Shawl Geometry Intro

Ages and ages ago I mentioned working on a couple swatches to illustrate shawl shapes, primarily for my own reference, but thought that it might be interesting to write up a blog post about how to shape different types of shawls.

Well, a couple swatches became many more than a couple, and a single blog post quickly became far too long, and the whole idea grew in leaps and bounds until it became a series, and that series grew so long that it made sense to have an accompanying ebook.

So here we have it, a series of blog posts about the ins and outs of shaping knitted shawls, and here’s the game plan.

There are 15* posts. They cover the basic shawl shapes (circles, squares, triangles) and beyond (shallow triangles, 3/4 squares, crescents, etc).
*ETA: the series actually turned into 16 posts and 16 shawls.

There will be 1 post a week, for 15 weeks, starting next week.

Once we cover the very basic shapes, (around mid-May) the complete ebook will come out.
The ebook will be for sale and will include all the information from all the blog posts in a more contained format. It will also be finished when it’s released.
So, if you’re impatient. Or want to read the series on your phone/tablet. Or want a format that you can easily referenced. The ebook would be perfect for you.

The shawl shapes we’ll cover are:
Squares: center out, hem in, edge to edge, and on the bias
Circles: made up of wedges, and using pi shaping
Triangles: right triangles, shallow triangles, winged (heart) triangles, side to side triangles
Rectangles: width-wise and lengthwise (with and without provisional cast ons)
Squares and Circles with slits from the center to hem
3/4s of a Square
1/2 Circles
Wedged Crescents

Phew. (remember what I said about leaps and bounds?)

See you next Monday! We’ll start with the square from the center out, and make our way from there.

Table of Contents/Index:

(as we go I’ll be adding links to the posts here.)

1 Squares center out/ hem in
2 Wedge Circles
3 Pi Circles
3.5 Circle-Concentric Circles of Increases
4 Right Triangles
5 Shallow Triangles
6 Winged Triangles
7 Side/side Triangles
8 Squares edge/edge
9 Squares bias
10 Rectangles
11 Squares w/ slit
12 Circles w/ slit
13 3/4 Squares
14 1/2 Circles
15 Crescent Wedges

The Shawl Geometry Books. They’re the math of shaping shawls for non mathy people.

Stitch abbreviations:

These are the stitch abbreviations that will be used throughout the series.

BO- bind off: [k2tog, sl st on RH needle back to LH needle] Repeat until desired number of sts are bound off.
CB- center back. In this context usually (though not always) used in reference to spine at the center of a shawl.
CO- Cable cast on: starting with a slip knot on LH needle, knit one st into the slip knot and place on LH needle. [Insert RH needle between the 2 sts, wrap and bring through as though to knit, slip look from RH needle onto LH needle creating a new st.] Repeat until desired number of sts are cast on.
Provisional cast on: great instructions for a provisional cast can be found here: http://knitty.com/ISSUEfall05/FEATfall05TT.html
kfbf- knit front, back, front into the same stitch
k- knit
k2tog- knit two together
k2togtbl- knit two sts together though the back of the loops
LH- left hand
p- purl
psso- pass slipped st over
PM- place marker
R(s)- row(s)/rnd(s)
RS- right side
sk2p- slip 1, knit two together, pass slipped st over the knit two together; 2 sts decreased
sl- slip
sm- slip marker
ssk- slip 1 st, slip 1 more st, knit these two together thought the back of the loops
st(s)- stitch(es)
WS- wrong side
yo- yarn over

Schematic Color Guide:

The schematics included have arrows to show the paths of increases/decreases. These arrows are color coded with the following colors, and they arrows tips point in the direction of the increases/decreases.
Black = basic shape of shawl
Green= 1 st increased/decreased every row/round.
Purple= 2 sts increased/decreased every third row/round.
Orange= some other rate of increase/decrease
Red= 1 st increased/decreased every other row/round.
Blue= 2 sts increased/decreased every other row/round.
These last two colors are the most commonly used.

This Series Spawned 3 Books:

Shawl Geometry I: the math of shaping shawls for non mathy people
Shawl Geometry II: 16 more shawl shapes to design and play with
Shawl Geometry III: the relationships behind the numbers


The next post: Squares Center Out & Hem In

9 Responses

  1. Cynthia

    I am looking for a way to calculate how much yarn I need t o leave available for a border on a triangle shawl . I tend to create and resize shawls on the large size. Have you developed a formula for this?

    1. admin

      I usually knit a substantial swatch, calculate the yards per stitch, calculate the number of stitches in the shawl, and go from there.

      If you poke around Ravelry I’m sure other people have other more exact ways of calculating yardage.

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