Filling in the blanks

By | February 26, 2015

Let’s say you want to design a shawl composed of lace wedges. You have a lace pattern in mind, and you want each wedge to grow by two stitches on each right-side row. How do you get that lace pattern to fit into that wedge shape?

two stitch maps

square peg, triangular hole

In Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls, Martha Waterman suggests making the wedge bigger until you have enough stitches available to work another repeat of the pattern.

stitch map for Vine Lace wedge

with full repeats of the pattern fitted in when possible

But doing so leaves blank areas that I find… unsatisfying.

swatch for Vine Lace wedge, really ugly version

meh

Another option is adding in yo/dec pairs – rather than full pattern repeats – when enough stitches become available. You hear this advice frequently because, frankly, it’s relatively easy to do. But for some stitch patterns, that doesn’t make much of a difference.

Vine Lace wedge, slightly less ugly version

not much better

I like going a step further. I relish the challenge of filling in those blank areas as much as possible, while still maintaining the character of the stitch pattern.

Vine Lace wedge, pretty version

now that’s more like it

This was actually a big topic of discussion during the Wedge Shawl Design class that I taught at Stitches West last weekend. We worked through a few examples as a group, and everyone had a chance to play with the stitch pattern of their choice. Many lovely wedges were created. (Alas, I didn’t get photographic proof, as I never remember to bring a camera to class.)

Still, it bothers me that I can’t quite articulate exactly how to design lace wedges without blank areas. I haven’t figured out a foolproof method that works for all kinds of lace patterns, just tips and tricks that work for some patterns. But I’ll tell you what: I’ll keep fiddling around with lace wedges, and if I make any great discoveries, I’ll let you know. Okay?

8 Comments

Ruby Cruse on February 26, 2015 at 6:49 pm.

I cannot wait until your classes at DFW Fiber Fest next month. I am so excited.

Ruby

JC on February 26, 2015 at 8:44 pm.

Just three more weeks, Ruby!

Jill Krone on February 26, 2015 at 8:57 pm.

Is there a way to glean the information of this class if we are unable to travel to attend the class? Very curious and interested. Lucky Ruby!

JC on February 26, 2015 at 10:00 pm.

Not yet, Jill. But that’s okay, as I’m still working the kinks out of the class material. Each time I teach the class, it gets better!

Until the class is polished and available in some other form, you can refer to Knitting Lace Triangles by Evelyn Clark and Stahman’s Shawls & Scarves by Myrna Stahman. These two references do an excellent job of describing how to design and knit two-wedge triangle shawls and Faroese shawls from the top down.

Barbara on February 27, 2015 at 5:14 am.

Interesting!

For me, I prefer what you achieved in the 2nd iteration. I am often just as fascinated by the shapes created in the “negative space” between lace patterns. It just goes to show that it takes all kinds.

JC on February 27, 2015 at 7:19 am.

To each their own, Barbara!

Nicole Novak on February 27, 2015 at 8:03 am.

“Still, it bothers me that I can’t quite articulate exactly how to design lace wedges without blank areas. I haven’t figured out a foolproof method that works for all kinds of lace patterns, just tips and tricks that work for some patterns. But I’ll tell you what: I’ll keep fiddling around with lace wedges, and if I make any great discoveries, I’ll let you know. Okay?”

Now that I’m swatching and charting away here at home that is exactly my problem–what stitches to use to make the wedge grow? I am happily waiting for some more tips and tricks. Designing is an art form, of course. And I have very little talent, but I’m sure willing to try and make something pretty! That class was just great!! Thank you again.

JC on February 27, 2015 at 8:52 am.

Nicole, the general approach we covered in class – draw multiple repeats of a stitch pattern, superimpose the outline of a wedge, ensure that each RS row has two more increases than decreases – works well for many stitch patterns, especially those with diamond-shaped motifs. Give it a try!