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Shawl vs. shawlette

Just what the heck IS a shawlette?  How is a shawlette different from a shawl?

Here’s my answer, not necessarily the textbook answer:

Shawlettes are small shawls. Anything ending in “-ette” tends to be smaller or more petite.

A shawl can mean many things to many people.  For instance, I’ve seen very wide scarves called shawls (I think of those as “wraps” or “stoles”).

In fact, according to Merriam-Webster (the dictionary), a shawl is “a square or oblong usually fabric garment or wrapper used especially as a covering for the head or shoulders,” originating from the Persian shāl and first used in the late 1600’s (if you’re a word geek like me, this just filled you with a bit of happiness).

A long oblong that’s more narrow than a shawl is simply a … scarf.

But a circular or triangular shawl that’s smaller than the generous, cozy traditional shawl can be a shawlette.

Does it matter what we call it?  No.  Maybe.  Yes.  What do you think?

I don’t know about you, but the thought of knitting a large, lace shawl is overwhelming.  But the thought of knitting a shawlette is doable.  A shawlette might take a couple of dedicated weeks to knit.  A shawl would likely take me more than a month to knit.

Also, shawlettes are often one skein projects, which makes them popular choices for that delicious skein of hand dyed or painted yarn that you’ve been hoarding.  (Not that you ever do that.  Yeah, me neither.)

And let’s be real.  Finding a major mistake in the middle or even beginning of your huge lace shawl that requires frogging in order to finish your shawl properly is … a deal breaker.  Not that this has every happened to me.  🙂  The same is not as horrendous with a shawlette.

I love shawlettes.  I love designing them, knitting them, wearing them.  Call it a triangle scarf, kerchief or shawlette:  I love ’em.  And I’m working on a few more designs (and am working on the patterns for those you’ve been patiently waiting for).  I’m hoping to make all available with more than enough time for Christmas gift knitting.

But what about you?  Love ’em?  Hate ’em?  Scared by ’em?  And if so, what would make them a little less scary?

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Bev July 28, 2011, 5:12 PM

    Hi There,
    I love shawls over shawlettes. As a matter of fact the one that you had on here last week I think it was I want to make into a shawl and the person that dyes the yarn is dying me 2 skeins and she told me to check with you to see if that is enough and what do I need to do to make it longer?
    I love your projects, I just happen to prefer shawls.
    I am working on one right now and turns out there was an error in the pattern (NOT your pattern) and I didn’t realize it until 900 yards later, so now I’m starting over again. I thought it seemed like too many stitches, but I figured what do I know, guess I should have gone with my instincts! It was painful to take it all apart, at least I know I like it a lot. We have a wedding to go to that is over an hour away and I know what I’ll be doing on the ride, too bad it would be rude to knit at the wedding!

    I am looking forward to making your pattern up!
    Have a great weekend.
    Thanks for all your posts,

  • Bev July 28, 2011, 5:16 PM

    I think the one I want to make longer is the Soleil, is that easy to make longer. Originally was this pattern only available through Sunshine yarns? Is the pattern available for the shawlette that is on this page and is this an easy modification to make it longer?
    I love your work,

  • brenda July 28, 2011, 5:33 PM

    Hi Bev! Yes, Soleil is now available separately: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/soleil-lace-shawlette

    And you can definitely make it larger! Just keep knitting the body. You’ll need multiples of 12 + 3 for the finished body (the knitted on edge is in multiples of 12 and then 3 additional to turn, although you could play with the # of stitches for the turn).

    Thank you for your kind words! xo

  • Tia July 28, 2011, 5:38 PM

    Personally, I prefer shawlettes! The main reasons being:

    1) They are quicker to knit up

    2) They definitely are a nice way to exhibit a skein of sock yarn/DS your sock yarns as you’ve mentioned

    3) They are easier to block in my eensy weensy apartment

    4) I find them more versatile for wearing (tied around the waist, long enough to cover my whole back, wrapped around neck scarf-like, around head, etc).

    I am kind of on the smaller side, though, so the size of shawlettes suit me nicely. I love larger shawls, too, but find I can’t wear them as easily when I’m working.

    Definitely making the Soleil soon, now that I’ve got my mitts on it. Just have to decide on which yarn…

  • Tia July 28, 2011, 5:40 PM

    Just saw your cupcake colorway. OMG, so pretty! Do you have a knit sample pic of it, or is it completely brand new?

  • brenda July 28, 2011, 5:47 PM

    Hi Tia! Oh thank you for the kind words! I only had the two skeins dyed up for cupcake, one of which has gone to a new home, so no sample or swatch available … The color repeats are super short, so you’d get maybe 1 to 3 stitches out of each color (fun!). 🙂

  • Dianne April 19, 2015, 5:02 PM

    Hi..LOVE this little scarf or shawlette..anyway…I am planning to try it as my FIRST attempt at a shawl for my Mom for Mother’s Day! Thanks…

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