Sock Yarn Shawls – Part 4 – squares and more

So by now, you should have the concept that you can use short rows to modify the shape of the basic circular shawl into anything you might like.

Here are some examples of shaping variations.

A square shawl on the blocking board.  The yarn is from Lane Cervinia (Italy) “Forever” 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon, color “Partite Pertie”.  The yarn comes in 50 gram balls (210 m) and I used just under three balls to make this 48″ square shawl.

Note that there are multiple uses of short rows in this piece. The initial short rows, in the center, were done after only 128 stitches of the basic circle.  Then the piece was worked out for several inches before again dividing the work into four parts and working short rows over the larger number of stitches, incorporating the lace pattern into these short rows.

Because short rows worked over a decreasing number of stitches produce something more leaf-shaped than strictly triangular, in this piece I also worked some short rows in the area between the large short row sections to straighten the edge of t he piece before finishing off with simple border in the lace pattern, and the usual ruffled finish.

A detail shot of the central motif of the piece, showing the initial short rows and the start of the second set of larger short rows.

The finished shawl:

This is a good time to talk briefly about another design feature of these shawls.  The circular pattern relies on stitch increases which double the number of stitches in a single row.  You can make stitch increases, for example, by knitting into the front and then the back of each existing stitch.  This would make a rather dense looking pattern, so I almost always make my increases by doing the yarn-over-knit-one method described in the basic pattern.  Since I am looking for a very open looking, lacey pattern look to the shawls, I use the increases as part of the open-ness.  But you may like to play around a bit as you experiment with modifying these patterns.


This is, admittedly, a circular shawl (48″), but I show it because the central motif is actually triangular/hexagonal in shape, before returning to the basic circular shape, with spiral.

It was worked pretty much the same as the triangular pieces described above, and then additional short rows worked over the center of the joins of the first triangles.  The thought was to make a six-sided floral looking central portion of a circular scarf.

Once the six points were worked, they were surrounded by knitted rows with short rows filling in between the points to resume a circular pattern.

Yarn is Cascade Yarns, “Heritage Wave”, which is 75% superwash wool, 25% Nylon.  It is a tightly spun 4-ply yarn (on ply is the nylon) and a joy to work with.  It comes in 100 g hanks (437 yds/400m) and one hank did the shawl shown.

Here is the finished product:

Next we will start to have some real fun with the techniques discussed so far.








Sock Yarn Shawls – part 3 – triangles

When I made the first circular shawl, I varied the shape of it by using short rows to create the extensions over the shoulders to allow it to be tied.

Short rows were the key to altering the shape of the basic circle in interesting ways.  I made simple triangles, squares, hexagons and also rather abstract irregular shapes using short rows.  Also, the short rows allowed me to isolate or group colors that occurred in the repeating color changes of the various yarns I used.

This was a first effort using a Paton Kroy Sock yarn (75% washable wool, 25% Nylon) in the “Blue Striped Ragg” color.

I started with the basic circular pattern, using extra knit rounds between the pattern rows to break up the spiral, then, when at about 256 stitches, I divided the work into three roughly equal parts (85/85/86 stitches) on three separate needles, and worked short rows over each section.  I did this by knitting/purling back and forth, decreasing the number of stitches in each row  by making the turn one stitch short of the previous turn each time until one or two stitches remained in the short row, then knitted along the edge of the triangle just finished over to the next section, where I repeated the process.  This created a triangular shaped piece.  Also, the short rows resulted in isolated grouping of the colors as you can see in the photo.

At this point, the shawl could be finished off by simply knitting around the perimeter using whatever variation of the pattern you like.  Remembering to make increases when needed.  When to make the increases is a matter of judgement, as there is no longer the regular repeats of the circular pattern due to the irregular shape.  The best advice would be to make the increases, by doubling the number of stitches when ever you think it might be needed to keep the piece flat and relaxed.  It is always better, and easier to block, if there are too many stitches rather than too few.

In the shawl pictured, however, I decided to use short rows to continue to make small blocks of solid colors as I worked around the perimeter of the piece.  The technique is simply to knit along in whatever pattern you are working until you get a solid color, then work a bit in that color before switching direction and using short rows back and forth until the color changes again.  Working in this manner will give you the opportunity to play around and make patterns as abstract as you may like.

I also did some short runs of stitch increases and additional short rows over the points of the triangle to keep the shape very sharp and maintain the acute angles of the corners.

This is a fun exercise in adapting your knitting pattern to the color changes of the yarn you are using.  The possibilities are endless, and each piece unique.

Here is another triangular shawl early on.  You can see that I have continued the basic yarn-over-knit-2-together pattern into the three triangular short row shapes to maintain the spiral look of the piece.  The basic three points of the pattern are now established.  I added two stitches to the 256 stitches of the basic circle (258 sts) so the three points would have equal number of stitches (86).

The piece is also now on a single 60″ circular needle with markers placed at the points where the three sections join.

Here the same piece is, farther along.  I have added some additional short rows to keep the shape “point-y” as the diameter increases.

And another shot of the work in progress.  As you can see, it is outgrowing the single 60″ needle.  At this point I will add another one or likely two 60″ needles so I can periodically stretch the piece out to monitor the shape of it as it progresses.   Once I finish another piece in progress, which has three 60″ needles in it and the needles are available.

The yarn for this shawl is Patons Kroy Socks yarn, color Purple Haze.  At this point, I am into the second 50 gram ball, and will use a total of about 150 grams.

Here is the finished shawl, on the blocking mats:


Vesuvius Hull – Superstructure 1

Vesuvius – main cabin

I fabricated the cabin from card stock and thin plywood to keep the structure light, as I intend to ballast the hull low to keep it stable.

Here is the start of the cabin on the workbench.

I cut out for the windows and doors, saving the cut outs to make frames later.

The cabin sides are fastened to the plywood base and trial fitted into the deck recess.

The circular chart table is modeled, but I later decided not to detail the interior of the cabin, so it just serves as reinforcement.

The plywood top of the cabin is trial fitted  in place, and the windows and doors are framed with cardstock trim.


The cut outs of windows from the cabin are re-cut to make frames for the windows.  Painted and glued to plastic, they will be installed before final gluing of the top plywood piece for the cabin.

The upper deck is 1/64″ plywood, planked with cardstock planks, as the main decks.  Once it is detailed, it will be fastened to the upper plywood former of the cabin.

Windows in place, upper deck planked and installed, smoke stack and life boats roughed out and railings started.


Time to take a summer break and head to Santa Fe!  See you in September.

Sock Yarn Shawls – 2

The first project, described in the first post, turned out pretty well, but had a few areas for improvement.  First, using the two needle technique resulted in an gap made up of more open stitches due to reduced tension at the point the knitting moves from one needle to the other.  Largely the result of my somewhat sloppy technique and poor attention to tension, it can be cured by more precise knitting, or by simply knitting one or two stitches from the second needle onto the first when making the switch to the second needle.  I chose the latter method.

The modified pattern used for basic circular patterned shawls and for starting some of the shawls of different shapes and also for the small circular patterns incorporated in some of the other more abstract patterns is here:

Circular shawl pattern basic

This is a shawl made using the basic pattern and finished as described in the instructions.




This is the piece in on the blocking mats.  It was blocked using stainless steel blocking wires pinned to rubber blocking mats and pinned out to just about 48 ” diameter.  You can see the spiral pattern created by the repeated pattern – the yarn over/knit 2 together with a single knit row between created a definite right-handed spiral pattern, which is attractive and also makes the piece quite elastic with a lovely drape.  Also, you can see the results of the doubling of the number of stitches as the spiral “ribs” double in number with increase.  And the increasing number of rows between each increase is also apparent.

The yarn used for this scarf is from “Viking of Norway” and is the Nordlys superwash wool.  75% wool, 25% nylon, it is a single ply, soft spun yarn that knits up beautifully.  The color was #965.  The yarn comes in 100 gram balls, and I used one ball and about a quarter of a second ball, so it took about 125 grams (about 475 yards/435 m) for a 48″ diameter scarf.

Here is the finished shawl:







You may wish to vary or break up the prominent spiral pattern of the basic shawl pattern.  This can be done several ways.

One easy way is to vary the pattern by doing some knit stitches between the yarn-over-knit-2-together basic pattern.  Such as yarn-over; knit two together; knit 2 (or 3 or 4) then repeat.

Another way is to use the basic yarn-over-knit-2-together row but knit two or three rows of plain knit/stockinette between.  Or even insert a row of garter stitch, by purling around once.

And a third way I have broken up the spiral pattern is to slant the decrease stitch in the opposite direction by doing the opposite of knit-two-together:  slip one stitch as to knit; knit one stitch; pass slipped stitch over.  This works well, but is a bit slower, at least for me, so I don’t use it much.  It was used in the green shawl below as noted.

Here is a circular shawl made using a modified version of the basic pattern above.  Basically, I just varied the yarn-over knit-two-together pattern by knitting several rows of stockinette between.  Sometimes I  also did some garter stitch for interesting texture variations.

This shawl used three 50 balls of Paton “Kroy Socks” yarn, in the “blue striped rag” color.  The shawl is about  40″ in diameter, after blocking.  You can see the ruffled edge in this photo, due to the final increase in stitch count just before binding off.

Below are some detail shots of the shawl, showing how the color changes of the yarn look in the circular pattern, and showing how the pattern was varied to break up or eliminate the spiral.

Here is the finished shawl:














Here is yet another variant of the circular pattern, made also with a Paton Sock Yarn in the “clover colors” version.

In this shawl, I took advantage of the fact that the two row pattern repeat of the basic pattern causes the spiral look as the pattern is repeated, because the yarn-overs all slant in the same direction, and when separated only by one row of knitting, are superimposed and give a slant to the look.  For the last section of pattern repeats, I changed from a yarn-over, to a slip-one-Knit one-pass-slipped-stitch-over, as noted above,  which largely neutralized the slant of the pattern in earlier sections.  In the grey/red/blue scarf above, the interposition of several rows of knitting has a similar effect.

This is another shawl that blocks out about 40 – 45 inches in diameter.  Below is a detail of the pattern showing the spiral and the non-spiral sections.

In the next post, we will talk a bit about starting to vary the shape of the shawl, and also about how to vary the pattern in interesting ways, using short rows.



Shawls from sock yarn – 1

Recently I decided to try knitting a circular pattern shawl from some left over sock yarn in the stash.

The inspiration for the project was Elizabeth Zimmerman’s “pi” shawl, as described in her “Knitters’ Almanac”.  (Dover, 1981)

The book is available from Amazon:

In this project, she uses a crocheted start for the circular pattern.  It is described in the “Almanac”, but not I a way I could understand, so I found a better presentation of the “Emily Ocker” method on YouTube:

In Zimmerman’s project, she starts with 9 stitches, knits a round, then doubles the stitches, with a yarn-over-knit-one increase, (18 sts) then knits three rounds, doubles the stitches again (36 sts), then knits six rounds, doubles to 72 sts, knits 12 rounds, doubles to 144 sts, knits 24 rounds, doubles to 288, knits 48 rows, doubles to 576, and ends soon after, probably just tired of the project.

I modified the basic pattern in a couple of ways,  Although I used the basic plan for doubling stitches and the same number of rows between increases, I used circular needles, beginning with two 16″ needles and working up, through two 24″ needles until I was using one, then two, 48″, later one 60″ needles, switching back to the shorter needle when doing the tails/ties.  I also used a more lace like stitch in the knitted rows rather than straight knitted stockinette stitch.  The stitch I used was basically a yarn-over-knit-two-together pattern which I varied.  Sometimes I did the stitch all the way around, sometimes I did it once or twice and used a varying number of knitted stitches between to create more interesting patterns.  Also, once the piece was near the desired diameter, and I was running out of the yarn leftovers, I used short rows to make two extensions, as ties, so the piece might be a bit more useful.  I did not have enough yarn to make it large enough (60 – 72″) for a circular shawl, so this seemed a reasonable compromise.

For an edge, I made a final round of doubling increases, taking the stitch count to around 1200 sts, then bound off the next row.   This made a rather dense edge which ruffled a bit and permitted blocking with the wires we use by sliding the wires though the holes created by the increase row.  This created a very nice finished edge, a sort of combination of ruffle and picot edge when blocked out.

Here is a snap of the piece on the blocking mats:

The mats are 12″ square, so you can see the piece ended up about 24″ wide and 36″ long.

Detail of the patterns used:

The piece turned out so well, I decided to make more shawls based on variations of the circular pattern.  This decision resulted in trips to yarn stores and purchase of additional sock yarn, entirely neutralizing any benefit of reducing the amount of yarn in the stash.

Here’s a shot of the final result:

The variations used will be discussed in the next post.  Some were straightforward circular patterns making use of the variegated sock yarns to create interesting patterns.  Others were variations is shape, mostly created using short rows.  If you need to refresh on short rows, you might like to do it now, before looking ahead.