A quick look at any on-line knitting site will reveal a passion for shawls – whether knitted or crocheted, they’re all the rage. Does this reflect a desire to wander the country like a Jane Austen heroine clutching a bit of lace to a heaving bosom? Or sudden plummeting temperatures? Nah, it’s largely that, like socks, hats and blankets, shawls and wraps can be quick projects that will always fit, however relaxed your tension is, they don’t take a great deal of yarn and they’re very portable. As an added bonus, you can turn the colour up to 11 if you’re minded to escape the confines of a neutral wardrobe.
Today’s blog is essentially going to tell you a little about the ‘recipes’ for making the 2 most common shapes: the new-fangled ‘scalene’ triangle wrap and the classic ‘v’. But it’s worth bearing in mind that, if you have a stitch directory, a bag of yarn and some time on your hands, merely casting on multiples of your favourite lace pattern, edging it with rows and columns of garter stitch and knitting until you’re crazy bored will elicit a very fetching rectangular wrap. Not all shawls have to be triangular!
So first off – the scalene triangle wrap/shawl/scarf. Popularised by Martina Behm with her fantastically popular ‘Hitchhiker’. These long, shallow shawls have become the go-to for many a beginner pattern designer. Ravelry’s front page usually features at least one or two of them (today there seems to be around 5!) They are usually garter stitch based, frequently make use of 4 ply/sock yarn and often have a collection of points or holes. Their recipe is simple, cast on a few stitches, increase every row on one edge and decrease every 2nd, 4th or 6th row on the other depending on the amount of depth you want in your scarf. More decreases = shallow long scarf. Less = deeper shorter scarf.
The other classic shape is the ‘v’ – with a touch of lace, this is the go-to shape for those airy, floaty, ultra-feminine shawls to waft around your shoulders as the evening chill strikes (or I guess, if you make them in a thicker yarn, ignore the lace – they’d be great for snuggling when reading in bed).
You start with a garter tab cast on, which is much harder to describe than do!
Cast on 3 stitches and knit 7 rows of garter stitch – then drop your second needle and pick up three stitches from the side of your garter strip (as shown)
– then pick up three more loops from your cast on edge. You’ll end up with a crescent of 9 stitches all on one needle.
Next row: knit 3 (yo, K1) X3, yo, K3.
Next row and every wrong side row: knit 3, purl to last 3 stitches, k3
Next row, k3, yo, k3, yo, k1, yo, k3, yo, k3
Next row k3, yo, k5, yo,k1, yo, k5, yo, k3 . …and so on with the stitches written in green going up by 2 each row.
After the next row your work should look like this
…..the photo illustrates the overall pattern.
When looking at a ‘v’ shaped shawl, it’s tempting to think that you start at the point and increase to the top edge, but this diagram should persuade you that you are doing precisely the opposite!
Again, continue with the stitch pattern until you just have enough yarn to knit around 5 rows of garter stitch plus the cast off row. You’ll end up with something that looks like this. (sample knitted in Sirdar Divine Dk 2 balls x 50g, 5mm needles)
Use sock yarn to add stripes, play around with reverse stocking stitch or eyelets, or just keep to plain old stocking stitch. If you’re inspired to move onto a lacy shawl, then at least you’ll understand the underlying structure, which should help you wrap your head around the more complicated stitch patterns.
To get you started here’s a little free pattern from Villagewoolly.
A scalene triangle scarf/shawl – with a lacy border.
You’ll need at least one ball of sock yarn (4 ply) but for a more generous wrap, 200g would be even better. I used 100g of Rico Las Vegas in shade 001 interspersed with about 25g of WYS sock in a bright acid yellow for my version. A touch of striping will make this a more interesting knit, or make it in something silky and luxurious and you’ve got the ideal cover up for bare shoulders.
Note! I haven’t had this pattern tech edited – if you find any errors – let me know (email firstname.lastname@example.org) – and apologies.
Dimensions (using my 125g of yarn) 160 cm wingspan and 40 cm depth (after blocking) – yours could be much bigger!
You’ll also need 4mm needles, scissors and a darning needle.
st/sts – stitch/es
k – knit
kfb – knit into the front and back of the next stitch
yo – yarn over the needle
Set up rows
Cast on 3 sts and k 4 rows (ie. garter stitch)
row 5 – KFB, yo, k2 (5 sts)
row 6 – k to last st, kfb (6 sts)
row 7 – kfb, k to last 2 sts, yo, k2 (8 sts)
row 8 – as row 6
– then repeat rows 7 & 8 once, then row 7 ONLY once. (14 sts)
Next row Cast off 6 sts, k to last st, kfb. (9 sts)
- Kfb, k to last 2 sts, yo, k2
- k to last st, kfb
- as row 1
- as row 2
- as row 1
- as row 2
- as row 1
- Cast off 6 sts, k to last sts, kfb.
These 8 rows set the pattern.
( Note: After you’ve repeated these rows a couple of times, you’ll realise that you are making holes along the non-kfb edge and, when there’s 4 of them, you immediately cast off 6 sts on the next row – this simultaneously creates a lacy triangular point, and fulfils the requirement that for you decrease stitches along one edge of your shawl as you increase on every row of the other.)
When you have either a. got just a few grammes of your yarn left, b. the scarf is plenty big enough or c. you fancy a new project, it’s time to cast off.
You should use a stretchy cast off in order to maximise the elasticity of each edge of the scarf – especially if you plan to give it a jolly good blocking (recommended).
Try one of these:
k the first 2 stitches of the cast off row, then insert your left hand needle into the front of the stitches you’ve just knit and then knit them together. Knit the next stitch (2 sts on your right hand needle) and repeat.
Or try this i-cord cast off.
At the end of the your last row, cast on 3 stitches, then *k 2, s1k1psso – transfer these 3 worked sts back onto the left hand needle* . Repeat * to * until all your cast off stitches have been worked and then knit the last 3 stitches together. Cut off end and thread yarn through remaining loop.
Wet blocking will give you an airy lightweight shawl, or if you prefer a thicker scarf, just spray your knitting with a fine mist of water, lay it on a towel, ease it into your preferred shape and leave to dry.