Storm Cloud Shawlette: The Perfect Project For Imperfect Handspun Yarn

Two years ago, I bought some soft blue Corriedale wool with touches of yellow silk in it. The minute I saw it, I thought of fog or mist. My plan was to spin a gossamer thin yarn and make a lacy shawl with it. However, as a beginning spinner, I wasn’t sure if I could make a lace weight yarn that was elegant enough to live up to my visions for this pretty fiber. I spun other things in my stash, waiting to be good enough to make the yarn.

I mentioned how I would be spinning this fiber if only I was good enough to my friend Deb. Deb happens to know a ton about spinning and knitting, and has years of experience doing both. I’m pretty sure she can make any yarn she wants. Her advice set me free.

She said: “Go ahead and spin it up. Don’t worry if it comes out a little lumpy. Make your shawl with elongated garter stitch. It will be lacy-looking and it won’t require the fine thread a complicated lace would.”

I was flabbergasted that she thought I should just dive in and make imperfect yarn. The next day, a friend on Facebook posted photos of the shawl she had just finished, which used elongated garter stitch. I took it as a sign from the universe that I should follow Deb’s advice. I got the link to the free pattern and started spinning.

My handspun: nearly 100 grams (3.4 ounces) of naturally dyed Corriedale (indigo) and silk (marigold).
My handspun: nearly 100 grams (3.4 ounces) of naturally dyed Corriedale (indigo) and silk (marigold).

As predicted, my yarn is not perfect. I’m not even sure it’s good. But when I sat down and started knitting, I discovered I didn’t care. I was so excited to be making something with yarn I’d made myself that the lumps were easy to love, like freckles on a child’s nose.

Hanna Breetz’s Storm Cloud Shawlette pattern is quite simple to make, although I did have moments where I wasn’t paying attention. Picking up dropped stitches when you are intentionally dropping yarn-overs is a little tricky. Still, I love the results. Even better, I had some yarn left over.

The finished shawl. I've already worn it to the grocery store to fend off the air conditioning, and it worked great.
The finished shawl. I’ve already worn it to the grocery store to fend off the air conditioning, and it worked great.
And I now have an excuse to go buy a shawl pin!
And I now have an excuse to go buy a shawl pin!

If I hadn’t followed Deb’s advice, this fiber would still be waiting for me to get up the nerve to use it. Instead, I have a lovely shawl made from delicately colored wool I adore and my spinning skills are a little better than they were. Everybody wins!

Have you ever tackled a project you didn’t feel ready for? How did it turn out? Did you like the results?


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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

4 thoughts on “Storm Cloud Shawlette: The Perfect Project For Imperfect Handspun Yarn”

  1. Good on Deb for giving you the push you needed! I know from my art work that there are special things waiting for the right time, until you are a Grown-Up painter — or in your case spinner. And then you discover that you get so much joy from using the beautiful thing that it makes your heart sing! Your shawl is beautiful, and it is light and misty! I am going to check out the pattern.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know better than to save the good stuff for later (whether it’s a material or an idea) but it’s so easy to forget. The pattern is clever: simple yet effective. Enjoy!


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