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Written By Brenda Rueb

Do you remember the Virus Shawl craze several years ago? If you want to do something kind of like it, but not as tame, I recommend the Valladolid pattern by Jennifer Hansen. It's very dimensional with the puff stitches, but still looks delicate and lacy with all the openwork she put in the design. It’s a great pattern to get your feet wet with simple design adjustment.

I've done two versions of it in different yarn weights and it looks great in both. The lace weight I did was a multicolor, so the stitches don't pop as much as the solid DK weight, but it's still got that dimensional quality. I enjoy wearing both of them, and even when they're hanging side by side, most people don't realize it's the same pattern, as they look so different.

If you’ve ever thought, “I wish this pattern was… or I want to do something with this great DK I have, but the pattern says fingering…” this is a good place to start stretching your skillset!

Because shawls are not fitted as other garments are, they are a great item to experiment changing out yarn sizes or hook or needle sizes. You'll want to do a swatch test with anything you do, (hear me out now) not just to get gauge for a pattern, but also - when you are experimenting - to know if you're going to like the result. If you don't like it in a smaller piece, you sure don't want to spend all the time in the full pattern to find it out! If you find it looks great, carry on!

If you're doing a garment that does need to be a certain size, using the swatch gauge will help you figure out how to change the pattern when you work it. Sometimes it's an easy change like your preferred gauge in the small or the large sizing on the pattern itself would be all you'd change. If it's a multi-size, you can use the calculations between sizes to help you make the adjustments that you need. Once you catch the bug that allows you to alter written patterns, almost anything will be fair game!

In addition to the swatch testing, for any rectangular pieces, you're going to know if the sizing is going to work for you after the first couple of rows. If it doesn't cover your arm, or if when you wrap it around your shoulders you're dangling another 3 feet on the side, you're going to need to make some adjustments. Think of the pattern as a recipe; make the adjustments so that it is suited to your taste. You can do it!

As Valladolid is a center-out design, it's really easy to adjust. If it’s looking too small, just repeat more sections until you get the size you want. With the DK weight, I debated leaving out a few repeats of the top section so that I'd have the length to do the long and beautiful bottom edging, but decided to give it a go as written. It's large, and I'm short, but it's very wearable, and comes down to below my knees in the back. I I wear it with solids mostly, or something that's a simple design, as the shawl is the statement piece whether I'm wearing it in a dress or pants and top. And I get stopped every time I wear it and asked where they can get one.

Makers have the advantage - a pattern is a pattern - but we can alter as we're making it, and the result is going to be uniquely ours.