Adjustable Square Shawls

What are adjustable square shawls? Assume your yarn supply is limited, for example you only got one skein of a specific yarn you plan to use for a shawl. How do you make sure you don’t run out of yarn? That’s when adjustable shawls come in handy.

The Most Important Tool: Your Kitchen Scale

The most important tool for any adjustable shawl is a scale. Any digital kitchen scale should be sufficient. Why is it so important? To make sure you won’t run out of yarn we have to plan yarn usage accordingly. As we cannot measure the wound skein, we use the weight of it instead.

Read the label on your yarn to find out how many yards / meters are in one skein, and to find out how many grams your skein has. An example: lace weight yarn usually comes in hanks of around 880 yards per 4 oz (800m/100g).

So if we don’t want to run out of yarn we have to plan. Let’s start.

Adjustable Square Shawls

Knitting square shawls diagonallyThe most intuitive form for explaining the principles of adjustable shawls is the square shawl worked diagonally (from tip to tip). The point in knitting where you have to make sure you still got the minimum of half the yarn left is the center diagonal – the position where the increases stop and the decreases start.

In the example pattern below, differences between the original pattern template and the adjustable one are marked green.

Example Pattern

  • Weigh your yarn and write down the number (we call this weight W from now on).
  • CO 3 sts and purl one round.
  • Increase row: sl1, m1R, pm, ktbl, pm, m1L, k1. (5 sts)
  • Next row: knit.
  • Increase row: sl1, k to next marker, m1R, slm, ktbl, slm, m1L, k to end of row. (7 sts)
  • Next row: knit.
  • Repeat the last two rows until there are 13 sts total, then start shawl body:
  • Increase row:sl1, k to next marker, slm, YO, ktbl, YO, slm, k to end of row. (15 sts)
  • Next row: knit edging stitches, purl body sts.
  • Increase row: sl1, k to next marker, slm, YO, k to next marker, YO, slm, k to end of row. (15 sts)
  • Next row: knit edging stitches, purl body sts.
  • Repeat the last two rows until W/2 grams are left or until desired size.
  • Decrease row: sl1, k to next marker, slm, ssk, k to 2 sts before next marker, k2tog, slm, k to end of row. (149 sts between markers)
  • Next row: knit edging stitches, purl body sts.
  • Repeat the last two rows until all increased stitches are decreased again (until 3 sts are left total), then cut yarn, put through stitches and pull tight.
  • Weave in ends and block gently.

Adjustable Stoles

The principle is the same as for square shawls: weigh your yarn and make sure you enter the second half of the shawl before your weight has decreased below half of it.


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