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What's in a Name?


Fuzzy blue wrap

Is it a wrap or a shawl?

Sarah White

Is it a shawl or a wrap? A poncho or a scarf? Sometimes the strange terminology in knitting extends beyond the abbreviations in the pattern. Once you've finished your piece, what do you call it and how do you wear it?

Simply Scarves

The easiest of these similar knitted objects to classify is the scarf. A scarf is usually a long, relatively narrow piece of knitting that is wrapped once or twice around the neck and allowed to hang in front of the body.

Scarves are the ultimate winter essential; I don't think a wardrobe is complete without a dozen or so to choose from. Scarves can range from light, boa-like creations made of eyelash yarn to voluminous, thick and warm objects you wouldn't leave the house without on a snowy day.

Poncho Perfect

Ponchos have made a big comeback in the last few years. A wardrobe staple in the 1970s, they went out of favor for a while but have come back with a bang. The way to distinguish a poncho from a wrap or a shawl is that a poncho is enclosed. It's usually knit as a flat piece and then the sides are sewn together to finish the project.

Ponchos are easy to wear because you just slip them on over your head. They don't have armholes so they wrap you up well and keep you warm in lots of situations. A poncho is a great choice when you're going to be inside somewhere but don't want the fuss of a wrap or a shawl.

Shawls and Wraps

Personally, I don't think there's a difference between a shawl and a wrap. The word "shawl" has a connotation that it's something your grandmother would wear, so I think the word "wrap" has become more commonplace because it sounds a little fancier.

No matter what you call it, a shawl or a wrap (which might also be called a stole or a shrug) is the perfect thing to throw over your shoulders when you feel a little chill in the air. It's not as big as an afghan, so you can't wrap up your whole body, but it will keep you warm in your party dress or in your office when you don't want to put on a sweater or add a more permanent layer.

Wraps and shawls come in many different shapes and sizes, but their main mission is to cover your shoulders and arms and give you a little bit of warmth for your evening stroll or when you're sitting in front of a campfire.

Even more than scarves, it's fun to have a bunch of different shawls and wraps in your closet to go with different outfits. I have one I keep in my office all the time for those days when the air conditioner is too high or the heat is too low. It's like being wrapped in a hug whenever you want.

Knitting scarves, ponchos, wraps and shawls is a lot of fun. They're usually pretty short projects that allow you to have fun with a new stitch pattern or try a different technique without a lot of commitment. And, as I said, everyone can always use more of these cool-weather treats, so even if your closet gets full you can always knit these fun items for others!

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