Wednesday, March 11, 2015

EASY-KNIT BED SHAWL

A knitted bed shawl offers comfort & warmth.
Spring may be just around the corner but we will still have cool nights for quite some time. And while we like to read, knit or watch television in bed, it can be just too cold in the bedroom to sit up in bed for more than a few minutes. Also, when we are ready to sleep, it's not easy to keep the heavy bed covers pulled up all the way to the head. So, while it may be considered an old-fashioned clothing item, a warm bed shawl is a great thing to have.

Here’s a practical pattern for a bed shawl that can be made up in less than a week working only a couple of hours per day. The wrap is put on over the head and worn just draped over the shoulders with out the need for buttons or ties. It's a kind of a short poncho, worn with the diagonal points in the front and back.

You can make one for yourself. It will also make a great gift for a family member or friend. I’m planning to make several in the next few months to give as gifts. This kind of wrap also offers warmth and comfort to people who are in need of special support as they face illnesses or other serious problems in life.

The bed shawl shown in the photo is a vintage item that I found at a thrift shop. (I haven't finished making one for myself but I'll post a pic of it when it's ready.)

I’ve studied this particular shawl a bit to see how it’s made. It turns out to be a very simple pattern that can go together fast. Here are my instructions for making this kind of wrap.

Bed shawl instructions
As before mentioned, I tend to give only general ideas about how to go about these projects. They are not full instructions, but general guides, given to encourage you to knit or crochet simple garments and other useful things for the home. Besides, once you get motivated, you will find dozens of detailed patterns on the Internet for knitting and crocheting almost anything that you can think of.

Use size 8 straight needles and worsted weight yarn in 4 different colors or, perhaps, for a more updated look you might choose varying tones of the same color. This is good project to help use up yarn in your project leftovers bag. It can probably be done with a total of about 12 ounces of medium weight worsted yarn. You'll work with a single strand. You might also crochet the squares. If you opt for crochet, it might be better to use a light weight worsted yarn and the corresponding hook.

The bed shawl is made of four 11-inch squares crocheted together. That makes for a total of about 24 inches square plus fringe. You can knit your shawl a longer length, if you want, and use any combination of colors for the squares.

To knit one very much like the one shown, you might use a basket stitch. But, lacking patience, the basket stitch is too complicated for me. So, I expect I’ll make the squares in a simpler way. Here I’m thinking about using either the twisted stockinette or the seed stitch. Most any stitch, simple or complex, will work out fine. You’ll find instructions for making different kinds of knit stitches in books and on the Internet. 

Begin the shawl making the first square. Cast on 48 stitches (or the number of stitches that you need to make the length you want). Keep knitting these rows until the piece is square. Then bind off the stitches. Make all four squares. Then crochet the edges of the squares with a simple edging stitch using the same or contrasting yarn. Remember you should always crochet edges on the front side. Weave the shawl together with the same color yarn as the edges, leaving a four-inch opening on all adjacent squares for the neck opening.

Finally, add an outer decorative edge to keep the edges of the squares from rolling up. You can put a simple fringe on the edges or you can crochet a decorative edge. Your shawl will look better if you use a bold color for the fringe.  There are plenty of instructions for making fringes and decorative edges on the Web.

When the edging is finished, weave in any ends of yarn. Wash the bed shawl in warm water, towel dry it, and block it by pinning it to a towel laid out flat. As it dries, check it to make sure that it maintains its overall square shape.

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