Shawl Geometry Introduction

Shawl Geometry: all the knit shawl shapes you could even need

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 series of ebooks.

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.

This series of posts covers the basic shawl shapes (circles, squares, triangles) and beyond (shallow triangles, 3/4 squares, crescents, etc).

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:

(Just click the links below to go directly to the post.)

1. Square Knit in the Round
2. Wedge Circle
3. Pi Circle
4. Octagon Circle
5. Right Triangle
6. Shallower Triangle
7. Triangle with Wings #1
8. Side to Side Triangles
9. Edge to Edge Square
10. Bias Square
11. Rectangles
12. Squares with a Diagonal Slit
13. Wedge Circle with a Slit
14. 3/4 Square
15. 3 methods of shaping 1/2 Circles
16. Eight Equal Wedge Crescent

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 Book One: the math of shaping shawls for non mathy people
Shawl Geometry Book Two: fresh shawl shapes to add to your knitting library
Shawl Geometry Book Three: the principles and theories of shaping (and transforming) knitted shawls

Next: Square Knit in the Round

Get a Lifetime's Worth of Shawl Shapes!

Collectively the Shawl Geometry Series of books cover 75 shawl shapes from beginner to advanced, plus shawl shaping principles and theory. If you’ve enjoyed this blog post then check out the books, they cover enough shawl shaping to keep you happily knitting for a lifetime or two.

Get All the Shawl Shapes You'll Ever Need!

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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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