The Chelsea Cowl n' Shrug: A Labor of Love

The Chelsea Shrug n' Cowl
The Chelsea Shrug n' Cowl

One of my favorite things to work on is custom orders.  It gives me an opportunity to work closely with a customer to create something special that I know will mean so much to them. Sure, sometimes it's a long and somewhat tedious process. But with good communication it can also be a fun process. And it is always worth the work in the end when I know my customer is happy.

Every once in a while, something really special happens where I am inspired to create a whole new product for my own shop born from that custom order process. That is the magic that inspires me. That is the good stuff as they say.

This new Chelsea Shrug n' Cowl is a product of that process. It is a lightweight shrug with a cowl / snood attached. It can be worn with the cowl flipped back like a hoodie giving the front a straight shrug look, or the cowl can come overhead like a hood. The cowl can drape around the front or overhead. This is one of the most versatile pieces I have ever seen.

The design process was a labor of love on this one.

First was fiber selection. I needed a fiber that would hold shape and structure but not be bulky. It's a shrug not a sweater! The fiber selection took some time because I was marrying two garments that have their own needs in construction. I settled on a great sport weight acrylic yarn that would work well with tighter stitching on the shrug but also work for the loose needs of the cowl.

The shrug was basic to be sure, but I needed a shrug that would carry the weight of the cowl without losing it's shape. The shrug needed to have a collar, but the collar shouldn't "fight" the cowl. The shrug should be able to stand alone, meaning without the cowl. There were a lot of requirements for the body of the shrug.

Once I had the shrug sorted, I moved on to the cowl - which had it's own set of issues.

The cowl itself is a basic lightweight cowl but I altered my design to attach it to the shrug. After some trial and error, I settled on attaching it almost as an add-on as opposed to part of the shrug itself. This allowed me to manipulate the placement of the cowl so that it could also be tossed back as a hood.

I also had to alter the design of my Spring Cowl for this piece so that the wight would not pull at the shrug collar. After lots of trial, failure, trial, mild success, trial and more failure, I finally had that design a-ha moment and changed the stitching but kept the pattern frame.

And voila! I was done.

But now, would my customer like it even half as much as I do is the big question (and the one that gives me knots in my stomach). I set up my photo shoot and then sent my customer the results. And boom! I hit a design home run.

This is why I love my job and am so grateful for these magical encounters. The entire process; concept to completion was just over 8 weeks. The process was long, laborious and fabulous all at once because I am left with a very happy customer and a brand new original design.