Welcome to the first day of Shawl Design for Beginners! Today we’re going to start your first shawl design together.
The first day of this online course on shawl design is going to be devoted on getting started with the process of designing a shawl: How to find inspiration, and how to start the shawl design process.
Inspiration comes from virtually everywhere: Plants, people, songs (especially songs!), yarn, a stitch pattern, or even geometry. I wrote a whole article about finding inspiration earlier: Finding Inspiration for Knitting Patterns.
Starting Your First Shawl Design
When you attempt to design a shawl for the first time, the design process might seem overwhelming or simply a complete mystery. But it is a process, and it can be described using a checklist (more on this below). But the very first question you should ask yourself is the following:
Are you designing just for yourself, or do you plan on publishing a pattern?
The process is not the same, and the latter needs a few more steps (and more decisions – and honestly, much more effort). But let’s start small – before we can write a pattern we need to create a design first anyway.
So let’s start with a checklist for the design process.
We need to decide…
- which yarn to use,
- the stitch pattern(s),
- which shawl shape,
- needle size, and
- finished size.
Yarn, Shape, Pattern
When choosing yarn you need to consider the stitch pattern (or patterns) you want to use. When choosing a stitch pattern you need to consider the shape of the shawl you’re planning. These three always go together, and this is what I call the yarn, shape, pattern trinity. You cannot make an isolated decision on any of these, and that’s where the The Shawl Design Trinity kicks in helping us to choose the right combination of yarn, shape, and pattern.
Stitch Patterns and Possible Shawl Shapes
Finding stitch patterns and shawl shapes are topics on their own and being covered in great detail later in this series.
As example design project we are going to design a triangle shawl worked sideways together. Why this shape? Because it’s the most simple shawl shape out there, and as we’re just starting out this is probably the best choice.
The needle size depends on the yarn and stitch pattern you choose. The big connection between these two is gauge, and I wrote about this topic earlier already here on this blog. You can find it here: What is Knitting Gauge?
Gauge calculations involve knitting swatches. You can prepare yourself by reading my recent article about Knitting Swatches.
Your First Assignment: Finished Size
Your task for today is to decide how big you want your finished shawl.
Remember, we are knitting a triangle for our example shawl in this little course. A triangle has one long and two shorter sides. We want to decide on the length of the longest side of this triangle today.
Which factors need to be considered? Is it really as simple as it seems?
Your shawl should not be too small (or you won’t be able to wrap it around your neck at all, probably!) or too big (knitting might take too long, or the shawl might get too heavy to wear, or too bulky around your neck or shoulders).
What do you consider a good size for a triangle shawl and why? Please add your chosen size and your reasons in the comments below!