Thrifting magic: the story of three shawls

shawlsI tend to feel very cold in the mornings, when I wake up long before the sun, because the baby is an early riser. Those are the hours when I want to wrap myself in a shawl to warm up while I drink my coffee and read my blogs, before I start making breakfast for the kids and an actual effort to wake up.

When I go thrifting, many of the treasures I find are things that I never thought I needed. That’s how I found the crochet black shawl that reminded me of my great grandmother (on top of the pictured pile). My great grandmother used to crochet every day. She could make everything and she would constantly ask visitors to bring her thread and new projects. And yet, I have nothing left from her. I remember her always covered almost head to toe in a gigantic black shawl. A gigantic black shawl leaning on a walking stick.

It was also unexpectedly like that I found my grey Indian shawl (pictured at the bottom of this pile), a blend of silk and wool I think, which I and the baby have been using a lot this winter and the last. I found it in the “fabric” section of the thrift store. The fabric is so pleasant to the touch, and so shiny and beautiful to look at! Even my Indian mother-in-law admired it (or maybe she questioned why we buy Indian stuff from outside India, I don’t know, I don’t speak Hindi, so in all honesty I probably understand a completely different story from the one she tells me).

Sometimes, and those moments are very rare, as they should be, the universe works in my favor and I find in the thrift shop something that had been on my list of treasures for ages. And those days are just magic, of course.

For a very long time, however, I’ve wanted a large Russian-style shawl (by Russian I mean Pavlovo-Posad style). In Romania, Russian-style shawls  are a very traditional accessory. My grandmother has always worn one to church ever since I’ve known her. I have a Russian scarf from her. When I was a child I used to admire this one a lot, and I had declared it “my inheritance.” When I moved to US now more than ten years ago, my grandmother told me I could have the scarf. I have to admit that I don’t wear it a lot, but I still love to look at it every once in a while. But a shawl, a large shawl, I knew would come in handy on those frosty mornings when I come downstairs with the baby, still half asleep and shivering, and missing the warmth of the bed blankets.

I looked on ebay for Russian shawls, but they are (rightly) pretty expensive. Besides, I don’t find buying from Ebay as fun as thrifting, so although I will look up things once in a while, I very rarely buy something from there. So I put the shawl on the list of things to look for when I go to Savers. I never pass by the scarf section without going through each and every one and this past week, there it was, in all it’s very-colorful-roses-on-blue-background glory. I loved it so much that even though I couldn’t find any label or fabric content I just bought it. I assumed it had to be a Pavlovo-Posad shawl. Well, when I washed it at home I discovered the label, and while it is 100% wool, it’s Japanese-made, not Russian. I think I can live with that though, because it clearly wants to be a Russian shawl, so that’s what it will be for me.

russian shawl wearing
My finest modeling skills went into this shot. I don’t seem at all uncomfortable, do I?

Shawls fascinate me. They can be warm blankets, they can be decorative neck wear, and they can be protective cloaks. In my new book (still editing! I know. It’s been forever) they play quite a prominent role. There is something of mystery and magic about shawls, regardless of the tradition from which they come, and life can always use a sprinkle or two of those spices, to become more palatable, don’t you think?