There was this shawl on Ravelry, really nice, but if you notice, it’s got four panels. I count myself with the Chinese and the Atevi in really not liking the number four. Three or five, but not four. So I reworked the pattern and came up with a five-panel shawl in stockinette.
Allow me to digress: When you work a knit stitch, you pull the stitch loops toward you. When you work a purl stitch, you pull the stitch loop away from you. Using various combinations of those stitches is how you get pattern and texture in your knitted fabric.
Stockinette is a stitch where all the loops of all the rows are pulled toward the “right” side of the work, the side that will be facing outward. (Most machine knitted garments are knitted in stockinette because it’s smooth and pretty) In order to get all the loops to go in the same direction on a flat piece of knitting, you have to purl the “wrong” side rows, which is every other row. Stockinette is a piece of cake to work in the round because you’re knitting in a spiral, and the right side of the work is always facing toward you, so you never purl. But when you’re working a big flat shawl that will eventually have 480 stitches in a row, that’s a heck of a lot of purling!
It doesn’t matter which nationality your knitting is — English, American, Continental, Norwegian, Russian, Peruvian, whatever. Purling is harder than knitting, both mechanically and in terms of time spent and muscle energy expended. I had knitted about four skeins into the piece and I stalled out. I tried combination knitting, but that didn’t help. The piece sat in time out for almost a year. Then, the other day, I said, that’s it. I frogged that sucker, sat down at the ‘puter and reworked the pattern for garter stitch.
Garter stitch is knit every row, so the loops on each row go in the opposite direction to the loops on the previous row. It makes a thicker, warmer fabric, which is ideal for something like a winter shawl. Garter stitch is also a knubbly pattern with a lot of texture.
In the original pattern, the body was worked in Stockinette and the top border was worked in Garter stitch because, in addition to being a PITA because of all the purling, Stockinette curls. It’s just the nature of the beast. When I revised the pattern so that the body was worked in Garter, I also revised the 3-stitch border worked in Garter to 5 stitches worked in k1, p1 ribbing. This gives the piece an interesting textural dimension because k1, p1 ribbing is horizontally elastic and draws back up when you release the tension on it. That’s why this ribbing is popular for cuffs, necks and the brow bands of hats. But here, only one edge is attached to anything, so the ribbing doesn’t get stretched. It also doesn’t curl, either horizontally or vertically and makes the border thicker than the body, which also lends an interesting texture.
The rays are a single stitch of stockinette. Every fourth row, you increase 10 stitches by working a yarn over at the beginning and end of each section. This is what it looks like wrong side up. I started it on the 60-inch circular needle I’ll eventually need to finish it, which is kinda overkill at this point, but that’s OK.
Once you get going on it, it kinda looks like a PacMan, but I think that will give it a more cape-like drape. It moves along right smartly and the repeats are very easy to memorize. I wrote the pattern for both the Stockinette and the Garter stitch version. I haven’t posted it on my knitting blog, but if anybody is interested in it, shoot me an email, and I’ll send you the pattern in PDF format. This goes for any of my patterns that have been featured in this blog.