A few weeks ago Julie Frick posted a photo of her Ishbel on flickr with the title "shawlette is the new cowl?". I don't know if this is true, but I do know that shawlettes are the perfect travel knitting and that I've become a little obsessed. So far I've completed one new design, I'm working on two more and I've got an old but unpublished one on the needles although that last one may venture into full sized shawl territory.
I don't have a very precise definition of what a shawlette is, but that's part of the charm. A pretty little thing to drape around your neck, easier to size than a cowl and more versatile to wear - the ideal project on which to experiment with shape, structure and play with lace.
The crucial equation when planning travel knitting is the relationship between space taken up, hours of knitting enjoyment and suitability for various knitting environments. The shawlette obviously wins on the first two considerations, with the bonus that the small amount of yarn required makes it an ideal way to use souvenir skeins, and I've been dealing with the third in a couple of ways. The first trip shawlette combines garter stitch with a very simple large scale lace border - perfect for knitting while chatting to people but just interesting enough for alone time knitting, on a train for example. The yarn is a super squishy wool, cashmere, silk blend that I bought at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival (from a small websiteless company). Loosely spun - the crazy softness would normally have been a warning that it would wear badly, but on Sunday afternoon when my feet were wet and everything was muddy I picked this up and had to buy it - a total comfort purchase.
I'm now working on two projects, one that's mostly stocking stitch with some yarn overs and short rows - playing with Elizabeth Zimmerman's pi shawl concept. This wonderfully cheery yarn is from Tess Designer Yarns - it's the silk laceweight. The second is more complex, but still relatively simple lace and while it's a secret design project that I can't show you it does have rather a pretty shadow and I can assure you that Malabrigo Sock makes lovely lace.
Both of the pouches pictured above I picked up at Elephante in Portland. I do love my zippered pouches, but zips + yarn = potential urghh! Olga had a wonderful little knitting clutch that I think she made herself, using one of this type of metal bag frame. Neater than a drawstring and less hazardous than a zipper this seems like the perfect solution. I might try making some myself when I get home, but if anyone knows of anyone making cute pouches with this sort of closure do let me know.