Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Crochet Shawls, Shawl Pins, And Alternatives

I never thought I would want to wear a shawl.  I'm too warm most of the time.  But, then I learned to crochet!  There were so many shawl patterns that intrigued me that I had to make a couple.  At first, they were gifts for my mother or some other 'old lady'.  Well, since I've finally grown into the almost totally head of white hair I've had since my second child was born a gazillion years ago, I have come to appreciate the light weight draft dodging that a shawl allows.  For myself, I make the ones with no tails and no fringe.  That V hanging down my back just gets messed up, caught in a seat belt, or stretched out of shape.  Worse things happen to the fringe.  YMMV.

Now, having become a member of the old lady club and donning a shawl from time to time, I discovered the need for something to hold the shawl in place as I went about my daily activities.  Shawl pins are often beautiful works of art, but they are also often not in my budget.  I came up with a few alternatives that might work for others.  Here they are:

1. Barrettes - Once upon a time I had long, thick hair and I used barrettes.  Being the jewelry collector (ahem, maybe hoarder) that I am, I still have a couple of those barrettes from the last century.  One is a real work of art - probably cost less than a dollar - as it is the shape of a butterfly and spells out the work Peace.  Am I dating myself here?  It works perfectly to hold my shawl in place without causing any harm to the yarn.

2. Clip earrings - which I have never worn.  As one of only two granddaughters on my mom's side of the family - and the only one interested in jewelry (costume or valuable), I have inherited or been gifted everyone's old collection.  There are some stunning clip earrings that work well to hold a shawl in place.  They are smaller than the typical shawl pin or my barrettes, but they add a bit of bling and that's not a bad thing.  Just be sure they snap closed tightly.

3. Twist ties and pipe cleaners - yeah, really.  They may not make the fanciest shawl 'pins', but they'll work to hold things in place and you can add a pretty button so that no one sees the twist tie or pipe cleaner.  Chenille stems, or what we used to call pipe cleaners, come in a wide variety of colors, including seasonal colorways and metallics, and are easily reusable a few times.  Same for twist ties, although the color choices aren't many.  I save every twist tie that comes into my home.  There are some in a gold-ish color and some that have an opaque, white-ish plastic coating over the wire.  Plus, they are free!  Adding a button is easy enough and can add some pizzaz.

4. Chop Sticks or pencils - the pencils are purely practical because everyone has one.  But, unless you're a classroom teacher, it's probably not the best choice.  Chop Sticks, OTOH, are free or very inexpensive and can easily be covered with inexpensive acrylic craft paint to match your favorite shawl.  I have no idea where you can buy a batch of Chop Sticks, but most Chinese restaurants in these parts give a pair away with each meal, even if you don't know how to use them.  If you wish to branch out with your crafting, you could easily cover a pencil or chop Stick with some Fimo (or similar plastic clay requiring heat to set it) to make a decorative real shawl pin of your own for a couple bucks.

5. Other pieces of jewelry - like those brooches we all have rolling around, unused, in our jewelry box.  Again, I have a round one, about 1.5 inches tall, with my initials engraved on it.  I haven't worn it as a piece of jewelry in a long time.  There are other similar pieces in my jewelry box.  These pieces will have a pin closure in the back that allows you to gather an inch worth of yarn into the about half inch closure.  Some brooches are too small for this use.  For this use, the click backs work better than the sliding circle closures so your yarn doesn't get snagged.  But, I have used both with no difficulty or damage.Bigger works better with this choice.

6. Floral Wire - on which you've slid a bunch of seed beads or other small beads.  Floral wire is inexpensive and comes in about 4 colors (dark green in most common, but there are also silvertone and goldtone availabe and a base metal version of indeterminate color I'll call pewter).  Floral wire and a small bag of beads can be found at most stores like Michael's, Joanne's, Hobby Lobby, and more.  This allows you to color customize your shawl pin with a minor financial investment.  There's a lot of floral wire on a spool, so think of other ways to use it.  I use it to tie things onto the wreaths I make for each season.  If you are not familiar with floral wire, it's actually the same weight and has the same flexibility as twist ties.  I believe it's the wire used inside of the twist ties.

7. Lobster Claw Barrettes - Those huge (but they do come smaller) holding up large handsfull of hair.  Not terribly attractive but fantastically functional.  I bet you could find this one or maybe some cuter ones as the dollar store. 

8. Ponytail elastics - Again, totally functional if you have a lot of  hanging crossover in the front of your shawl.  I actually have made some to accompany a shawl.  Using the same yarn as your shawl, crochet around a ponytail holder (see patterns for scrunchies) then pull the two fronts of your shawl through the 'scrunchy' to hold the shawl in place.  Use the ponytail elastics that do not have the metal clasps.

So, don't hesitate to wear a shawl because you can't afford a pricey shawl pin.  Still, if you do decide to splurge, know that you are often supporting a local artist, and that's a good thing,

That barrette pictured at the top of the article can be found on at the shop of Kapelika.  I did a search and found many, many shawl pins, or in this case both a barrette and a shawl pin.  

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