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Lady of Rohan Shawl

This shawl started on our honeymoon. It’s almost impossible for me to travel without finding a local yarn store to visit, and our honeymoon in Grand Junction, CO was no exception. When we entered the shop, I noticed the rich colors of Amano Yarns “Ayni,” and as soon as I felt its supple softness, I was sold. I walked out of the store with a shawl’s quantity, but I didn’t yet have any idea exactly what kind of shawl it was going to be.

By the time our honeymoon was over and we were driving to our new home in Phoenix, I had cast on with a vague notion of where the design was going. Since we were on our way to live in one of the hottest cities in the US, I knew I wanted a finished object that would be airy enough to wear comfortably even in warmer temperatures, so I decided to work with US size 6 needles, even though the label called for a size 4. The resulting fabric perfectly embodied the vision I had started with.

The large chevron emerged almost at once and is the central design element. It’s a pretty simple technique with striking results. I had also decided I wanted to play with texture in this design, so I found six simple stitch patterns to alternate between.

This is only my third knitting design to be released as a pattern, but I have many more designs in progress or in my head. Most of these designs are inspired by characters from the works of my favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien. This shawl did not start with a specific Tolkien character as inspiration, but early on in the designing process it began to remind me of Eowyn, and she quickly became an influence in my design process.

Eowyn is a lady of the Rohirrim, a people possessing rich heritage and lore, grounded by their love of horses and their connection with the land they inhabit–Rohan. The rich colors and textures as well as the strong lines of the chevron motif speak to this heritage and her place as a lady of the royal household. Yet there is an air of rustic grace to the people of Rohan, especially when compared to the magisterial grandeur of their Gondorian neighbors to the south. This rustic quality is captured in the texture of the fiber as well as in subtle design elements such as the purl bump rows at the beginning of each new section.

In the end, this design is an attempt to capture the strength and royalty of a shield-maiden of Rohan while also acknowledging the rustic beauty of her people’s heritage.

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