I'm a frequent shawl and wrap wearer. Except for the coldest days in winter, they're perfect cooler weather apparel for Sydney's climate. I have a 'go to' shawl that I frequently reach for as I'm dashing out the door to work.
It's an embroidered Kashmiri shawl in fine black wool (despite the evidence of this photograph which makes it look navy). I fell in love with it and bought it about ten years ago in Bangkok for what seemed like an exorbitant price, but it has been worn so frequently that if I were to price it in dollars per wear, the cost would now be down to a very small fraction of a cent for each use.
Yesterday I was reaching into my shawl drawer for my 'go to' shawl when I glimpsed a much loved but neglected alternative, which anyway looked better with yesterday's clothes.
I made this shawl about 25 years ago from a square of Liberty fine wool fabric - a bit over a metre square - and I wear it folded in half as a triangle. If you look closely you can see that at some mad time in my past life I actually fringed and hand hem-stitched the edges of the shawl.
Sometime in the early 1980s I fell in love with these very fine wool prints that Liberty produced. I'd still be deeply in love with them, except that Liberty seems to have abandoned the production of this beautiful fabric. I went looking for it, without much hope, when I was recently in London, but to no avail. Even years ago this fine wool was very expensive and I used to haunt the sales at the Liberty shop that once was in Elizabeth Street. Maybe it's just become uneconomical to produce.
I fringed and hand-stitched the hems of several shawls that were gifts for good friends who still wear them from time to time. It gives me such pleasure to see them being worn. I made one for my mother from a very traditional Liberty design that I reclaimed from her possessions after she died:
And I have one from a rather modern version of a paisley print that I acquired at some time in my life when I must have been even busier than usual because it's just fringed, not hem-stitched:
It seems such a shame that this beautiful fabric is no longer readily available. To compensate, I'll make sure these shawls are at the top of my shawl drawer so that they can be used more frequently - even though they're now more than a quarter of a century old.