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Project Corner: Perfect Plumage with the Pincha Shawl

AKA - my Awesome Tiny Bird Cape!

A knitted shawl in feathery design, with orange and turquoise colours

Right from the moment I first dyed up Halcyon, I knew I needed to find a bird-themed pattern that would allow its plumage to shine, just like the feathers of the kingfisher that inspired the colourway. Enter the Pincha - a deceptively simple scarf that uses garter stitch and short rows to create a swirling stack of feather motifs. ‘Pincha’ comes from the Sanskrit for ‘peacock feather’, so combined with Halcyon - Greek for ‘kingfisher’ - it’s a match made in avian heaven. What’s more, this beautiful one-skein knitting pattern is FREE to download! Designer Pinpilan Wangsai has published the step by step instructions on, so there’s no reason not to get stuck right into this birdy bonanza!

This unusual shawl pattern also solves the eternal question of what to do with one skein of variegated yarn. Many people buy that one special hand dyed skein of fingering weight yarn because they love the way the colours look together, but are then daunted by the potential for pooling and the lack of colour control. This very colour chaos is a positive boon with the Pincha. As the designer herself says:

"This shawl uses only one skein of any sock yarn of your choice but it looks best when the color is variegated"

And she is so right. The backwards-and-forwards shaping given by the short rows allows varying lengths of colour runs to play next to each other and break up any pooling. My own skein of Halcyon even created a subtle gradient as the inner part of this particular hank, when caked, must have had more orange than the outer - see how it goes from darker turquoise to golden orange towards the tip. I adore this inadvertent effect and it’s a wonderful example of letting the skein speak for itself, embracing its uniqueness and using the unpredictability to its best advantage:

A hand knitted shawl forms a spiral shape pinned to a blocking mat
Swirling on the blocking mat

On to the knitting itself, and oh, this was a joy. I really do recommend this pattern for any beginner looking to practise their wrap and turns, or even the more experienced knitter who wants a zen, meditative knitting experience. Each feather probably took me about an hour - far less for those not as easily distracted - and you can make the scarf as long or short as you wish. There’s a ‘save point’ at the end of every feather where you could choose to cast off or carry on. If you’re anything like me you’ll be saying ‘just one more’ every time you hit one of these points! My shawl used all but the tiniest scrap of my 100g (400m) skein of 4ply, and the final count was 24 feathers. So it’s a satisfyingly waste-free project, too!

I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to wear the finished item, but once it was off the needles and blocked I flung it round my neck and - well, turns out it isn’t just a scarf, it’s an AWESOME TINY BIRD CAPE! I love how you can style this as a kind of collar, almost like a feathery knitted armour (I appreciate how useless that combination would be as actual armour, but you get the idea).

I can’t wait to cast on another, possibly in Basilisk for a bit of a dragon vibe. Oooh, or imagine the fiery badassery of one knitted in Didn’t You Have A Flaming Sword? I’ve even got half a mind to see if I can do a scrappy one with a different colour for each feather.

What do we think, yarnfans? Will you be casting on your own Awesome Tiny Bird Cape? If you do, I’d love to see it. We can be a team of cool feathery warriors together. Squawk!

Project Details:

Yarn used: 1 x100g skein of Skeinhawk Yarns 4ply Luxury Sock (85% Merino, 15% Nylon), in 'Halcyon' colourway

Pattern: Pincha Shawl by Pinpilan Wangsai, from (free at time of writing)

My Ravelry project page:

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