You, my dear, need a crochet shawl. (Or a hand crocheted shrug. But I’m focusing.)
Graceful shawls, wraps, and stoles were one of the daily delights of most women up until the 1930s. Houses had no central heating or insulation, so a shawl was welcome warmth while still looking delicate and being flattering.
Moonlit Memory has spent months working on an original shawl pattern and our first accidental shawl.
Kashmir, India adopted the shal and their fine wool versions became renowned. By 1700, they were a sought-after luxury for women in Western Europe, where the word was altered to shawl.
The Victorian era saw a love of Oriental designs. Silk shawls embroidered with dragons, pagodas, and exotic birds were shipped from China to the port of Manila, Spain. These inspired the “Spanish shawl” that lengthened the fringe and changed the motifs to ones with local meaning, particularly roses and lilies.
Meanwhile, crochet was invented in Europe, with the earliest known example being from 1800. Intricate openwork shawls were created with crochet. Different forms of crochet were improvised all over Europe as an alternative to true lace, which took so long to hand make with threads that only the richest could afford it.
With Industrial Revolution, machines were made that could mass-produce basic lace and lace shawls became possible for the new Middle Class. Eventually, knitting also came to be done by machine, which helped lead to the demise of the shawl in favor of the sweater. (Most crochet in stores today is machine made, but it took longer to come up with the method and many crochet stitches can still only be hand-crafted.)
Yes, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) really did wear a shawl! While it is fun to picture that dark craggy head emerging out of a cloud of lacey white, men’s shawls were more blanket-like: dark colors, woven fabric, houndstooth or border patterns, with thick short fringe. A man wearing a shawl was not uncommon at the time, but it was surprising for the circumstances. It was an unfashionable habit associated with poor rural folks, like the President originated from.
We were obviously thinking more Lady and less Lincoln when we created our “Antique Elegance” shawl!
Shaping makes all the difference. We designed our romantic wrap to curve in the front so that it stays on easily.
With our “accidental” shawl, we solved the problem by making a shawl that is not a shawl.
MoonlitMemory’s "Reminiscence Vest or Shrug" was originally just a vest. It was a striking ruffled top designed mostly by Mom, who was inspired by memories of vintage pinwheel motifs.