Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

Before I started knitting, I wasn't very interested in shawls and didn't have much use for them. Now I love having one to hand, just to quickly warm up or to use as a squishy scarf. I already have two in my collection, the Boho Blush and a Find Your Fade, both designed by Andrea Mowry. The Boho Blush is a singular colour and has tassels, whilst the Find Your Fade is a simpler shape but ahs a lot of colours in it. I felt like having something a little more subtle in my collection, so decided upon the Raina shawl, which I could knit in more neutral colours but still have interesting details. It would also be a good opportunity to practise two colour brioche, which would be a new skill that I haven't tried before.
Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review


The pattern calls for 150g of fingering weight yarn in two contrasting colours. I had one skein of La Bien Aimee Merino Sport in the Damask colourway in my stash that I wanted to use and decided to go with this, as it is quite close in weight (comparing thickness with 4ply, there's not much in it at all). I suspected this one skein might not be enough and ordered an extra skein directly from La Bien Aimee. Unfortunately when the extra skein arrived, it did not match the original that I had bought from A Yarn Story. This can happen with independently dyed yarn and I should have known better than to expect them to match. I thought that I might be able to use one skein for the main sections and hopefully would start the second for the border, which I wouldn't mind being a little different, or to fade them when needed. (The original 3 yarns I started with are above).

La bien aimee yarn review

I didn't make it to the border and needed to use the second skein for the final section. I gave it a go and after a while it became clear that the difference in colour was noticeable (above). I had two options - carry on and live with it or order another skein and restart the section.
I wasn't overly thrilled with paying for another skein (about £30 plus delivery), but I didn't see the point in putting so many hours into something that I wouldn't wear or wasn't happy with in the end. It was out of stock at the place that I purchased the original skein that I had used which didn't help, as I thought this was the best hope of getting a match, I then contacted La Bien Aimee directly with photos to see if they could colour match the original skein. They were very helpful and sent me a photo of their suggestion, which did look like it matched. It arrived, but actually matched the second skein much more closely. So know I did have a matching pair, but it wasn't the one I had already used. This left me with the only course of frogging the entire shawl and starting over with the two that did match.

It wasn't an easy decision. I didn't enjoy doing it and couldn't believe that I had spent all those hours for nothing, but it had to be done. 

Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

On the other hand, the contrasting yarn posed no problems at all. I decided to use Drops Baby Alpaca Silk, which is a fingering weight, as recommended. It is a blend of 70% Alpaca with 30% silk. I thought that this would mix well with the merino wool of the other yarn to feel nice against the skin. I knew this would likely be worn as a scarf and the neck is one of those areas you notice wool blends more. This is the 'Powder' colourway, 1306 and I bought some of mine from the Knitting and Stitching show (2 50g balls). I needed another 50g ball and ordered this from the Wool Warehouse later, using pretty much all of it. I would definitely use this again in a range of projects. it has a lovely sheen and would be lovely in hats or mittens. You can see here that there isn't a noticeable difference between the two different weights of yarn either. Likewise, I would also use the Merino Sport in garments as it is soft and nice to knit with.

Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

Pattern and Instructions

The pattern is designed by Andrea Mowry and is available on her site or from Ravelry for just over £5. It features garter stitch as well as two colour brioche and an applied brioche border. I liked that it can be reversible as well (even though it has an official main side) due to the brioche (see below). In the pattern pdf that you download, you have very clear supplies and notes as well as the pattern itself and a few photos. I'd say this is aimed at intermediate level knitters rather than beginners, but the instructions are clear enough to have this as the first time you've knitted colour brioche (it was my first time!). The first couple of sections are quite easy and you can get going quite quickly. 

The pattern calls for US5/3.75 needles. I switched to US4/3.5mm needles instead though. I wasn't overly worried about getting gauge as it is a shawl, but I had switched to a thicker yarn, so thought this would offset that along with my tighter than average tension. However, the main reason I did this is because the pattern recommends that you use two separate circular needles for the short rows in the brioche sections. I only had a separate set of fixed needles as well as my interchangeables in this size, and having knit this shawl (nearly twice over) I'd say it is a must.

The only time I deviated from the pattern was to use German short rows instead of wrap and turns in the earlier sections. I find this gives a much cleaner look in the finished product. I used a video tutorial from Very Pink Knits to double check my method along the way.

As far as it feels to knit this shawl, I'd say it is fairly relaxing in general. The sections are quite large so once you get in the rhythm of the pattern, you can give attention to other things at the same time. I marked each brioche increase with a bulb stitch marker just to keep track of how far along I was, as these sections do take time. You'll be able to see quite easily that no matter how tight or loose I held the yarn, I still ended up with little gaps at the turn points for the brioche sections. I followed the instructions precisely at this point, so am sure there must be a way of doing it that will help to avoid this. 

Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review

I didn't have the exact stitch count, but managed to make it work still, so it isn't as crucial as when you are knitting a sweater. I would also say that the applied border also takes quite a long time as well - it's deceiving as it's narrow but is entirely brioche with a pattern as well. You can see how wide the shawl is, so there is plenty of practice in getting to grips with brioche if it's your first time. There's enough shawl here to wrap round shoulders or to bunch up round the neck as a scarf. The brioche in the pattern gives a nice squish and airiness, so it doesn't feel too bulky. The Drops yarn adds extra softness as well.
I can't say I'll be making another shortly as I basically made two this time, but I would again later. 

Andrea Mowry Raina Shawl pattern review


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Welcome to Sewing and Other Stories; my journeys with sewing and knitting; pattern reviews, tips and guides for beginners. I'm also the designer behind West Beach Knits knitting patterns and I host a Knitting and Sewing channel on YouTube where you can see all of this in person. Come have a look!

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