Welcome to the second day of Shawl Design for Beginners! Today we’re going to talk about the shawl design trinity: Yarn, shape, and pattern.
The second day of this online course on shawl design is going to be devoted on getting started with the process of choosing yarn based on stitch patterns, and patterns based on shawl shape. It leads us straight to the concept of gauge and knitting swatches, and to one of the most anticipated topic of this course: Calculations. But let’s start at the beginning.
Yarn, Shape, Pattern: Basic Shawl Design Setup
You can start with either one of the three basic choices when designing a new shawl pattern, but as soon as you pick one, you need to match the other two to your choice – and to each other.
Let’s have a closer look by assuming we start with one of these three at a time.
Starting With Yarn
When starting with the yarn you need to consider which stitch pattern(s) to use baed on this choice. Busy and colourful yarns don’t play well with complicated lace stitch patterns, for instance. You get the idea? The busier the yarn, the simpler the stitch pattern should be.
If in doubt, knit a swatch.
Starting With Shape
There are so many shawl shapes out there I virtually stopped counting a while ago. The most prominent ones are stoles, triangles, crescents and circular shawls. Each shape has its construction method (or more than one to choose from), so when you start with the shawl shape you first need to select a construction method for the shape chosen. As soon as you know how your shawl is going to be constructed you know which kind of stitch pattern you need for it: A triangular, or a rectangular stitch pattern, for example.
If unsure, triangles and stoles are the best choice for a beginner! Our example uses a triangle shawl worked sideways, and we’re going to talk about stitch patterns for this shawl shape next week (also during this course!).
Starting With a Stitch Pattern
The same principles as stated in the starting with yarn section apply here, too. If you choose a fancy lace stitch pattern don’t use bulky or busy or very colourful yarn. Choose yarn based on stitch pattern which matches well and looks good when knitted up in a swatch. You have to like the resulting texture, that’s key!
Same as above: If in doubt, knit a swatch.
Honestly, the process of how to adjust a stitch pattern found on books or online – most come as rectangles – is too much information for this course. I wrote a whole book on this topic, Shaping Lace, if you want to dive deeper into the subject.
Shawl Design Trinity: An Example
Let’s say we have two skeins of yarn in our stash we’d like to use for our example shawl pattern, the triangle worked sideways. One is a multi-colour sock weight yarn from Malabrigo yarns in the color Archangel, the other one a solid color sock weight from Madelinetosh.
Using the same stitch pattern for both would result in drastically different results! The more complicated the stitch pattern, especially when it comes to lace stitch patterns, the better we’re off with the solid colour. Don’t believe me? Knit a swatch using a multi-color and a solid or semisolid yarn and try for yourself. You’ll see what I mean in an instant!
- Das Mondschaf Andromeda, colour: Childlike Empress
- Stitch Pattern: yarn is busy, so I’ll go for garter and maybe some eyelets and brioche stitch!
- Shape: triangle worked sideways (our example shawl)
This is the yarn. (Yes, yum.)
Your Assignment for Today
Today’s assignment is to choose yarn from your stash and a stitch pattern to go with our example shawl shape, the triangle worked sideways. Let me know your choice (and why you chose this combination) in the comments below!
See you in day three of this course! – Julia <3
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