Making Stitch Patterns Work in Vortex Shawl Design

Recently I showed you how to fit stitch patterns into specific shawl shapes in my article Adapting Stitch Patterns to Fit Shawl Shapes and used triangle shawls as examples. Today we’re going to talk about how to include stitch patterns in vortex shawls and vortex shawl design.

What Are Vortex Shawls?

Vortex shawls are described in detail in my Ultimate Guide to Vortex Shawls. If you’re new I encourage you to read this article first to get an overview about their shape and construction methods.

Vortex Shawl Design

In shawl design fitting shape, stitch pattern and yarn together is the secret sauce to success. As vortex shawls are basically biased triangles – triangles worked sideways, but with combined decreases and increases as outlined in the Ultimate Guide to Vortex Shawls.

You can construct a vortex by increasing steadily on one side of the triangle and decrease any amount of stitches – as long as you decrease less than you’re increasing in total – every few rows.

A simple example is increasing one stitch every row and decreasing three stitches every six rows:

  • Row 1 (RS): K1, YO, k to end. (N+1 sts)
  • Row 2 (WS): Knit to last stitch, YO, k1. (N+2 sts)
  • Row 3 (RS): K1, YO, k to end. (N+3 sts)
  • Row 4 (WS): Knit to last stitch, YO, k1. (N+4 sts)
  • Row 5 (RS): K1, YO, k to end. (N+5 sts)
  • Row 6 (WS): K4tog, knit to last stitch, YO, k1. (N+6-3 = N+3 sts)

I call this a “6/3 Vortex” – We increase six stitches and decrease three stitches per repeat.

Let’s have a look at the corresponding chart as shown below.

Fitting stitch patterns into vortex shawls
An example chart for a 6/3 vortex shawl. The section outlined in black is repeated.

Fitting stitch patterns into vortex shawls

Available Canvas for Stitch Patterns

The section available for stitch patterns is the section outlined in black. You can choose any number of stitches for your repeat not only the one stitch repeat shown in the chart above.

The stitches right and left from it are what I commonly refer to as side stitches. These side stitches are usually not available for the pattern’s repeat. You can fill them up but you don’t need to, except if your stitch patterns has unpaired decreases or increases at the edges (same as for every stitch pattern!).

An example for an 8/4 vortex shawl (eight increases, four decreases – a total of 4 decreases per repeat) is shown in the chart below.

Fitting stitch patterns into vortex shawls

I strongly recommend using charts with eight row repeats for 8/x shawls, six row repeats for 6/x vortex shawls, etc. It really makes things much simpler to have a chart that has the same amount of rows each repeat as your decreases have.

This article hopefully helps you with fitting stitch patterns into vortex shawl designs. Let me know by leaving a comment below!


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