Thursday, May 21, 2009

How I Made the Shawl, More or Less, Part I

The I-Cord edging didn't work so well, so I just crocheted along the top edge to catch the yarn floats in place. It looks, shall we say, rustic, but it's relatively unobtrusive.

Kmkat asked if I planned to describe my method, and in somewhat rambling, perhaps semi-incoherent fashion I'll give it a shot. It's really more "method with madness", or "basic structure meets chaotic improvisation."

I'll start here with the basic shaping, which happens to be a very standard triangle shawl knitting gambit.

If you start with a very few stitches, and then increase one stitch at each side every other row, you will build up a triangle (familiar to anyone who has ever worked the standard Grandma's Favorite dishcloth). It looks something like this.

If you simultaneously work two of these triangles side by side it looks like this

Notice that the "side" edges of the knitting as it is worked will form the "top" edge of the shawl. Since you are working "top down" as it were, this is the edge that appears at the bottom of the sketch. Clear as mud?

So I started by casting on 5 sts and marking the center stitch.

On every RS row I worked one stitch, made a yarn over for my increase, worked to the marked st, yo, worked the marked st, yo, worked to the last st, yo, worked the last st.

Every WS row was worked even.

Now I will say right here that I would have had neater edges if I had worked two or even 3 edge stitches before the first increase and after the the last increase. So do as I say, not as I did.

Each row was either all knit, or all purl. Actually, I meant to work the first and last 4 sts of every row in garter, but I forgot a lot. I just improvised whether I would knit or I would purl any given row, and this resulted in some sections of stockinette, some garter ridges/garter sections and a couple of reverse stockinette sections. I did try to keep the center stitch in stockinette (knit every RS row and purl every WS row), but sometimes I forget this, too.

AT THE SAME TIME, I did a little compensating in the shaping. I'll backtrack to explain. If you work the shaping as described above all in garter stitch, you end up with nice even right triangles, because garter has a lovely gauge characteristic: the height of two rows generally equals the width of one stitch. But the proportions of stockinette are not so accommodating, and much of this shawl is either stockinette or reverse stockinette. So instead of a nice right triangle I was likely to end up with something more like this

I've exaggerated the distortion a little for illustrative purposes.
So to fill in the shaded areas

I threw in extra increases at the side edges every 4-6 rows, or whenever I remembered. I placed these about 5 stitches in from the edges and used M1 instead of a yarn over, so they would show as little as possible. I did not do extra increases on either side of the center stitch. Placing extra increases at the sides only had the (to me) advantage of increasing the width of the shawl a little more than the depth.

So I continued in this fashion until I was tired of it, but I did make sure that I went long enough that the top of the shawl would equal my "wingspan", that is the length from fingertip to fingertip when I hold my arms straight out to the sides.

Enough for one day. I'll post something about color changes and knitting on the edging later (maybe sooner-later, and maybe later-later, we'll see).

1 comment:

kmkat said...

Thank you! You madness with method certainly saved me some frustration. Looking forward to the rest of the story.