Exploring the many shapes of shawls

For the last few weeks I have been playing with designs for top down shawls that include offset increases and decreases that create movement in the fabric (aka bias). In playing with various patterns I learned that sometimes a triangle top down shawl can be limiting and at least for what I am doing. The shape doesn’t lend itself to easy repeats for larger patterns. So this has me exploring other forms of shawl construction. So let’s go exploring.

Simple – The simplest form is knitted by casting on a certain number of stitches to obtain the desired width and then knitting the pattern rows until the desired length is reached. For the most part the stitch count remains the same row to row. The shawl may look like a wider scarf.

Two halves – If the designer had a pattern that only went one direction, for example hearts at the border edge, then the shawl may be knit in two different pieces and grafted together in the middle so that the hearts appeared to hang with the pointed end towards the ground on both sides of the shawl when hung over a person’s shoulders.

Slightly rounded – This shawl is created by using short rows and gradually decreasing the number of stitches knit until the curve desired is achieved. To finish all the stitches are knit again picking up all the wrap & turns.

 Top Down – Border stitches followed by a yarn over on each right side row. This makes a very steep triangle. However if a stem stitch is added and the pattern is repeated on each side of the stem stitch a very nice triangle shape is achieved. ( unless bias is added that changes the shape)

Variations on Triangle Top Down – Note the pattern can be repeated any number of times between stem stitches and ending with borders. The principal is that each right side has yarn over at each side of the pattern.

Note yarn overs can be added to the wrong side rows at the edges to produce a wider shallower shawl shape.

Square – Similar to Triangle Top Down, except four repeats of the pattern are done around four stem stitches. There are no border stitches knit with every row, and the shawl is typically  knit in the round.

Bottom Up – In this case instead of increasing at the edge of the pattern, decreases are made. The decreases can be done at the outside borders or by doing a center double decrease.

Circle – This shawl is knit in the round, unless of course you are only doing a half-circle. For the most I have seen circle shawls constructed from the basic principles developed by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The goal is to increase the stitch count on certain rows to achieve a flat piece.

Quoted from Knitty.com – Ms. Zimmermann, realized that she could apply a geometrical truth to make her knitting easier. Precisely put, as the diameter — the “width” — of the circle doubles, the circumference doubles. So she cast on a small number of stitches, and works a short distance — let’s get all mathematical, and call it x. She then doubled the number of stitches, and worked for twice that distance: 2x. And then she doubled the number of stitches, and work for twice the previous distance: 2 times 2x = 4x. And then she doubles the number of stitches again, and works twice that distance: 8x. And so forth.

Here is a free calculator I found to help develop the stitch counts for a circular shawl. Keep in mind any circle can be made into half circle by halving the number of stitches.

This is only the most basic, with freeform knitting you can achieve any shape desired.

Back to knitting. I will be interested to see what shapes are your favorites.

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