it to look so I tried to transfer that mental image to a chart – and yes, it came out exactly the way I wanted.”
The pattern begins by casting on with a small crocheted cast on, and quickly goes into chart work. The first chart sets out to increase the stitch count by using “2 into 9”, which is a stitch used throughout the pattern. The premise is to knit 2 (or later, 3) stitches together, and without dropping the stitches after knitting, yarn over and knit the stitches again, repeating until 9 stitches are created. This stitch creates what appears to be a blossoming near-half circle flower design, which, when repeated throughout the shawl, is mesmerizing. The second chart continues on with this pattern, growing the shawl as it goes.
The border charts are set up oddly, but after a bit of consideration they make sense; it has one chart that is split up into 3 pieces for the sake of space. The edging goes tremendously faster than the body of the shawl does, but comes with one potential setback: nupps. This was the first time I had encountered this technique, and I’m happy I learned it. Nupps are similar to the “2 into 9” stitches as they are 7 or 9 stitches knit into one stitch, but in the next row, they are all purled together, creating a tight little ball. Many people, including I, have difficulty purling them together without losing any of the stitches. I tried a few different techniques: one with using only the knitting needles, and another using a beading crochet hook to grab the yarn to pull through the stitches. I found using the crochet hook method to be easier, and overall, more successful than using just the needles. What’s pleasant is that if one does not like to create nupps in their shawls, the nupps can easily be replaced with beads for a similar (and more shiny) effect.
Finally, the edge chart is a satisfying conclusion to the shawl: it limits the amount of nupps and mimics the body chart in the floral design. The bind off uses 2 strands of yarn which creates the illusion of a thicker edge.
The pattern is very well written, but a small word of warning: it only comes in chart form, not written form as well. I found that adding extra stitch markers in between the pattern repeats helped to keep me in check, rather than relying only on sight and stitch count. Despite the challenges of this pattern, I absolutely treasure the result; the shawl is delightfully light and squishy, and I’ll be happy for it to cover my shoulders when the weather gets cooler.
Also, the best part of this pattern: It's free on Ravelry.