Category Archives: Knitting

Sock Yarn Shawls – Part 6 – free form, fireworks

After finishing the “starry night” shawl, I decided to explore the techniques used in it  a bit more, but incorporating more colorful yarn for the circles, inspired by aerial fireworks of Independence Day celebrations.

And in addition, it gave me a way to use up some left over yarn from other shawls.

Here is the first fireworks shawl:

The background/main color yarn used for this shawl was the Paton sock yarn “Singing the Blues” used for the starry night shawl.  The eight circles were worked up using colorful yarn left from other shawls, specifically the triangular and square shawls discussed earlier.  I selected the color to start each circle according to what I wanted to emphasize and discarded some yarn if the color was not what I wanted.

Here is the shawl laid out so you can see the pattern:








Once again, as I worked on the piece, I would lay it out on blocking mats to see how the shape was coming and decide where to “grow” it next:



Also in this piece, I first tried joining two circles by using the “three needle bind off” method.

Here is a snap of that method of connecting a new circle.  Basically, the two needles, one from each circle, are held together, pointing in the same direction, and a third needle used to knit together one stitch from each needle.  The first stitch is then held on the third needle, the next two stitches knit together, and the first stitch slipped over the second as if binding off.



The number of stitches to “bind off” when using this method to connect circles will vary depending on the size of the circles and whether or not you need to keep them strictly circular.  Sometimes I use short rows to add little triangular ears to a circle to be joined to the work so that I can use the bind off method for a longer area of connection

When using the bind off connection, you can use both the yarn from the main piece and the yarn from the added circle to do the bind off, or you can use one or the other as a single strand, and use the other yarn later when you knit around and incorporate it as you like.  Sometimes this decision is influenced by the colors of the respective yarns, if different.

This is a second fireworks shawl:


This shawl was worked similarly to the first fireworks piece, but in many of the circles, the yarn was switched/changed to make the individual circles more colorful and also to have the same colors appearing in several circles.

Again, I found it very helpful to periodically pin the piece out on blocking mats to evaluate shape and color balance and decide where to add additional circles.  In this photo, you can see there are already seven circles of very different size, and also that I have used the bind off join method more.







Exploring where to add which circle next.  I will start several circles and decide on placement based on which look best as well as where the shawl needs to grow next to have desired shape.

Here two circles have been added but added together.  The two were first joined and then expanded, as I wanted one to “overlap” the other.  Once large enough and with a somewhat flat side, the two were connected to the main work with a bind off.

This shows a circle being joined to the main work with short rows.  The short rows have been worked in the lower part of the picture, below the joining point, and I am about to work back around the smaller circle to work short rows in the space above the joining point.

Next projects include more works using multiple circles as well as more free form designs using mostly short rows.  Stay tuned.















Sock Yarn Shawls – Part 5 – free form – starry night

After I had done a couple of circular shawls, I was interested to see how the basic circles could be modified into other shapes, as discussed earlier, but I also thought to combine the circles together using short rows.

The inspiration for the first project was the pattern of concentric circles in gray and blue produced using the Paton sock yarn in the “Singing the Blues” color.  This yarn has shades of blue ranging from a dark navy, to an intense cobalt blue, to lighter blue and gray.  These reminded me of the colors used in some of van Gogh’s paintings, and I decided to try to make a shawl with many circular and spiral “stars” with a background of clouds and night time sky.

I began with a basic circle worked out to about 8 to 10 inches in diameter, then made a similar but smaller circle.  I hooked the two together by working short rows in the space between where the circles touched.  Basically, I knit around one circle’s edge, then simply knit around the second smaller circle edge back to where the next stitches of the first circle could be knit.  At this second join, I knit 3 or 4 stitches, turned (wrap and turn) and purled back about 6 to 8 stitches, turned, and knit back.  On this knit row, I decreased two stitches by knitting two together along the rim of each circle, then knit to one stitch past the first turn, turned and purled back.  I worked short rows for about 1 to 2 inches in this fashion, decreasing 2 stitches in each knit row about 4 to 6 times, then decreasing only one stitch in the knit rows, judging by eye when the curves of the two circles looked best.  Once out several inches, I purled back around the smaller circle to the joining point and repeated the process.  If the yarn in the initial knit stitches at the first join has stretched or pulled out to make an oversize loop, I frequently make up a stitch or two by knitting or purling down a row to tighten up the join.  There is not an exact way to make this sort of join and you should expect to improvise as needed to keep the circles somewhat circular and the short rows lying flat.  Also, as I work the short rows, I will begin to add some yarn-over-knit-two-together “holes” in the area of the joining to break up the otherwise solid patch of stockinette stitch and also the increase the flexibility and stretchiness of this area, which will greatly facilitate blocking.

Here are some photos of this first project:

This is the work in process.  I found it very helpful to periodically pin it out on the blocking mats to monitor how the shape was coming and decide where to add the next circle(s).

This is the completed shawl on the blocking mats.

The two circles more or less in the center were the first to be constructed and hooked together.  Then some short rows filled in around them before more circles were added to the growing edge of the piece.  There are six circles in this part.  Then the two larger circles were worked up and connected to the edge of the piece.  Once all the circles were attached and the spaces between filled with short rows, the perimeter was knit around for a couple of inches, letting the color changes of the yarn make the pattern.  Then, the final several inches was worked around using short rows to make larger patches of the colors of the yarn.  To do this, I just work along on a row and when the yarn color changes, I work a bit farther, then turn and work back to or just before or after the color change, then turn again.  By working back and forth in this fashion, you can make interesting blocks of color of varying shape.  As with most of the shawls, this piece was finished with a final doubling of the number of stitches (yarn over-knit one), a knit row, and binding off.






These are some detail snaps of the piece showing the short rows worked around and between the circles of various size.

And this is the finished shawl:








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:


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.



Knitting – modified lace stitch sweater

This pattern uses a lace stitch variation in the main panels with a “honeycomb” cable stitch in the pattern panels.

The cable stitch uses a 4 row repeat, and the lace pattern uses a 6 row repeat, so the pattern is worked in 12 row multiples.



This photo shows the main pattern and the cable pattern.  In this sweater, I continued the cable pattern up over the shoulder and edged it with a few stitches of garter stitch for contrast.  I also continued the cable pattern through the ribbing at the sleeve ends, the bottoms of the sweater, and the neck ribbing.


The pattern for this sweater is here:

Sweater 2

As with the other patterns, this was knit with Vanna’s Choice worsted weight acrylic yarn.  Vanna’s is still my favorite for working up prototype patterns and it makes great gifts for my wool-sensitive family.  And those who do not like hand-washing sweaters!

Knitting – Diagonal garter stitch sweater


This pattern evolved from my attempts to develop a sweater with diagonal rows.  The first iteration used a simple stockinette stitch in the diagonal panels, but the unusual direction of the rows was not very apparent in that stitch.  So I did another iteration with garter stitch in the panels, which nicely accentuates the diagonal direction of the rows.

The concept evolved from the simple method of adding a stitch on one end of a right side row by a simple yarn over to create the slant.  In order to keep the stitch count constant, the last two stitches on each right side row are knit together to decrease one stitch.  This process does create a slanted row, but it will cause the edge of the piece to also slant or scallop.  It is the basis of the many patterns used for afghans in the chevron strip version, or the feathers and fan pattern.

Since I did not want a scalloped or pointed edge on the sweater, this pattern starts with a standard knit-2 purl-2 ribbing, which is then bound off in the areas where the diagonal pattern will be used.  The diagonal is then created by  the yarn over stitch increase on one side of each right side row and a second stitch increase made by knitting through the bound off edge of the ribbing.  Once all the bound off stitches are replaced, the work is worked across on all stitches.  The yarn over increases on one side of each panel are then offset by the knit-2 together decreases at the other end of each panel.

This creates a nice shape, with gently sloping shoulders and a hollow for the neck.  I felt the neck hollow was a bit too deep and wide, so I used short rows to build up the center a bit in the front, and fully in the back.


This is an unusual pattern.  The diagonal rows are not terribly obvious, but if done carefully, they can make a bit of a puzzler to show off your skills.

The complete pattern is available here as a .pdf file

Sweater 3


Knitted cap

This is called the “Starfish” because the pattern has 5 sided symmetry.  It is basically a simple watch cap with a ribbed start and the pattern carrying through as far as possible, until there are too few stitches remaining.  The background stitch in the main part of the cap is a double seed stitch.

Pattern here:

Knit Hat Pattern



Knitting Projects


This blog features patterns for various recent knitting projects.

Each pattern is available as a .pdf for download.  The blog itself will have some notes and background information to supplement the pattern.

Most of the projects will be in worsted weight yarn.  I use Vanna’a Choice acrylic worsted weight yarn from Lion Brand for almost all of my pattern development projects, as well as for many around-the-house projects, such as afghans.

This yarn is very easy to work with and holds up well when you have to rip out or “unknit” a project part way through.  Also, it is easy to care for, washes well, and blocks easily, as it dries fast .  The yarn is readily available, and, at least in my experience, the dye lots do not vary significantly.  Many in my family are intolerant of wool and/or do not want to bother with the extra care of a traditional wool hat or sweater, both the hand washing and the moth-proofing.  So Vanna’s Choice is a perfect solution.

Link to Lion Brand Yarn site, Vanna’s Choice page: