Your Finished Object: Rumpelstiltskin Shawl

Learn how one novice spinner overcame the challenges of drafting and spinning a combination of long silk fibers with shorter alpaca and camel fibers to create this beautiful striped shawl.

Donielle Showvay Jan 3, 2024 - 6 min read

Your Finished Object: Rumpelstiltskin Shawl Primary Image

The author selected a shawl that forms a sweeping curl shape, which allows it to be worn in a variety of ways. All photos courtesy of Donielle Showvay


Pattern and designer Deceit by Hunter Hammersen.
Fiber 100 gr/3.5 ounces of hand-dyed Merino (40%)/brown alpaca (20%)/camel (20%)/Mulberry Silk (20%), plus about 1 ounce of natural 100% Merino.
Fiber/preparation Combed top.
Wheel Ashford Traditional.
Drafting method From the fold.
Singles direction Z-twist.
Ply wraps per inch About 16.
Total yardage 220 yards of gold fiber plus about 100 yards of natural.
Yards per pound 1100.
Yarn classification/weight DK.
Yardage used About 320 yards.
Needles Size 10.5 (6.5mm).
Gauge 12 stitches and 18 rows.
Finished size 60" wingspan.

A Spinner Is Born

Quite a few years ago, I owned a long-haired German Shepherd and wanted to put some of its shed fur to use—there was a lot of it! Some of my knitting friends were also spinners and one of them gave me a spindle and showed me how to use it. So I went through the process of cleaning the fur and making it into small punis to spin. I ended up with enough yarn from the shed fur to make a pair of slipper socks. It was such a fun and intense project and I learned a lot about spinning very short fibers. Fast forward to last winter, when another very generous spinner gifted me her Ashford Traditional after hearing about my days of spinning dog hair and wanting me to experience the joy of spinning on a wheel. From my very first bobbin in October of 2021, I was addicted!

Donielle was drawn to the gold-and-silver effect in the fiber she selected for her shawl.

As a relatively new spinner, I enjoy exploring new fibers. Browsing through Jakira Farms product offerings, I came across this irresistibly gorgeous fiber that reminded me of gold and silver. I noticed that it had several different types of fiber in the braid and I just couldn’t pass it up. There was only one braid left, and since it was only 100 grams of fiber I knew I would need to find a pattern for it that wouldn’t require too much yardage.

I searched Ravelry for projects that only required one skein. I came across the collection of beautiful shawl patterns by Hunter Hammersen and knew that one of them would be perfect for this fiber. Her patterns are designed to work with any weight of yarn and any yardage, which was a huge bonus since I hadn’t spun the fiber yet and didn’t know exactly how many yards I would end up with. My tendency is to spin quite thin to create a chain ply that is fingering weight, but I wanted this fiber to be a little heavier thinking it would show off the lovely subtle color changes and the shine of the silk.

The Challenge of Long and Short Fibers

As I began spinning from the end of the braid, I noticed that the differing lengths of fiber were causing a bit of a problem. The longer silk fibers were very difficult to pull evenly with the shorter alpaca and camel fibers. I was basically fighting the yarn as I was trying to draft it. I posted about this in one of my social media groups, and several more seasoned spinners suggested trying to spin from the fold. Admittedly, I’d been a little scared to try this because it looked difficult. But I’m so happy I did because it was the perfect solution to my drafting problems. I’ve been practicing and using this new skill in other projects as well and I love it! I had to learn to release my control and let the yarn almost spin itself, relaxing the hand that holds the fiber and gently guiding the single onto the bobbin using my other hand.

The inclusion of silk adds a bit of luster and a nice drape to the finished shawl.

I settled on a single that was slightly thicker than my normal size, with the goal of creating more of a DK weight yarn after chain plying and I happily achieved the correct weight. I ended up with only about 220 yards of yarn and wanted my shawl to be a good size, so I decided to spin a little bit of natural Merino that I had on hand in order to extend the yardage of the finished shawl. After several tries and several froggings, I finally settled on a striped version of Hammersen’s Deceit pattern.

I’m very pleased with the result and am hoping the recipient—a dear friend who has given of her time to help me grow personally and spiritually—will enjoy her shawl as much as I enjoyed creating it!

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Donielle Oliver Showvay is the owner of Knitting Knicely. She has been a knitwear designer for over seven years and an avid knitter since she was a young child. She also enjoys passing her skill and passion for continuing the traditions of knitting on to others. She has been featured in online knitting magazines for her unique use of codes and secret messages in her designs.