Designing ‘Gwenna’, from The Knitter 117
For this masterclass, I decided I wanted to design a crescent shawl, as they’re very popular and can easily be worn as a scarf – which is probably the most common way knitters wear shawls.
‘Gwenna’ is a wide crescent shawl which is worked from the bottom up.
I had two stitch patterns that I had sketched out in my notebook because I wanted to use them in a design soon. I felt that they would look good together but I knitted a swatch to make sure.
The stitch pattern I chose for Chart A (find in The Knitter 117) would look best as an edging as the position of the double decreases (sk2po) creates a natural scallop.
Anniken chose a pattern for the edging which would form scallops.
There are different ways of creating a crescent shape. The two most common ways are top-down or bottom-up, although you can also create a crescent by knitting the shawl sideways and using short rows to shape it.
Top-down shawls tend to be easier to design, as generally you start with a small number of stitches and then increase on every other row to create the shape. How many stitches you increase per row and how they are arranged in relation to each other will determine the final shape.
I wrote a tutorial on my blog about how you can cast on the same number of stitches and increase at the same rate and create three different shapes. You can read it here.
Generally top-down crescent shawls will start with a small number of stitches, for example 9 stitches, then increase 6 stitches on every other row – 3 at the beginning of the row and 3 at the end. So a right-side row will read: K2, (yo, K1) twice, yo, K to last 4 sts, (yo, K1) twice, yo, K2. 6 sts inc’d.
When you create a crescent shawl in this way, you end up with a lot of stitches very quickly, and the shawl ends up being very long along the top edge, which is perfect to wear wrapped around your neck as a scarf. My ‘Elowen’ design from The Knitter issue 113 was shaped like this.
‘Elowen’ from issue 113 of The Knitter is a top-down crescent shawl.
With top-down shawls, you can usually worry less about having enough yarn to complete your project. As you’re increasing to achieve the shape, you can usually just keep knitting till you get close to running out of yarn. In reality it’s not quite that simple. If you’re using more than one stitch pattern you need to determine how much of the final shawl will use each stitch pattern.
I look at previous shawls I’ve designed using the same (or similar) shape and yarn amount, to get an idea of how big a shawl is likely to be. I then weigh the yarn regularly so I know how much yarn each repeat will take and if I’m increasing, then how much more yarn each repeat will require compared to the previous repeat. I then use that to decide when to start the edging and when to cast off.
Bottom-up crescent shawls generally requite casting on lots of stitches. You need to be more careful if you have a limited amount of yarn available, as it’s harder to work out how much yarn you will need. I’m sure there are mathematical formulas that will do this for you, but I’m not a ‘maths whizz’ so I prefer to keep things as simple as possible!
After considering the lace patterns I wanted to use for ‘Gwenna’, how to achieve the shape and how that would work in conjunction with the lace stitch, I decided to go for a bottom-up crescent using short rows to shape it.